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

Tommy Tolson healinghawk at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 12 16:25:10 EDT 2007

In the summer, a sharp pickaxe wouldn't penetrate the surface of the 
adobe soil we had on the Santa Rosa Plain in California.  We laid out 
swales on level and built berms with the adobe that came out of the 
swales.  We kept the berms mulched with straw then sheetmulched them 
when they needed more than that (bare spots sprouted prodigious weeds in 
a hurry).  The berms were watered with timed drip lines.  We grew 
strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, fruit trees, olives, and 
vegetables on the berms.  Our kitchen garden was a raised bed mandala 
garden filled with bought dirt because it was less energy expenditure 
than moving adobe, which is incredibly heavy.  Everything grew fantastic 
on the berms, as long as the mulch stayed on and the water lines 
worked.  We had more singing frogs than I'd heard before, as long as the 
swales were filled with rainwater.  Birds came to our place to find 
water in the dry season and to eat the grass seed from the seedheads of 
pasture we didn't mow.  It was like bird heaven.  We had a very small 
"pest" infestation.  That was a sweet place.   My partner didn't like 
it, though.

Tommy Tolson
Austin, TX

More information about the permaculture mailing list