Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Welcome to swaleville, population one. Well you have got to start some where. I do have plans to continue the swale breeding program. My swale making studs, pick and shovel, are always eager to dig in. :)

If you are not up on your Permaculture jargon, you might be asking yourself - what is a swale?

A swale is a fancy word for water holding ditch. Its purpose is to capture water during high mounts of rain or run-off and temporarily store it. This allows the water to slowly seep into the sub-soil where plants with deep roots can take advantage of it. As well, if swales are built at the top of a hill, this can help deliver ground water to areas near the bottom of the hill. Whether this works will depend on your soil profile.

Swales also have the added bonus of capturing organic material, which quickly breaks down when the swales are damp or wet. This in turn provides nutrients to plants.

Swales are built along contour lines, or as close as possible to. This allows the full height of the swale to be filled with water along its entire length. In my case, the swale was purposely built just off the contour line. However I did mound the soil more on the northern end so that, as the soil settles and becomes more of a barrier, it will fill up evenly across its length.

My swale starts to the south near our grass driveway and continues towards the rose garden. It has been designed so that the overflow will go towards the rose garden and then down to some future swales. This should help reduce the amount of water flow down the driveway during high rainfall events.

The swale has been planted with two small leafed Jaboticabas and one Ceylon Hill Cherry (aka Hill Goosebrry, aka Downy Myrtle, aka Rose Myrtle, etc - latin name Rhodomyrtus tometosa). I will also put in some Rosellas to fill in the gaps for the next few seasons. I still need to finalise what I will do at the southern end of the swale. My current plan is to plant another Ceylon Hill Cherry as well as a native lillypilly. With the exception of the temporary plantings, this will mean that all the plants are from the Myrtaceae family. Moreover, they are all extremely attractive food producing plants.

Anyway I have heaps of other things to plant in the area so that my food forest can start taking shape, so I had better get busy ensuring another round of courtship proceeds smoothly (or on the level).

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