Water Ponding/Management/keyline

Claude Genest genest at together.net
Thu Dec 27 12:17:57 EST 2001

Hi Frank,

Since the area is wooded, perhaps you might consider placing those large
beeches across the slope, on contour, braced by still standing trees.
Add to these whatever duff, litter, branches are about and in no time you'll
have a leaky kind of gabion/berm that on top of bioaccumulating humus will
serve to slow and spread the water, deal with gullying, and be a lot easier
than digging/ripping. This also puts into practice the PC principles of
using locally available biological resources, and doing the least work for
the gretaest effect....

Claude Genest

"The Greatest Fine Art of the future will be the making of a comfortable
living from a small piece of land."
- Abraham Lincoln 
Green Mountain Permaculture : Solutions, Sustainability, Sustenance....

> From: FranksFarm at aol.com
> Reply-To: "permaculture" <permaculture at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
> Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2001 07:17:27 EST
> To: "permaculture" <permaculture at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
> Subject: Re: Water Ponding/Management/keyline
> Good day,
> First let me add a prayer for our Australian friends that may be affected by
> those Sydney Bush fire.
> And thanks John for the further clarifications.
> I sure do like your idea of a Keyline/PC Conference on my farm. I think it
> would spark a great deal of energy. Any one interested in teaching or
> participating?
> Sorry, I was not as clear in my initial posts. Indeed I was talking about
> forested hillsides.
> <<In general I would avoid soil disturbance in forested areas (especially
> subsoil ripping!  :-o  ...but also most anything that messes up your
> natural forest soil/duff/fungi/etc.>>
> Whew!  Good thing you mentioned that...I was more than a little concerned
> about the difficulty in the soils that exist.
> I spend a good deal of time in the woods when I can.And try to observe as
> much as I can. It's really fascinating. And winter is a great time to observe.
> For the most part I try NOT to disturb natural order of things. There's lots
> of duff, downed trees /limbs throughout the forest, which was probably logged
> over 15 years ago.
> Down here in KY beech apparently doesn't PAY it's way out of the woods. So I
> have a number of huge beech trees throughout the forest. Some are hollow,
> some den trees...and some are solid. The beech trees are also very well
> adapted, and produce lots of offspring. The problem is these beech can over
> time choke out more desirable trees. Some huge beech can dominate/shade out
> over a half acre of ground or some I'm told.
> In order to improve the selection of hard wood trees, and release more
> desirable species the state forester has advised me to take down a lot of the
> large beeches.
> Anyone know of good uses for beech, markets other than pallet wood? Here's
> prices for pallet wood have really dropped to less than 15 cents a foot.
> The drains of which I spoke seem to arise in low spots between adjacent hills
> or in the saddles between hills on the high ridges. Much of the times these
> drains are empty but when it rains heavily or often can really carry water
> away swiftly. This is somewhat mitigated by downed trees/obstacles that cause
> water to carve out new channels, or create boggy areas on lower grounds. Thus
> I have too much water in some areas, and not enough in others. According to
> my understanding of PC I should try to spread that water out more evenly keep
> it on the land longer.
> One of my concerns is if I'm successful how will that affect areas that have
> adapted to excess waters?
> <<Implementing keyline strategies addresses both of these extremes - less
> trouble with excess precipitation and more water in soil and ponds,
> etc. in droughty times.>>
> Yup...that's the nub:)
> <<Are some of these side ridges, so to speak, from other ridges? >>
> Hmmm...here in southern KY we have lots of hills and hollows that run up and
> down and join others. Many ridges are not very long. On my property I have
> one very long ridge and far more that are fairly short with other hills (more
> like steep points or knobs) that fall off to hollows at base of adjacent
> hills.
> So there are lots of hills and hollows in my woods. Thus most of the
> drainage's eventually collect in the hollows and then are either led into
> carved out channels, or create boggy/muddy areas in any low spots in the low
> land pastures. It is the latter situation I'm trying to address. I'd like to
> both capture, and spread out the water in keyline ponds, furrows? , Etc.
> Wild grapevines seem to be especially well adapted when left alone. Problem
> is they get into canopy, bind other trees together and in high winds can
> actually help bring down huge trees, and others in their path. OTH they
> probably help to stabilize the slopes.
> I've decided to cut as many of them as I can. many trees are also covered by
> hairy vines like poison oak, or poison ivy that can grow quite thick
> too...causing similar problems.
> Hills on my place are fairly uniform that is they descend from top to bottom
> with little interruption. Generally tops are quite steep, and gradually
> decline as hills broaden. Occasionally there are ledges or benches that go
> round the hill near the midway point. Some of these are probably natural
> others may have been cut out by loggers.
> Most of the hollows, and there are quite a few on my farm are steep and deep.
> So water will collect in them no matter what. Since I believe in working with
> nature I often wonder whether trying to modify such may create other problems
> I'm not aware of down the road.
> I hope these descriptions give enough detail.
> I think all this water is a bounty that needs to be better used but am not
> sure how best to accomplish that.
> Look forward to more discussion...Darren, Ken, Larry , etc. I would love to
> have your comments. Perhaps someone could then synthesize the consensus
> solutions in a FAQ that could be useful to others; to help them implement PC
> principles.
> Best to all in 2002.  Frank
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