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Pls look at my field and give advice!

 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Hi, this afternoon I'm planning to go back to the computer after lunch, read all your feedback and head to my plot where I'm conducting all kinds of permaculture experiments.

The field is a little slopy and right below a flat, barren terrace, which is probably a cabin spot.
My idea was to put a swale right below the terrace to collect water and redistribute it below.
I am planning to build 6 or 8 mounds of dirt and mulch and plant cucurbits in each mound (cucumbers, watermelon, squash) and ginger. In the berm created by the swale I was going to put tiquisque (taro root) which seems to like water.
The ground cover will be pintoi peanuts all around, that I plan to returf like a football field, cutting out squares from here and laying them on the field, as I'm tight on time.
Because of all this stuff being planted I'll probably plant rice in rows instead of following Fukuoka 100% otherwise I won't be able to step anywhere until harvest. I'll probably also alternate rows of rice with rows of peanuts and mung beans (green soy?).
All this stuff can take massive amounts of water. The rainy season has been good with us so far, but I know it's only gonna rain more and more until November, and then sunshine for 5 months. So, by end of Oct I thought I would plant some accumulators like camomile, mustard, but also sunflowers, flax and coriander for seeds.
What else, oh for right now I had sweet potatoes in mind, too.
I believe I was advised against making a swale right under a steep slope, so please tell me. I wanted to make one half-way down the field, too.

And now the pictures....
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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So, this is the slope that connects the terrace (above, right) with the actual field.
In the second pic you can see my experimental rice. Needs a bit of N, because it's mulched in compost instead of maní (the equivalent of Fukuoka's clover), but hey, no weeds!
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Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Bummer, 2 pics at the time

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Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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In the first pic you see the natural ground cover I found there. Sure looks like a legume, but too tall to have it as cover crop, so I chopped and dropped it, to mulch the maní, which is what I mean to have as cover crop.
The second image is the field with the top terrace on the left.
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Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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The next 3 are the field shot from the above terrace.
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Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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And the last is a bonus pic of me in secular/working clothing, hugging our biggest ayote, which comes from the vine I planted, in a bed that contained biochar.
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Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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So, I'll come back in two hours, hoping to find your feedback, and not just the usual spam in Russian.
 
Kirk Hutchison
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Your ideas all sound good to me. That property actually looks big enough for several swales. If you put a swale at the bottom of a steep slope it is possible that it will overflow. I believe it would be OK so long as the swale was big enough. If you have a dry season, you might also want to build some ponds to catch water.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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So here's my first swale. Before I make it longer, does it look like a swale? Depth, berm, etc. I know it's level, that's all I know.
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maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
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SergioSantoro wrote:
So, this is the slope that connects the terrace (above, right) with the actual field.
In the second pic you can see my experimental rice. Needs a bit of N, because it's mulched in compost instead of maní (the equivalent of Fukuoka's clover), but hey, no weeds!


What type of rice are you growing? Looks beautiful.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Gee I don't know, local costarican rice. We started with a bag of rice from the previous owner. I was surprised to see rice grown in dry soil, but here they talk about rice in flooded paddies like an exotic thing that they do where it's flat.
At any rate, that rice looks a little anemic. I was about to lose it so I sprayed it with compost tea and epsom salt and now it's a little greener.
While we're at it, I guess I'll post a pic I posted somewhere else to show the difference between soil with biochar and without. Now, THAT's some dark green rice and twice as tall!
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Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Aaaaand you're gonna have to turn your head. All the versions of this image in my computer are already upright until I upload it, weird.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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At any rate, it's a fairly long-grained rice, like bhasmati or jasmine, without the amazing fragrance. I must say, though, that when you are in the paddy, even before the flowers have come out, there is this aroma in the air, like brown rice syrup...
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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So, what about the swale, though. Anyone? I am going back there today, and I'm as excited as clueless. I mean, I watched tons of videos and know the theory, but I don't know how much rainfall we get; I know it's a LOT. Or can be. This year the rainy season is being just help and no damage.
I was just thinking of putting one of those monk drains that sepp holzer uses, so they'll never overflow, and have it drain down into another swale or something.
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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No field or swale advice, never having done any yet (sorry). But I can tell you that your pictures have to be saved in the rotated configuration or only your photo viewer will show them that way. At least that is the case with Picasa.
Gani
 
Dan Poole
Posts: 25
Location: Central TX
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I have no personal experience with digging swales, so I don't have any rules of thumb for rainfall, slope, and soil type vs swale dimensions. Appropedia has an overview of swales and links to other pages about them. The wikihow page it links to suggests 16"-18" wide.

http://www.appropedia.org/Swale

I suppose you can always increase the width and or depth if it overflows.


 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Thank you!
 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
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SergioSantoro wrote:
At any rate, it's a fairly long-grained rice, like bhasmati or jasmine, without the amazing fragrance. I must say, though, that when you are in the paddy, even before the flowers have come out, there is this aroma in the air, like brown rice syrup...


Beautiful. Yes, there are different ways of cultivating rice and different varieties better suited to one way or another. Most rice is paddy farmed, but it's not really the best way.
 
Willy Kerlang
Posts: 106
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I have dug a few swales and they are about the same dimensions as yours.  They seem to be working for me pretty well, although this is my first year with them.  We actually had too much rain and cold this spring and some of the things I planted in the berms rotted... the first planting AND the second planting.  But they look just like my swales here in Nova Scotia.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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id personally make the swale a little bigger. go into the hillside some and put that soil on the mounds. if thats your rice below the swale that is whats going to get most of the soil stored water. which will be a good thing.

also get something planted on the bare soil areas. try and toss or plant at least 5 different kinds of plants. and if you can 10 or more species for best results.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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live in a wet area here in MIchigan so swales are not my thing either, but it looks like it should work for you with all that I have read about them..
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