Now ain’t that swale?

Our swales and berms for the orchard are done, thanks to Lynch’s Excavating in West Branch. We’re thrilled, but the reality compared to our pencil drawings will require some adjustment. We had hoped we could get berms 30 feet apart, but that wasn’t reasonable given the space, so they’re closer to 15 feet apart. We’ll have to spread our trees out farther, but that leaves room for more currants and elderberries in between!

mid tier swales

The next project was to get them seeded with a cover. The terrain made this impossible with traditional machinery. Grant Schultz at Versaland was kind enough to bring over his truck tire chains – wow are they heavy! I rigged with with an 8-foot 2″x4″ and raked them over the berms to loosen the caked surface. But the slopes of the swales were impossible. (After seeding I realized we could have just dragged the chains off the side of our 4×4 from above each swale…but too late now!)

dragging chains

We seeded tillage radish to bore into the hard soil and provide nutrient, white dutch clover as a nitrogen fixer and ground cover, and annual ryegrass to grow quickly as a short-term ground cover, plus some kale from Grant. Now if we’d just get some rain that might beat out the weeds that have already begun to spring up.

Our friend Toni helped with seeding by hand. She said she “felt like a real farmer” when she was done.

toni the farmer