[permaculture] Looking for good examples of the use of berms and swales & definition of each

lbsaltzman at aol.com lbsaltzman at aol.com
Thu Jul 12 10:27:30 EDT 2007




I was just having a talk with an experienced organic farmer who lives about a block from me in a neighborhood that has pottery grade clay soil.? At his home, he only attempts perennial trees and bushes in heavy clay.? His farm which is a few miles away is blessed with a more sandy loam.?I was coming to the same conclusion and didn't have the courage of my convictions. I had watched annual vegetables sulk and fail?in the heavy clay while fruit trees have thrived. Interestingly the one other?crop that is thriving, that I would never have guessed, is strawberries.? 

I have tried endlessly piling compost and mulch on, planting deep rooted pioneering species, and sticking long forks in the ground to open the soil etc. etc. The surface remained nearly inpenetrable.? One year, as a small experiment,?I double dug a small section and heavily amended with compost. I got great production for a year, but the next year things returned to heavy clay conditions and you could hardly see organic material in the soil.? So my annual vegetables have moved to inexpensive half wine barrels filled with lovely compost and a touch of soil and the abandoned growing areas will get more foodbearing trees.



So, where do you plant your plants when you're using a berm in clay soil
(which we have)?  On the tops of the berms?  I'm presuming not in the
valleys, since that's where the water would collect???  And, being clay
soil, what is the recommended/most favorable type of planting for this clay
soil?  Especially if you're talking about planting on the tops of the berms?
S&M




-----Original Message-----
From: Margaret & Steven Eisenhauer <eisenhauerdesign at earthlink.net>
To: 'permaculture' <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 4:17 pm
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Looking for good examples of the use of berms and swales & definition of each



So, where do you plant your plants when you're using a berm in clay soil
(which we have)?  On the tops of the berms?  I'm presuming not in the
valleys, since that's where the water would collect???  And, being clay
soil, what is the recommended/most favorable type of planting for this clay
soil?  Especially if you're talking about planting on the tops of the berms?
S&M

-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of yarrow at sfo.com
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 2:19 PM
To: permaculture
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Looking for good examples of the use of berms
and swales & definition of each

Berms are also effective if you have clay soil and want to plant 
anything that likes very well drained soil. Make them about a foot 
wide and high, and as long as needed. No soil amendments needed; the 
berm keeps water from collecting near the roots.
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