first three on what to do if your swale slpes down hill to stop all the wwater just running down the swale instead of beign held up in it for as long as possible so it can seep into the ground.
THe first diagram is somthign i have read about the next two are ideas of my own and so they may be crazy and i accept being challenged on them of curse that is not somethign i have much choice about nor should have. Agri rose macaskie.
Another problem with water harvestin is, when are you by creating hollows that hold water stealing water from the people in the lands downstream of you and when are you usefully stoping water getting washed to the sea in a silly and useless flood that may kill people and cause damage to their houses? Maybe you should not water harvest in summer but should in the rainy season.
Laws need to b emade about all this and the questions involved a a bit intricate but water is too important for us to side step the problems of htis question. We should sit down and sort it out.
The less water we have sitting on the ground in puddles, ponds, etc., the less liklyhood there is of refilling the water table and we have, over the years, done lots of things to reduce the area of land where water stands, taking meanders out of rivers, which means shortening them and so leaving less water in contact with the ground, holding in their banks drying swamps and flood plains and drying rivers up, filling in dips and flattening all the land with tractors.
The next diagram is of the first principles of water harvesting. agri rose macaskie.
and as yo rightly pointed out the classic copy book swale does have to be all but exactly horizontal along its whole length, if it isn't it then really isn't a swale. that is why we suggest rip swales are better no need for exact and less impact on the landscape, less work involved and clay soil works better that the copy book swale, which becomes a dam and holds water that eventually evaporates as once clay is wet water does not soak into it.
in clay cases some have gone to the extra extent of ripping the bottom of the swale (more work when the rip would have been sufficient) then they lay gypsum and mulch over the swale to help it work (even more work) oh over here our clays generally can be helped with gypsum.
just some extra thinking to throw into the melting pot.
Darrel Doherty's swales only have a very slight slope so they only carry the water if they are pretty full. It seems the word swale is a name for ditches and maybe as all this part of permaculture comes from engineering it is a word used for ditches by engineers rather than by the general public. THe same goes for berms that i had never heard of though i had heard of banks.
Other words that come from engineering, I imagine, are the words ridges and valleys to describe the up and down ridges and outcrops in a line of hills, As a normal person i always see a valey as being on the horizontal plane not as being the inward part of a fold on a hill.
It is counter intuitive to think that you need to hold the water up for it to sink into the ground but according to all the people with experience of making dips to hold rain water it makes a great difference, in india five years after reinstating percolation pounds rivers that had run dry ran agai.n look at bill mollisons dryland strategies pt. 3 with the denting the desert in arizona machine of THe agricultural scientist Bob dicksen, sohe makes dents in th esand and the water that stands in the wets the gorund so much better than it doe sin other places that grass grows where the desert is dented gr4ass only needs a short wet season to grow.
It is not just a question of stopping the water runing off it is also a question of getting it to run in to some depth which reduces the evaporation of the valuable water that had s fallen, if it only wets the surface it is more likely to evaporate off the ground.
This is in the style of the swales that geof Lawton makes as i understand it, swales on the level an dponds were most water usually runs in the places in which the waater is likely to collect. He als leads the water that falls on roofs an druns off them and roads to the swales but they do that in the key line technic too. agri rose macaskie.
I suppose that the saddle point and the keyline are key ideas in yeomans work, maybe they are borrowed from enginerering knowledge. THe idea is hta tthe water will run off a mountain as i truns of a roof but unlike a roof it is likely to end up in some points on hte mountain side more than in others. and if you can build ponds in these points then you will have a store of water and whats more as the store is high in the mountains a store you can use with out pumping water anywhere. As the store is high up, the water will move to where yu want it to go through gravity.
Darrel Doherty explains that it is better to use the water up in the mountains were you can grow lots of things than to carry it off to dry valleys were it is not likely to do much good. He say irrigating deserts has always been a failure and it is true, irrigation is drying up lake Chad the third biggest lake in the world and has dried up the Aral sea and by irrigating the desert you end up with two dry areas the one you were irrigating and the coastal areas to the sea or lake you dry up.
Water moves to water where there is water, sea or lakes or a nice damp wood, it will rain more.
Of course geoffs Lawtons methods for making the greatest possible use of the awater by reducing surface evaporation with mulches and vegetation and using swales to get the water to seep deep into the soil instead of just wetting the surface and then evaporating, work and only use a bit of drip irrigation so you can green the desert but by using variouse strategies not just by irrigating it. agri rose macaskie.
The videos to see, to check all this up in are geoff Lawtons harvesting water DV The Swale Plume, first.
Then Darren doherty keyline design at the beach 1 and 2,
and then sepp holzers work in ecuador against natural disasters that explains why absorbing more water in the land will stop flash floods, disaster in the lowlands, but it is made by the people he was visiting in Ecuador so it is in spanish so you may need a spanish friend to whatch it with you. Also bill mollisons dryland premaculture strategies 3 that talks about denting the desert and how much getting the water to sink into the earth helpps to grow grass in the desert and his dryland permaculture strategies 1 which talks of berms has something to do with all this.
This last, for now, diagram, is about key line, how the ponds in the hills in keyline design are placed and connected. Design seems to be the word used in permaculture for the permaculture changes you are going to make in the landscape, your project. The ponds are connected one to the other and maybe these idaea of yeoman's tha I have learnt through Darren Doherty, have to do with Sepp Holzers ponds.
The highest ponds are in the highet peaks and a swale connects them to the lower ponds which if you are lucky willl go down in sucession the highestpeak being next to the next highest peaks and so on so tha tnext door ponds will be each a bit higher or lower than their imediate neighbors. All the ponds and the swales may be used to help irrigate the landscape or to flood it iif their is a fire.
The water is taken out of the bottom of the lower line of ponds to feed an irrigetion canal that runs below the lowest line of ponds, by sticking a pipe in the slope, so that it goes through the bank in to the bottom of the pond.
Maybe carefull emptying of the ponds, if there was a lot of rainfall, could also stop the earth on a slope from getting too waterlogged and so stop landslides or some of them. As all the ponds are connected or have run out pipes, it would be possible to empty them and to carry the water to the bottom of the slopes. agri rose macaskie.
Great illustrations. Some new information to me, quite useful. Thanks!
Could you elaborate or point me towards information regarding swales dug in clay soils? I have just dug two little swales on our budding (well, frozen right now) forest garden site and they are rather "textbook." We are attempting to channel the water towards one small pool. This pool will sit slightly higher than the second, which will be a little larger. Is this similar to a keyline system?
I have dug something similar to Rose's depiction of Darrel Doherty's swales. What is "ripping" a swale and how is it accomplished? Is it similar to scarifying a planting hole?
I'll post sometime this coming weekend about our project, but I can upload a simple drawing depicting our water flow earlier if need be.
so the rip line along the contour allows for water to enter directly into the sub soil more easily we have used them in clay soils and sandy loams worked a treat don't need a lot of construction pre-planning don't need to follw the contoru exactly and can be as permanent or temporary as is needed, and of course hardly any impact on the appearance of the landscape, copy book swales are painfully obvious and once built i have seen the exponents then have to build a bridge to drive over it. and also heard of others who have then ripped teh bottom of the swale applied gypsum and mulched it. one bloke ended up with that much water sitting in them all the time they encouraged mosquito's and he had to introduce fish for control.
also when a rip is used it can be the line in which the trees are planted and then mulch row along that row and you make a swale using mulch like you can use bales of hay/straw whatever to make a swale. have used the row mulching along the contours as well worked very well and looks part of the planting landscape. more than one of um er skinning a cat so they say, all projects need out of the square latteral thinking.
but it doesn't stop me from coming back.
Our miniswales took about 20 hours to charge the soil here with clay. I imagine that most of the water actually made it into the ground because we do not have much evaporation going on right now. Semi-shade, cold temperatures, and not as much solar energy to cause evaporation. That being said, I should consider ways to increase rate of drainage.
I do like the idea of "ripping" vs digging though. A cleaner look for our suburban lot, I'll have to monitor our swales to see if they continue to work correctly. If not, I'll try refilling them and just consider them double dug beds. Then I'll try "ripping."
Thanks for the feed back!
did i attack someone
no i made genral comments and yes i chat in very many USA forums and yes you can't help but get the feeling that we down under are different i have had personnal attacks many times over the past decade or more of chatting i don't let it bother me, but i also don't attack anothers personality.
i'm not locked in a square or a comfort zone, my thinking is always lateral, i never get comfortable, but i will always put my point across as i did here and there there was no attack from me.
i rarely ever refer to the upper echalon of pemaculture ie.,. molleson and co', i am well aware of the things they promote, i looked at those things some of which i found usefull, and others i adapted ad they worked so much so other rural folk (farmer types) followed my example, with the same success. i saw on tv when molleson introduced permaculture to australia some 30 years ago, i also saw on tv some years later a propunant of p/c on a midday stage more for ego and getting laughs that are prompted than rely promoting the values of grass roots level permaculture. we have a saying in australia once a galah always a galah.
the real value of permaculture is not being seen to be doing it, but starting within zone '0' the only real zone that is needed, if it is not accepted at grass roots level in the homes then it will never effect change.
let me know if i have attacked anyone please?
I meant it, attack is good, i have been learning it these fifteen years, verbal karate. People don't get to understand each other unless they are specific about their disagreements and answer back. I have even got good at answering personal attacks, almost good at it. When you dont up and out with whatever answer you have, when you keep a lot of things for yourself, then you find out that people dont 't know you you hav enot explained yourself very often, and when they start just guessing what you are like, it is horrible.
The people who love me, so they say, tend to give unflattering descriptions of my head and heart, then they tell you to be yourself and then you have a lot of research to do to find out what they think you are because they are telling you to be as they believe you are when they ask you to be yourself and the result of the research was, in my case, suprising and humiliating. Verball karate allows you to be true to yourself. it frees you from the necessity to pretend you have ideas that aren't yours for fear of hurting someone and allows you to fight things through if people are trying to stop your mouth and i find adults given to that, sometimes they let you talk but just on frivolouse matters, which is a more subtle way of stopping your mouth.
The thing is, as with phisical fighting, that you need to lay out the rules or I find i am answering back people who don't answer back which is to take an unfair advantage of them. I was taught, as a woman, to be very careful not to disagree with others often, so I know that you have to tell people that the game is i will answer back, I expect you to do the same and you even have to insist that they must learn to do the same, if you don't they will not know how to fight and if one day they wish to defend themselves or their child may be or someone else and they have not practised, you will find anyone can shut them up easily. Some people learn how to fight as toddlers i htink it depends on the attitudes of their parents. agri rose macaskie.
i in no way attacked or even said that what you did was not workable or no good or whatever, i amde no targeted critisism, i did point out that as far is is understood down here where it all started a channel/gulley directed water from one spot to another a swale was to contain runoff and help it into the sub soil. i work in objective ways not subjective ways.
i probably intimated like i do that the copy book swale needs a certain exactness, planning and expeniture of man hours and machinery hours, so then i offer other suggestions that are less demanding on manhours and machine hours, in my mind then that is the simple way permaculturists should think because all effort we do is counted against productivity, the less input for a given amount of produce or advantage more for less. that is why i use the oft used words of elloquent management motivational speakers and that is K.I.S.S - keep it simple stupid/silly.
do you have a photo or illustration of bales in a line acting as a stop to water going down the hill, as a sort of swale, i fnot may i draw a drawing of that idea.
I can understand about laughing at an idea i have often been lughed at myself which makes me less iclined to be respectfull of other peoples ideas i used to be super respectfull of iedeas i didnot agree with. If you believe in free speech you have to take it as weel as beign allowed to talk.
I talk about Bill Mollison and crew because i was taught at school to site the references or the authors of what i am saying nt tha ti don't admire them i do , I admire all bill mollisons research tha t brings up so many interesting experiments that like the Roosevelt one for building berms across inlets too stop erosion, which work like your straw bales as i understand the two ideas, they block off the flow of water holding it up so it sinks in. He visited them in dryland strategies video and in their shade a lot of plants and trees had grown. They were very big banks, way higher than the head of Bill Mollison, i was impressed about him knowing which plantd would serve as a hedge in the kalihari desert plants that that would grow in that climate with out needing water and make a thick enoug hedge to serve the purpose of the villagers to have a fence that would protect them and their live stock in great degree from lions and such i imagine and how he knew about the saguaro catus of america. I admire Geof Lawtons efforts in the desert, that have worked and the old idea mentioned in billmollisons dryland strategy videos about the tucson desert is tha tit takes thousands of years to grow a few centimetres of soil in a desert. .He has a greening the desert revisited video that showed they had paid off and created a good depth of soil.
Also, some years after school, i met people who did not do give the author of the ideas they were talking about and i have not been able to check out what they said, i did not then have a computer but if you know the name of the person whose idea it was, you can say to friends, "have you heard of mollison and what do people say of him for example" and orient yourself on the subject that way or look for a book on him.
With out even knowing the name of the author of an idea or in what century what ever it was created as an idea it i shard to judge it except by trail and error. If you have enough information on anything it is easier to judge the benefits of the idea.
If something was said fifty years ago or more, then you can find out what the results of the idea were. It would be hard nowdays to get us to accept lobotomies for example. We know what the good and bad results of chemical fertilisers are because their effects have played out on peples land. We know that over used they can salty land especially were their is not much rain to wash the salt through the soil and we know that they cause lower quality soils because fertilising with chemicals means that organic matter that helps soils retain rain water is not part of the fertiliser, while if you fertilise with manure yu are also ptting organic matter on th eland. Without organic matter you can still grow things but it means you end up doing more irrigation than would be necessary if you put organic matter on your land, so we now that indirectly they increase the need for irrigation. being able to look up peoples experiences with a system is a short cut to seeing the up and downsides of an idea as it plays out in time.
If you don't give your sources you stop people lookin gup things for themselves. Which in some cases isthe result of a lordly attitude to other peples ability to do things for themselves and md also to their ability to make a right decision if they do.
I have found it embarrasing to talk about things and find people laughing at me because, without knowing it, i was mentioning Platos ideas say and I said they were my teachers ideas.
I did dig some swales myself last year, i did find some big stones that were damp at the bottom of the hill that i had not noticed as damp except after a rain storm before, so maybe those few swales had already caused a bit of a spring or damper ground lower down. My slope is very steep, I cannot make legdges of any width in it. agri rose macaskie.
It is important to teach women to defend their ideas because often they are taught not to say anything that would allow them to win an arguement and make a man look small so they end up sitting on a lot of their thoughts and only talking of the more frivolouse ones and then they get laughed at for being frivolouse. It is a womans lib stance to make a lot of defendig the need to defend your ideas verbally with determination, at least it is for me. Though there are women who dont need to be taught this. I know the example of a few domineerign women is used to say they are not lighter weight than men are when defending their position but i though at the same time they say you need men for some taskes precisely because they consider women get beaten down more easily htan men do. THe few examples of domineering women few examples belie the majority of cases.
It is normal to see girls atr school who are interested in seriouse ideas an din later life they have some how taken a back seat in all the more boring topics except things like tidyness. Even professional women let men talk on seriouse subjects more often than their male competitors let the women speak on them. It is only at home that men keep themselves to themselves which is boring of them.
I am not an example of meekness in women any more, i have spent fifteen years doing verbal karate, i speak loud and clear, befor I used to speak plenty but not compete on seriouse subject even when i thought i knew i was right, of course thinking it and being it are two different things, still you have to risk it. rose macskie.
I know that the clay in my garden stopped being so terribly clayey quite quickly in some spots, just through letting the weeds and plants save the land, so that now swales would work on the land. In other places the soil has remained of the sticky clay type till now. as swales should be planted with vegetation the clay in them might change to better soil quite quickly.
I know that in the feilds round my grandmothers which were clay were they dropped off bombs in hte war that were meant for liverpool the places the bombs fell turned into ponds. clay is easy to turn into a ponds. agri rose macaskie.
a bale would weigh about 20 kilograms they ae app' 1 meter long, .6 of a meter wide and .5 a meter thick, tied with to bailing twines.
the nearest i can demonstrate bales in a row is if you look at my straw bale garden feature there you will see bales in a row, so to act as swales they need to be placed along the contour, now i always say it can be hay, spoilt hay, straw, sugar dane mulch anything that comes in a bale, we usually buy sugar cane mulch bales, or spoilt lucern hay or pasture grass hay, if it is in a bale it will work, just source whatever is cheap as. suppose even bales of shredded paper would work? small logs and large branches laid along the contour will do the same over time as they collect debris. lay a row of mulch do teh same job and teh best bit with these swales is they add to amending the soil. 2 jobs in one hit good for productivity only some manual labour and no machinery on site.
if ou are going to do rows of mulch then buy those big rolls of mulch hay or hay, must be some areas over there can source spoilt ones?? we get them here easy enough and we don't live in rural. think latteraly find a source and if it is a long way off then get a few gardeners or permaculturists together and look for a trucky who needs a back load. or ask the farmer to ship truck load and all share the cost.
if you want to draw a bale or bales in a row do so no copyright here.
I want to argue with you for talking about people being arrogant when they think they know more than others though .
The dangerouse tpype f arrogance is to think that other groups could not learn it means that you do not make the same provision for their education as you do for which ever group it is you see as as cleverer. HOwever to think hta tpeople can all understand the same things with no preperation is also to be unfair because when people have had less preparation they are likely to fail at some learning skill for instance without the vocabulary of a scietist scientific ideas can be hard to understand.
Also it is not true that people who study are of no worth, a woman call Sarah F. Wright discovered glomalin about four years ago, that is a substance that coats the mycelium, roots, of fungus and when the mycelium dies falls into the soil and sticks it into clumps making its more workable, this means we know it is better to be always growing crops as the fungi that produces glomalin grows on their roots, in order to produce glomalin on our land so as to have more workable soils
Also this scientist discovered that glomalin contains large quantities of carbon and as glomalin takes up to forty years odd years to break down, that is to hold onto carbon for a long time, humic acids hold on to carbon for up to a thousand years but they dont contain so much carbon as glomalin does so glomalin means our land is sequestering more carbon. All this lets us know that we have even less reason for leaving feilds fallow a thing that happens a lot in a lot of countries in the world, than we did before.
If Sarah wright had not had training as a scientist she could not have found that out, she needed to have experience isolating substances which is to dissolve other substances off them without hurting the substance you want to isolate or to know what liquids might seperate different substances out and to be good at using a microscope and it is probably also necessary to know how to enduring hours of boring work.
It would be nice to say that everyone can be a scientist and a farmer and anything they want but these things take a lot of time and you can't multi task like that, it is going to take me years to find out how to grow vegetables as i combine that task with trying to research infrmation about organic and premaculture growing. As it took me a few years to plant trees and keep them alive. I was not brought up knowing how to be a vegetable gardener though yes a flower gardener to some extent and i wont be able to catch up with sepp holzer in his feild, nor do i have an idea as bill molison does what plants will serve what functions in odd parts of the world. We dont all stand alone we stand on our fore fathers shouldiers and on those of each other and that why its worth writing and talking so as to share the information. agri rose macaskie.
what gives here why those emoticoms, i never use emoticoms i put a short line of question marks in response to why anyones account should be suspended.
is there a moderator or manager around? to explain the emoticoms and convert them back to the question marks they should be.
Len - when you post, click 'additional options', then select 'don't use smileys'. I guess a row of question marks is the 'code' for one of the smileys. Prbabably it's something like three question marks per smiley, so you ended up with a row of them. It's possible, but I'm not certain, that if you select 'don't use smileys' then that setting will be remembered. I've converted them back for you, as requested.
Don't know anything about the suspended account so can't help with that.
Not sure if this is going to work, but I've just dug out a mini-video my son made as part of his PDC to illustrate how contour lines work, which might help anyone who's having trouble getting their head around why swales have to be 'on contour'. I've posted this up on other forums and, like Rose, I've been slammed for making them too basic. But someone might find it useful. On the original you could grab the slider and 'play' with it so you could get a feel of how they worked, but that function seems to have been lost in the translation to photo-bucket. He might still have the original version if anyone wants it for anything.
I used a simple altitude map to get us going with positioning swales and we built the house just on the side of the hill inside the top circle.
If you can find a map like this for your area it helps to plan what you intend to do.
Here you can just see some the contours we made and a pond to trap the water at the top of the hill.
Here you can see the marking out of the contours after using an a frame in the field with the cross in it on the top map.
on that last picture that also would be an ideal situation for rip swales, or any other sort rows of hay bales, rows of mulch or other material like old tree trunks and branches.
we used what is reffered to as a "bunyip" to get a picture of our contours ( i have a straigh level eye vision), a bunyip is basically a water level device using clear hose for the vision ends, we made it 10 meters in lenght but you can use whatever suits. tied teh end to tomato stakes and made level water level marks, too easy. jsut to be sure we got teh first rip line about right we used hands full of flour along the line as markers.
now as the swale like that is designed to put water into the sub soil so though the soil strata's it can manifest in damper soil some where lower down the slope, and we only did this on a 70 acre property so it was only our land that was affected or benefitted, i see other houses below the where the swales are is their no chance or some chance tha that extra moisture might manifest itself on another persons propety with whatever implications there may be??
A contour line is a line that joins all the points on a peice of ground that are the same level above sea level, like all the pionts 970 meters above lea level for example and another could be twenty meters above the first at 990 meters above sea level, my garden is a thousand meters above sea level.
If you make a path on a contour it would be a paht that did not slope up or down.
Those who have the swales on contour do so because they want the water to stay in the swale a maximum amount of time and if the swale tipped the water would slurp out like it does if you tip a cup or it would run down to the bottom point in the tip which is alright if thats were you want it to go but not so alright if you would like a thread of water round your slope that just sat their tilll it got absorbed so the whole length and width of the slope was getting the water instead of just the end point of your ditch.
geoff lawton has special overflow points in the swales, where, when the swale is full the water will flow out of a lip that is a bit lower than the rest of the wall of the swale and were he has arranged that one way or another the overflow will get carried to a swale below the first one, a swale at a lower level, that in its turn will fill, if it is not full already and whose water contribute to increasing the depth of the wetness of the ground in the slope just below it. If the second swale fills fills you direct its overflow into yet another even lower swale and so on. I think sepp holzer uses pipes to carry water from ponds at one level on his land to ponds at a lower level, to carry off the overflow.
I imagine that if the reainfall was very heavy and persistent and you were afraid of landslides you could drain the swales by deepening the overflow point and so reduce the water your slopes were absorbing. Maybe it wuold be as well to have an sunken area at the bottom of the slope to take the water if,a day might come when you needed to drain off water instead of collecrting it for some reason.
I do have what looks to me very like some evidence that water sinking into the ground changes the need to water your plants in summer. I planted a cherry at the bottom of the path that slopes down my bank and the cherry survived the first year without hardly any watering and the dry season here is about four mounths long and normally new trees don't survive not being watered during the first an dsecond dry season after I have planted them.
i thought the cherry survived because i bought it in a different nursery than usual and bare rooted, not in a pot, but after learning about water harveseting i have thought that it was more likely to be because it was planted in the piece of ground that recieved all the water that would have flowed down the sloping path i have, in a heavy rain event. THe path crosses the slope left to right as the ground is too steep for a path that goes straight down it. agri rose macaskie.
I want to take the opportunity to say one of the advantages for a country state county or parish to this sort of water harvesting is that it does refill the water table and a few years later wells that had run dry start to fill again, so it is an advantage to some neighbors.
finch, you where talking about clay and i have thought of more to say about it. One of the spots in my garden where the clay has turned into black soil is what is meant to be my flower bed, that has filled full of decorative bushes and we do water that in the summer, so i think that water might be usefull for making the transformation of clay into good soil take place quicker, alway supposing there are plants on the watered area, i imagine it is the conjunction of hte two elements that is usefull. geoff Lawton mentions bamboo at the edge of swales becasue it has shallow roots.
We have an automatic, micro drip, watering system, that we put on in the summer. The drip system is my husbands work and very usefull except when he sabotages a plant he does not like. Sometimes he does not like new plants though later he gets to like them and then i have to spy on things to make sure the drip has not got turned off or i have to think of some other arrangement for that plant.
I have to be a pig and tell on him because he is so much better at playing the doing for me through others game than me or just becasue he does it, so it is look after your own skin by doing the same or by trying to be a countereweight in this feild or be totally done for. I was brought up not to tell on others, that gives others such an advantage, telling is so important if you are in with tough types, think of it, in the mafia you dont tell and that keeps everything going that should not be going on., I dont like tellling it makes me look so bad. agri rose macaskie.
I will be planting my little swales this spring! I'm thinking of using the first of the swales to collect any nutrients running off from higher up. Our fence line should also be planted similarly, I think. I'll be using a dynamic accumulator and nitrogen fixing polyculture as a sort of "first line defense" against nutrient leeching. We live at the bottom of a gently sloping 800m hill, so I figure something has to be coming down it. To be more exact, we have water coming from two different directions onto our property. Would I be correct in assuming that we will receive some nutrients? I'm really new to horticulture in general, but I want to learn as much as I can. So please correct me if I am wrong!
I've included a Google Earth picture of our site. Mind that all the trees labeled were planted years ago and we have just now decided to begin a forest garden. The berry bushes are also going to be moved in the spring. The white lines are my two mini swales, the yellow are rough contour, and blue arrows signify where the water is running. I've exaggerated the elevation change dramatically to make it easier to see.
In India they make a lot of use of the water falling on their roofs they have underground tanks like cellars to store the water, lime washed that makes them sterile that was their way of having water for the houe traditionally.
The extra from their tanks goes into a recharge well, a well to recharge underground water, a well you fill with water rather than emptying it, of course if water filters through the top soil it gets filtered while if you put it straight into a well it won't but you can be sure the water gets into the ground water system instead of running off into the sea, so giving people well water in the dry season instead. They do put ifilters in the well in some of htem at any rate.. omn padesmani om.
I have been reading up about swales in the only farming book i have, swales come into terrace making and the expert agricultural engineers say a ditch for draining the feild is narrow while a swale will have a wider bottom a wider area for the water to be in contact with the land and soak in to it. agri rose macaskie.
My only concern is that water from the road and from our roof will have a lot of petroleum byproducts. The roof shouldn't be so bad and we are thinking of putting active carbon filters on them once we get some rain barrels. Is that necessary? But the road... well, I'm not so sure how to filter runoff from it.
I'll take some photographs tomorrow when I'm out messing with my compost. I've been away in college for 4 years, so my interest in what was growing on our property is only very recent. But it appears that we have a decent site for a forest garden, even though our canopy is already full with ornamentals.