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The Paddock
The Paddock
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Burt Road, Woodanilling, Western Australia, AU
Climate zone:
Warm Temperate

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The Paddock

The Paddock

Woodanilling, AU

Alexandra Berendt Andrew Williamson Janice Ross Salah Hammad Terry Haven Valeria Andrews Zeljko Serdar

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Swale number 2

Project: The Paddock

Posted by Amanda McLennan about 12 years ago

After a dry summer there are no signs of life in our first swale, but we go ahead and dig swale number two (hopefully) in time for some Autumn rain.

The eucalypt tree dug into the bank of swale number 1 is still thriving and seems to have established itself nicely (see pic1 below). This was our first visit to the swale where we had no food waiting for us, in fact, there was nothing living in the first swale except a small succulent surviving on the outside edge. The remains of the dried tomato bushes were in situ and the stumps of silverbeet that we had cut at the base. Otherwise the swale was bone dry and the mulch very pale and dry, but this was after only 10ml of rain falling over the last 2 months, so not unexpected really.

We left the avocado tree stump in place and planted a lime tree to the side of it. After re-mulching with the local grass stems we placed the old eco-bag back in position to hopefully keep watering the tree for 30 days (see pic 3 below). We have learnt that the building of the swale bank and mulching needs to be done quite particularly in order for the eco-bags to do their job properly. A flat area of 15cms or so needs to be made around the base of the tree to be watered in order for the eco-bag to lie flat and slowly drain over the month, without leaving water in one of the corners of the bag.

We went ahead and dug the second swale by hand, again aiming for one shovel head wide, one deep and about 5 metres in length (see pic 2 below). We used our home-made A-frame surveyor to spray paint the contour and started about 6 metres north (and uphill) of the first swale. In order to protect the trees we started digging closer to the copse of she-oaks so that the trees planted in the swale would be protected from the mid-afternoon sun.

This caused us some difficulty when digging the swale as we would come across small she-oak roots crossing the area we were digging. The soil was dark but more compacted than we had come across when digging the first swale so we had to resort to using an axe to break up the solid earth before digging it out with the shovel. Apparently the roots of the grass growing all over the paddock only go a couple of centimetres into the ground - below this the structure of the soil was very poor.

We planted a lemon tree into the bank of the swale nearest the she-oak and a grapefruit tree about 4 metres away at the other end of the swale. We then threw seeds we have collected at home (all sorts of seeds including capsicum, chilli, pumpkin, tomato) into both swales and mulched the banks heavily with the local grass. Eco-bags went around the base of the new trees and were filled with about 25 litres of water each, we also watered the mulch well.

We will revisit in two weeks to top up the eco-bags and check on the progress of the trees. 

Another surprise we had during our visit to the block unrelated to plants and swales was that mice had chewed a hole through our tent and nested happily in our mattress in the shed. Luckily we had our blow-up mattress and a set of clean sheets as backup and it was motivation to pull everything out of the tent, and the tent out of the shed for a 'spring' clean. Needless to say the mattress has been ejected and will continue to house our micey pals until we demolish the mattress for any re-usable items such as the coils within.

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Comments (2)

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Klifford J Fyshwick
Klifford J Fyshwick : Hey Amanda, great to see you guys getting into it, what we have learnt is to stop buying fruit trees until we can improve the soil, we just made a paddock worm farm and planted some legumes to help feed the soil and of course plenty of mulch and manure.Just looking at ya site through these pics I reckon a windbreak of Acacia's would be a good start, glad to trade ideas, I'll be back down in about three weeks time, happy planting Dave.
Posted about 12 years ago

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Amanda McLennan
Amanda McLennan : Thanks Dave, I agree a windbreak is crucial as the fruit trees aren't handling the strong winds well. We are waiting to see if we can get funding next year as we would like to plant a large windbreak of fire-retardant trees around the majority of the property.
Posted almost 12 years ago

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