daniel smith

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since Aug 15, 2012
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Recent posts by daniel smith

Chris Stelzer wrote: Pigs seem like a natural fit. But, you’d need a big food forest to produce enough pork to feed even just your family. What about making a profit by selling to other families or becoming a pork producer? Can a food forest give you that? I don’t know, maybe. Sepp Holzer in Austria has great success with it, but lives in a different environment than I do.



A 300lb pig will produce at least 150lbs of meat for the freezer. I would think you could have at least 2-3 pigs per acre in an established food forest. How many pounds of meat do you eat per month?
6 years ago
the 1v:4h is the correct measurement - so I assume I just calculated the gradient incorrectly.

Let's call it 25% overall (an this will probably come closer to 20% on the lower end of the slope, 30% on the upper end)

So, there seem to be 2 different strategies you are suggesting here. Here's what I understand:

The first strategy is to create a segmented series of separate relatively shallow swales, that are about 8' in length, with a wooden board that is essentially on contour to retain the edge?

The second strategy is to create a serpentine swale (again, relatively shallow) running down the slope with wooden boards along the edge. Are you also suggesting that I create intentional "erosion proof" spill zones that are reinforced with wooden boards and stones? (i cant fully visualize the specifics of your description here)


I'm curious to understand how the hard edge works with a berm.... I had planned on having berms on the downhill side of my swales. In order to do this would the boards have to reach up to the peak of the berms (placed between the swale and the berm)?
6 years ago
Christopher, Thank you so much for your thorough response!

I just determined the steepness of the slope using http://www.mytopo.com/search.cfm?type=pns
(A really awesome tool that overlays topographic maps over google maps)

I've determined that the overall slope is 14% gradient, or a gain in 1 foot of elevation every 4 feet.

This is the overall slope, however. In reality, the slope that is closer to the house is probably about 10%, whereas the slope farthest from the house is probably about 20% (the house is at the downhill most part of the property)

I have found a geologic report of Scotts Valley online. I have a difficult time ascertaining anything significant from the report, however, it does mention that the location is marked by "moderate to high landslide risk"
(if you feel so inclined, you can read the report here)

- -

Now, if I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that the best strategy is to create swales on contour that have hard even edges all the way along, to prevent erosion and promote sheet flow is that correct?

If this is incorrect, please let me know what I am missing. If this is correct, could you point me in the right direction as to where I can learn to do this effectively?

Thanks again, your input is greatly appreciated!
6 years ago
I'm in the initial planning stages to develop a piece of property in Zone 9, Santa Cruz, CA (30'' avg rainfall) - into a productive permaculture landscape.

The site has a south facing slope of a yet undetermined steepness.
The slope is dry clay rich soil that is covered in grasses.

I want to establish a food forest along the slope without terracing. I believe that establishing a series of swales and berms along the hill will allow me to sink water into the soil while establishing nitrogen fixing plants along berms to restore the land and prevent erosion.

I've seen a few different options with swales:
-One option is making swales on contour. This will retain the most water in the land, but may also lead to the possibility of mudslides. My question here is, how steep is too steep for on-contour swales?

-Another option, as recommended by Sepp Holzer, is to make swales that are slightly off contour, parallel with eachother, to slow the water, but allow it to run off without eroding the hillside.

-The third option I've come accross, is to make a zig-zagging swale that snakes it's way down the hillside - going along contour and then "turning" until it is heading back along a lower contour, and so on from the top of the hill to the bottom.


However, I'm not totally sure when these various swale strategies are used. If anyone could educate me as to the application of these different types of swales, I would greatly appreciate it!
6 years ago