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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby matt walker » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:44 am

Okay, back on topic and back on the swales. It's pouring and almost snowing right now, but spring is just around the corner, and I'd like to put in at least the one swale and get some fruit trees planted this spring. I'm posting this here to remind myself that it's on the list! This last week I procured a laser transit, borrowed from a customer of mine. I'm really excited to start the layout, and less excited to start shoveling. I've given up on using equipment for this one, unless an excavator drops from the sky, I'll be digging by hand. I should be in good digging shape after that RMH cob digging marathon. Anyway, updates to come!
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby Jostein » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:33 am

You wont need to go to any gyms if you do it by hand atleast ;p Are you digging it all alone or do you have some friends/family to help you out? In any case good luck, spring is knocking here in Southeastern Norway. Fun with all the projects going on around (and to be able to read about them is all the better!) :)
Good luck and remember to drink water while doing such physical labour!
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby CJ in VT » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:51 pm

Have you thought about doing a swale/hugelkultur combo? That's my mission this year. That dead wood base should save some digging too.
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby matt walker » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:29 pm

Ha, well, I can use the exercise. No Jostein, I am pretty sure I'll be doing this project alone. I can't really imagine getting any friends excited about ditch digging! Lol. Cj, I have considered it, and I agree, it seems like a great combo. I have a LOT of material I could bury here, so I'm certainly leaning towards building up the swale that way. Also, the more I've been in my garden lately, the less I think Hugel beds will work for me there,(it's TOO wet, if I dug now the trenches would be ponds!) so I can use that material on the swales of the upper property. I think I'm just going to get started and see how it goes. One of the bigger parts of the job is actually going to be fencing out the sheep and cows. Where I intend to start this is currently part of their pasture.
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:42 pm

I think that you will find that once you start digging Matt that things will progress much better than you think they will. Once the digging starts and you start to see the improvements taking shape you will get more excited about the digging. Since you have some woods on the land I agree that the huglebed idea makes alot of sense for you. It will build up a much higher swale with much less digging, I would suggest that you still digg down a goodly way befor putting in the logs, having the wood down deeper should help encourage the fruit tree roots to run deep for the water. Having the roots running down instead of just running on top of the gound with the top soil will make them much stronger and they will stand up to the wind much better. It will also give the young trees a much better start with out as much watering.
Last edited by pa_friendly_guy on Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby matt walker » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:30 am

Good ideas Guy, thanks for the tips.

Here's something that I've wanted to share on this topic. Check out the "sheep swale" that the critters stomped into the hillside here. Look at the difference in the grass! I'm sure part of that is the nutrients from their droppings, but I also surmise that topsoil collecting there and water catchment have something to do with the lush growth at the edge of the "swale." Encouraging!

Image
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby matt walker » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:32 am

...and so, with that encouragement, I started it! I just kinda got it scratched in, broke the turf and roots and stuff. I'm excited, it's a start. I shot some video of the site that I'm trying to get posted tonight, but we'll see how that goes. Anyway, here's a photo to give you an idea of the layout.

Image
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby matt walker » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:09 am

Here's a long rambling video that sort of lays out the swale project. I get a little off subject here and there, excuse the long video.

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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby CJ in VT » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:23 pm

matt walker wrote: Check out the "sheep swale" that the critters stomped into the hillside here. Look at the difference in the grass! I'm sure part of that is the nutrients from their droppings, but I also surmise that topsoil collecting there and water catchment have something to do with the lush growth at the edge of the "swale." Encouraging!

Image

A great pic to show doubters!
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Re: The Ranch, and swales on a north facing slope

Postby matt walker » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:57 am

Got started digging on the far end of the swale. Phew!! I got an area about 8' by 5' or so dug in, and I think I'm gonna have to rent a machine or something. It is SO rocky. However, the section I got done is encouragement enough. It was so warm on that south facing slope I created by digging.
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