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200m Swale System Planting Job – Noosa Area, Queensland, Australia

This march on a hot Saturday, I had the chance to plant a diversity of plants in 2 swales with a total length of 200 meters. The swale systems was implemented by Tom Kendall from PRI Sunshine Coast together with an excavator driver and 3 practical training students at the property of Tom’s client near Noosa.

Afterwards Jason Davis from Permaculture Noosa Group and myself planted together 54 different species of trees and also a few vines and bushes.The climate there is subtropical which means it supports a very high diversity of plant species from many regions of this planet.


One of the swales before planting with the trees still in pots

A week before we planted the high value fruit and nut species,Jason came in and sowed a cover crop. The function of the cover crop is to protect the disturbed soil,to bring back soil surface cover and hold the soil in place and also build biomass to improve the soil structure.

The cover crop mixture contained species like Sorghum, Corn, Sunflower, Millet, Wyncassia and Cowpea. The more fibrous plants like Millet, Sorghum, Corn and Sunflower have the role of bringing carbon to the soil. The nitrogen fixing species like Wyncassia and Cowpea help with fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil.


The cover crop starting to sprout on the swale mount

Together with Jason,we planted 54 different species into a 200 meter swale system, with a planting pattern of 4 meters between plants. We also planted vines like Passion fruit or Boysenberry and one dragon fruit.

We created a Trellis for the Passion Fruit to climb on and also created a structure for the Dragon fruit to climb on.


The Dragon fruit wood pole climbing structure


The trellis for our passion fruit

Before we planted the trees into the soil we hydrated them in a bucket of water so the trees have a good start into their new lives in a new place. Its is also a possibility to soak them in some worm juice or comfrey juice before planting to give them a nutrient boost.Fungal dominated compost Tea works also very well as trees prefer a fungal dominated soil environment!


Some of the trees soaking in a bucket filled with water before planting

After planting them all on the swale mount we watered each tree individually with a bucket of water and mulched around the tree with mulch material gathered on site.


The trees planted out on the swale mount and mulched

The next step consisted of putting posts into the ground and surrounding it with mesh to protect the valuable trees from kangaroos and other possible wildlife that could disturb the young trees.The kangaroos were observing us already the whole day while working on site!


A row of trees with protective mesh around

We planted a high diversity of fruit and nut tress like Carambola, Fejoa, Carob, Candle Nut, bay leaf, Litchi, Wampi, Tropical Apple, Paw Paw, Soursoup, Custard Apple, finger Lime, Cumquat, Pomergranate and many many more! An amazing diversity and looking forward to return soon to the site again to see how everything is developing…….

Many Thanks to Tom Kendall and Jason Davis for this opportunity!

For more articles like this one you can see my blog.

One Comment

  1. I’m putting in 3-4 swales along my hillside and plan to plant fig trees on them. One question, I have access to dead eucalyptus (blue gum) wood. I’ve read the roots and leaves are allopathic but haven’t read anything regarding the trunks. Do you know if it’s safe to use the ‘wood’ of the tree in the bottom of the swale/hugelkulture? The trees have been standing dead for a year. They do burn well in the fireplace if I can’t use in the swale so they won’t go to waste. Thanks! Sue in California, USA.

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