Category Archives: Swale

2014 food forest swale that was seeded and covered weeks ago.

Food forest Swale cover crops common vetch, clover, biochar, leaves and worms.

Made a batch of biochar today since I could be there long enough for it to surely finish which took at least 3 hours. I always make sure and cool it off by filling the keg with water. Just spraying water on it will not cool it off enough to keep the biochar from burning up leaving you only ash.

Most of the hazel nut bushes have survived so I put tree guards around all of them that showed some life. Most are loosing their leaves now. They really have not grown much with many of them growing a new stem after the original one dropped its leaves.

Biochar in keg retort
Biochar in keg retort

Bio char steaming after a water spray.

Bio char steaming after a water spray
Bio char steaming after a water spray

2014 food forest swale that was seeded and covered weeks ago. I spread a bit more straw today and looked for signs of sprouted clover that was seeded weeks ago.

2014 food forest swale that was seeded and covered weeks ago.
2014 food forest swale that was seeded and covered weeks ago.

And look what I found down in the moist straw.

Clover sprouting for food forest swale cover
Clover sprouting for food forest swale cover

On the 2014 original swale and the extensions I made on the 2013 Swales I planted a seed mix that included common vetch which is growing really well late into the season and still has flowers.

Common vetch on food forest swale
Common vetch on food forest swale

Year old leaf pile with worms on backside of the upper 2013 food forest swale. I added some worms to this early in the year and I was very pleased to dig down and find worms living in the pile. Except for the garden area the soil is worm free so I’ve been adding them to compost and leaf piles all around. Hopefully we will have some mini Hereford cows to help the soil and worms.

Year old leaf pile with worms on backside of swale
Year old leaf pile with worms on backside of swale

Updates September 16 swale and trees

Here are some of the straw bales that I spread out over the newly dug hugel swale. I first threw out some clover seeds then I spread the straw out. I them threw out a bit more clover seed over the straw.

Most of this straw has been sitting on the groin out in a field since last year. So part of it was very wet and some had mushrooms growing out of it.

It takes a lot more time to spread out wet straw! Paying a dollar or two for each dry bale would have saved me a lot if time.
imagePinion pine after first summer

Below is one of the pinion pines that survived its first summer. Besides the attention they got when being planted which included biochar, soil amendments, initial water and mulch they have been neglected. The 25 ponderosa trees have faired much worse with most all of them dying months ago. They were much taller and the wind looked to take quite a toll on them. Even the four in tree guards died.
image

Second food forest swale completed

On Wednesday I finished the digging portion of the swale for the 2014 food forest. I added some more organic matter that I found in our neighborhood including: grass clippings, aspen limbs and even some worms.

This first photo shows the organic matter that makes up the woody core of the swale mound.
Woody core in swale

Here are some photos after the digging.
Second food forest swale before completionSecond food forest swale completionFood forest swale completed

I dug this half of the swale with a skid steer with a straight edge bucket. The other half was dug with an excavator with teeth on the bucket.
Having dug Swales with an excavator and a skid steer I found the skid steer to be quicker. I do wish the skid steer had teeth on the bucket so I could rough up the soil. The skid steer has a five or six foot bucket making it really quick to dig this swale. I’m sure a large excavator with an experienced operator would be quicker than I was on the excavator I rented.