• Manisha Lath Gupta

Water Management in Permaculture: Swales - II

Updated: Apr 12

The coming of monsoon is always a good to time to reassess the flow of water on your land, and make sure you are slowing down, soaking and storing as much water a possible on your land. As we surveyed our land in our 7th monsoon, we found a sloping patch leading up to the pond, which was devoid of swales and trees (we must have mad different plans for it back then). It was time to get the A Frame out and dig fresh swales in this area. The video below shows how to make an A Frame and mark out swales along contour lines.

Once the contours are marked, we dug the contours about 8 inches deep, and piled up the displaced soil on the underside of the slope. Now, the water coming down the hill will get trapped in these swales, and build a rich underground water lens as it travels towards the pond.

digging swales on incline

Given that swales trap so much water, its great to plant trees and others plants around this area. We transplanted about 30 odd fruit trees like litchi, mango, guava and mulberry, that were growing randomly around the farm, around these swales.

planting trees around swales

We also had a lot of ornamental plants like some cactii, birds of paradise, baby bananas, travellers palm that were producing a lot of baby plants. We removed all those and planted them on the berm of the swale. We also threw in seeds of flowering plants and basil into the swale so we can get those beautiful bushes to grow within.

putting ornamental plants on the berms of the swale

Finally, we had a lot of Poplar tree saplings growing in our nursery, and since Poplars require a lot of water, we thought this might be the best place to give them a home before they are harvested 5 years hence.

the water slows down as it makes its way to the pond

So, we started with digging swales, but have ended with an entire garden being built with trees, plants and saplings found randomly around the farm!

the entire area has transformed into a garden

We will share the pictures of the swales a few months from now, when all our plants and seeds have stabilised and grown. Stay tuned!

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