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11. The Swales 2 weeks after installation

It's been about 2-1/2 weeks since we finished the swale installation at our place.

Since then I have continued to shape the swale ditches, spillways and berms. And planted grass seed in the ditches. I've made the angle of the ditch walls wider so it will be easier to scythe the grass that grows on it later.

A deer got in and ate most of the leaves off the little apple tree that David planted. I hope it can recover.

For one of the spillways I carved a shallow serpentine path in it's bed to slow the water flow when it spills over. For the other spillway I plan to use larger rocks placed in the bed of the spillway (alternating one side then the other) to slow the water in that one. When the heavy rains come, I look forward to seeing how the water moves through the spillways when (and if) the swale ditches fill and over flow into them. That will help us determine if we need to raise or lower the spillways or further shape the swale ditches to more effectively channel the water.

Another step is to figure out what kind of perennial plants to add to the swale berms. Right now we have cover crop of rye, oat, crimson clover, sunflower, and vetch. These are for preventing erosion, crowding out weeds, adding nitrogen to the soil and for biomass. (did I forget any other purposes???). We have a few blueberry bushes, the one apple tree, a couple of Sea Buckthorne, a Josta berry bush and a few annuals. (I'm probably forgetting something). However there is still a lot of space where there is nothing but the temporary cover crop.

The ideal thing is to have a thick multi-layering of perennials....low, medium and tall growing plants. Some food bearing, some to enhance soil and provide habitat for beneficial insects and animals. We need to do some more research on this one. One factor is that I don't want too high a planting as that would block the view through the property that I love so much.

Here are some photos of the swales 2+ weeks after, with the cover crop growth:

First this is a reminder view of before the cover crop was sprouting up....the seeds had just been planted and are covered with hay in this shot:

Here's a shot of the same swale (different angle though), with the cover crop coming up and further down on the right you can see how I shaved the side of the ditch to have a wider angle and the grass seed is coming up all nice and green.

Small apple tree on the left with fewer leaves due to deer nibblings:

Here's a view of the other swale. On the right you can see the cover crop coming up on the berm. On the left you can see the grass coming up on the left side of the ditch. And further to the left you can see a beginning of a raised bed made out of the sod and top soil that came out of the swale:

And now for something sweet:

Sweet peas surrounded by Kale:

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