[permaculture] Fruit trees and swales

dwoodard at becon.org dwoodard at becon.org
Sun Mar 26 18:03:23 EST 2006

Tailor the location to water requirements of the species - yes.

However most "fruit trees" that I know of seem to prefer well drained soil
and to produce best in well drained soil.

There are a few like elderberry which is not exactly a potential staple,
that like moist soil; and I believe that Amelanchier laevis likes soil
that is moist *in the spring*. Among "vegetables" ground-nut (Apios
americana) seems to like moist to wet soil and I have read a passing
mention of a "swamp taro" grown in the Pacific islands.

But I think it's safe to say that most of our existing and potential food
crops as well as "fruit trees" like well drained soil with *adequate*
moisture in it.

Edges of swales I expect can be very useful. "In swales" probably doen't
suit most direct human food crops unless soil wetness is very seasonal,
for some crops which tolerate seasonal wetness.

For dry areas with a not very pervious surface, the Nabateans' technique
of trenches feeding reverse wells was and is successful (see "The Negev"
by Evenari c. 1970).

The East Indian technique of using "tanks" to maintain the water table
might be though of as related to swales.

Doug Woodard
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

On Sun, 26 Mar 2006, Kevin Topek wrote:

> I can see that there are several opinions on this issue and that one
> solution does not fit all situations. Doug is correct that Prunus species do
> not like wet feet. In fact, I tend to plant them above swales, not below,
> since it is usually wet where I live. Maybe the best aprroach is to tailor
> the planting location to the water requirements of the species to be planted
> and precipitation volumes of the region. Plants wanting dry feet above the
> swale or on the berm and wet feet loving species in the swale or below the
> berm. I still recommend trying to preserve the integrity of the swale and
> berm for as long as possible to gain maximum benefit from the energy put
> into creating the earthworks! Mulching the exposed subsoil will go a long
> way in mitigating any negative effects it creates from being unearthed.
> Kevin


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