Swales and keylines

I am thankful that our agroforestry class in Wisconsin was the first week of sunshine they had in over a month. My boots did get to schloop through the muddy spots but no need for a poncho. We learned to measure out the land using an A-frame and how to figure a 1% downward grade in order to make the swales for the water to flow out to the normally drier spots. The idea that we send it all downriver through tiles and storm sewers creates more issues for our neighbors.

The swales that we hope to make across our land will follow the contours. Berms are made with the soil from the swale and fruit & nut bearing trees and shrubs are planted downslope from the berm. A “keyline” cut is made with a subsoiler following the curve of the swale every 4 feet or so. These cuts create underground channels for the water to seep through. The alleys between the plantings of trees are seeded to cover crops or field crops in a rotational manner. Then of course, our pigs, cows, sheep and chickens will have a heyday as they fall in step!

Soil that is bare to the elements diminishes as it is washed away – have you noticed how fast nature tries to cloth itself? When water comes down like rocks from a sling shot it destroys even more; Swiss chard takes it full on the leaf. I made some wonderful Hail-shattered Swiss Chard Custard:

5 Cups packed cups of cooked Swiss Chard

1 cup chopped green onions

1 Tb oil

1/2 lb grated cheddar

½ cup parmesan

1 cup cottage cheese

6 eggs

1 cup milk

The simple procedure is: 1. Fry the onions. Add the Swiss Chard and cook until a bit limp – about 5 minutes. 2. Oil the pan for the custard. 3. Pour boiling water in a larger pan that the custard is to sit in while baking. 3. Mix the eggs, cottage cheese and milk. 4. Layer in some of the grated cheddar, then pour over some of the milk mixture. 5. Layer in the chard, the rest of the grated cheddar and pour over the rest of the milk mixture. 6. Sprinkle on the parmesan on top. 7. Cover with aluminum foil. Place in the hot water. 8. Bake for 1 hour at 400° F. Uncover for the last 10 minutes.

This week the harvest boxes should have celery, parsley, young onions, salad mix and herbs. If the sun shines until Wednesday we hope for more goodies.