Iain Bagnall

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since Nov 23, 2011
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Recent posts by Iain Bagnall

Deano Martin is doing some amazing work in Lincolnshire. Have a look at his site here: http://sustainablesmallholding.org/
6 years ago
Hi Looby,

Firstly, well done on the new book; I will find it to be a really useful tool as I explore what Paul would probably call "Purple" Permaculture.
The more I scratch the surface of the less tangible side of Permaculture, the more I appreciate its value in bringing a deeper connection to the land, which will help me in my land-based design.

I have been looking into the 8 forms of capital a lot recently, and have noticed in your book that that you have added another to the original 8: Health and Wellbeing. I recall Ethan Roland saying that his 8 forms was a draft map, and that he would be interested to see additional capital flows appear, but you are the first person I have seen who is stretching these edges.

How you would envision Health & Wellbeing being exchanged as a form of capital?
And would you welcome people proposing further ways of thinking in addition to your seven?

7 years ago
We've also found it weirdly impossible to get GKH to germinate despite trying for the last 2 or 3 years. I keep looking for some to dig up but haven't found any yet! We've tried this in Devon and Hertfordshire, with no success in either location. Will try the float/sink test next time though.
7 years ago
There are some videos in this thread that I haven't seen before, so that's my evening sorted

I have to say, I was put off Back to Eden because of the religious angle.
Also, his use of the woodchips is great but it's still a huge input that his system relies upon.
Perhaps I should go back and force myself to re-watch it though, as it gets a lot of praise.

I love this Ben Falk "Observations" film: http://vimeo.com/54175192

8 years ago
Very good point, Paul, I'll try to give more of a detailed description of the scenario:

The problem we have is that we are in an area of relatively high rainfall as we are near Dartmoor in Devon.
The soil is clay - we have about 2-3" of pretty decent clay-ish topsoil, then gradually becoming more clay. About a foot under the surface, we then hit solid grey clay. I've dug down about 3 feet and it's still the thick grey clay. How far down, I don't know yet.

We don't have much in the way of hills around us that run water down onto our land, or rivers, streams etc, it's just that the water that is there from that rainfall, just sort of sits there on the surface. It's a bit soggy in summer (soggier this year due to the rain we've had) and in winter, there is standing water on the surface. It's not underwater as such, but not far off.

We are planting up as many deep-rooted plants as possible, to try to break up that clay soil a bit.

Beyond that, my thinking was to create some off-contour swales to run some of that water down towards a pond, which will also provide a more diverse landscape, with mounds, swales, small ponds, hugelkultur beds, therefore lots more edge, and some different niches and microclimates to play with.

Willow is in my plans to soak up some of the water, as is bamboo.

This will all be done by hand, so we were going to put in one swale, and see how much of a difference all this makes to the area above the swale, with a view to putting in more if all goes well with the first one, only if we're putting in more, we'll hire a minidigger.

So, the quick answers to your questions would be:
1. No
2. No
3. Yes, although there is some slope so some areas are wetter than others
4. Yes, that's certainly a consideration.

One further problem (although also a lovely benefit in some ways) is that we are in an area of culm grassland, a local wetland habitat which is a depleting habitat for endangered butterflies and other creatures. We have consulted with our local Wildlife Trust, and on their advice, are going to leave around 1/4 - 1/3rd of the site (the wettest part that is slightly downslope and out of the way from the area we are looking to drain) as grassland for habitat.

Where the grassland has not been managed, though, we have very tall soft rush, which has totally dominated. Where we have started cutting this to encourage a more diverse mix of grasses, the ground is getting slightly less damp as the sun and wind get to the ground. We're doing all of this slowly and all with hand tools to begin with, in order to observe the changes and learn as much as possible about the land, rather than rushing in with the diggers and making possibly mistakes that can't be rectified.
9 years ago
Thanks Robin, that's fantastic.
While some of the other links etc have been useful, what I have been looking for is something that goes into more detail on how to actually implement what I'm hoping to do. This site looks to do that, which is brilliant.
9 years ago
Glad I'm not the only one Jason, but whenever I look online or watch a video of Lawton (or whoever) putting in swales, it's always on contour.
I was hoping someone might have some experience of doing it the other way around and running water off the land rather than trying to capture it.
But so far, nothing.

9 years ago
(I originally bumped an old thread, now assigned to the organic forum since the new format came in, but nobody has replied, probably because it wasn't really the right place for that subject matter, so I'm putting it up here...)

We are looking to drain some of the excess water off our almost flat, heavy clay soil.

From everything that I have researched, it looks like off contour swales should help us do the job, but the only information I can find is about putting in swales on contour.

Brenda Goth mentioned here: https://permies.com/t/10983/organic/water-loged-soil about starting at the lowest point and putting in a pond, which sounds logical but will require more time, money and manpower than we currently have available. Although of course if that really is the way to go, I will wait until I can do the job properly.

We are planning to put in a pond in the future anyway, in the lowest part of the land, but I was intending to put the swales in first, encouraging the water down towards that area.

So, does anyone have any detailed instructions/advice on how to put in off-contour swales (Specifically any instructions/tips on actually digging out the swales off-contour, if relevant), or any conflicting advice or suggestions as to why this might not work or is not a good idea?

9 years ago