Thursday, July 7, 2011

Over Hill, Over Swale

In which Truffla finds herself in one of those life phases where things simply seem to come together at just the right moment... 

Over hill, over dale swale,
Through bush, through briar,
-- with apologies to William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
That's right: I have swales on my mind.  Lots of them.  But I digress...

I'm having one of those runs during which pieces suddenly fall into place:

  • The other week, I happened to pick up a copy of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Agriculture from the library, just because I'd seen some articles and blog posts which referenced it.  I read through it (my "light" bus reading...), having little epiphanies along the way.  I maxed out on the loan period, and turned the book back in.
  • Last month, I went to two presentations, one on Brix and nutrient density, and the other was introduction to using swales to manage water in the garden.
  • That swale preso actually more like a gentle intoduction to permaculture.  And, it turned out that the (fabulous) permaculture speaker gave consultations... 
  • which two friends and I were interested...  In my case, remember how I quit our dear CSA?  Now, I'm committed to making our property as productive as possible!
  • We three friends pooled our efforts and arranged back-to-back consultations on the same day.  We attended each others' sessions, benefitting from each others' questions, and taking copious notes.  Essentially, we created our own all-day permaculture workshop!  What an amazing day!!!

While I need to be planning for our next homeschooling year, and knocking some other time-sensitive things off of my to-do list, I'm itching to surf the web for more information on things like jostaberries, the most cost-effective place to buy several cubic yards of compost, and yes, swale building.  While I'm at it, my eye might just wander to other garden goodies like labyrinths (wouldn't it be groovy to have one in the yard?) and sundials (ha!  In all of our shade, those sunny patches need to go to edibles!).

Thinkin' about swale placement...
We celebrated our 4th of July by pruning creating some independence from large tree limbs.  We also did a bunch of measuring, trying to envision where and how swales could and should move water, and how they'd function as planting beds.  It's painful to lop off perfectly good branches.  Ok, well, I'll concede that some might have been on the leggy or even dead side.  The end result is freeing, though -- there's more air, more light, more space, more open possibilities.
One full can ready for yard trim collection -- more to come!
A delicious section of the garden, sans permaculture, but avec happy bees on that hyssop :-)
The planning isn't quite shovel-ready -- stay tuned for updates.  Better, more fertile soil and an increasingly edible landscape is in the near future for this little slice of suburbia!

Bon appetit!


mb said...

love gaia's garden (my winter reading, i too maxed out on the loan period, read it cover to cover.) and i love seeing your swale drawing! so cool.

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Wow you have really had a lot going on! Lots of good ideas and I think a sundial would look awesome in a garden.

Green Bean said...

Swales is on my to do list as well. We live on a slope and get quite a bit of run off through our yard It would be nice to get that soaked into the ground instead of running down the street and into the Bay. I'm also investigating at rain garden.

BTW, I LOVE Gaia's Garden. It is actually worth owning - and I don't say that lightly. I've been consulting it multiple times every year for garden design over the last four years or so.


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