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The Movement Of Water In a Semi-Arid Landscape & The Blessing Of Rain!

We LOVE it when it rains; the sound, the smell and what it does for our garden! We are coming off the back of a serious dry spell and so when we heard rain was coming early in January, we thought it was a good time to start a bit of experimental earthworks to try and slow some of the water that flows off the ridges and into our dam. The flow from a previous downfall, which we weren’t around for, had showed evidence that wha20160102_17250720160103_161948t we had wasn’t really working, so it was time to have another go!
I don’t really ‘get’ water movement – but after this rain, I can see it much more clearly.

Sometimes you just have to see it to understand it! I remember Nick Huggins telling me that when it rains I need to get out in my coat and boots and go and watch it…so I took his advice and I did!

You can see two views in these pictures. The image on the left is looking north/east up the gully and away from the dam, before the rain and the image on the right next to it shows the view looking into the dam away from the gully during the rain!

This little rock barrier definately slowed the water a bit, but more than likely, if it’s going to be of any real use in the future, it needs to be bigger.

In fact, it seemed to catch silt more than slow water.

 

In these images you can see further up the gully where I have attempted to make rock walls to slow the moving water – the newspaper and straw patches were originally a big patch of new garden bed I was making, but got strewn in the first big storm, on Boxing day night. It was a useful exercise to see what happens to the water as it flows through the gully. It doesn’t rain often here, we are in a very dry climate; but often when it does rain, it rains big and hard! In the space of 10 days we had two storms yielding inches in hours. So we need to maximise the movement of this water through the landscape as well as catching as much of it as we possibly can. On both occasions the dam overflowed, so there is bottom of the catchment work to be done too. Our future plans will include how to hold the water for longer in the beds – this gully area is planned for a Food Forrest so we need to make sure the water is moving slowly and soaking in rather than rushing and running off. It’s a work in progress, but it’s very interesting.

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