Author Topic: Jacks Swale workshop?  (Read 3998 times)

Offline kangaroojoe

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Jacks Swale workshop?
« on: May 25, 2013, 07:28:43 PM »
Any info or videos from Jacks workshop this weekend?  I'd imagine some of the attendees either blog or have a youtube channel.  Anyways, just was wondering if anyone had updates or info as to the workshop.  The earthworks interest me a lot... and i'm still conjuring up ideas for my own place :)

Offline CharlesH

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2013, 05:52:38 AM »
I, too, hope it went well and am eager to hear a review.  I'm not sure my financial situation will ever permit me to travel from Michigan to Texas for one of his workshops, but its fun to live vicariously through those of you who do! :)

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2013, 07:17:50 AM »
Jack will be setting up a repository for all the attendees to post photos and videos from the event.  Stay tuned, it may take a few days to do this.  Jack will certainly need a day or two to relax and unwind (Monday is a holiday anyway) so look for more info from him on Tuesday.

One word... It was absolutely awesome.  (okay, yeah that was 4 words.)

There was synergy and a common bond in the group that far exceeded woody beds.  Jack is great at explaining things, and covered a multitude of things.  Lots of Q&A time.

Most folks that attended have some sort of permaculture process in the works, or are planning to start one.  There were other VERY knowledgeable interns on hand to assist Jack in providing one-on-one opportunities to discuss personal projects. 

But, in addition to all of this, I would say that the opportunity to network with each other was worth the cost alone.  Each attendee had some specific talent, project, or ability that they were able to share with others during the free times (there was little sleep happening at night). 

Woody bed course?  Oh, it ended up being a whole lot bigger learning opportunity.  I learned about aquaponics from someone that runs one, rabbits from someone that raises them, etc...   even about Sugar Gliders! (gotta look that one up!)  The list is endless.  People brought plants and things to share, seeds...  more than just "knowledge" and "doing" going back in the car.

So what are Jack and Dorothy like?  Great folks.  Sincere, down to earth, giving, caring, fun.

Bottom line, I'd do it again in a heartbeat!  (And I will. This girl's excited!)

~TG

Offline CharlesH

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2013, 07:05:30 PM »
Thanks for the report TG, that's about what I expected to hear.  I'm jealous of you!  Sounds like a great weekend.  Maybe I'll get the wife to let me go sometime.  Charles

Offline kangaroojoe

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2013, 11:47:55 PM »
Thanks for the report.  Can't wait to see some pics.  Glad the weather held with everything thats been going on.  BTW, Sugar Gliders are awesome... had one when I was in college and she was really cool.... BUT their nocternal nature can be trying when your trying to sleep :o

Offline keepitreal

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 10:49:55 AM »
I regret that I was unable to attend the workshop.
Can somebody who attended the workshop tell me what your biggest take-aways were?
Also will there be another workshop in the future?

Offline gtex

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 06:48:24 PM »
I attended the workshop, it was a good time. Lots of fun.

As far as takeaways go, I have a few:
First and foremost: The TSP community rocks. Real people working on making their lives resilient. Good people, all of whom I'd be happy to call friends.

As far as the beds themselves go:
-These weren't swales- just contour gardening. Swales are a much different critter.
-Make the beds as wide as you are comfortable reaching. There's no set standard, it's what works for you.
-Make sure the paths between the beds are level (to allow the water they will trap to soak in evenly) and heavily mulched.
-Make sure the paths between the beds are big enough to get whatever equipment you want through, whether that's a lawn tractor and trailer or just a wheelbarrow. We used a garden tiller to break up the soil between the beds in order to level it out.
-Stagger the "sills" or gaps between the beds so you force any water flowing through to slow down and soak in.
-We built both mulched an unmulched beds. It is my guess that the mulched beds will use much less water, but they don't have the biodiversity of the unmulched beds that were covered with mixed seeds. Jack had a half dozen or so varieties of seeds he spread over the un-mulched beds.

About the earthworks:
-Having good tools helps. In particular, the laser level saved enough time by itself to make renting or owning one worth it if you're going to do this sort of thing on your place. Its benefits will get bigger the larger your place is and the more land contour variance you have.
-The wood in the beds soaks up nitrogen for later use but denies it to your plants while the wood is breaking down. This can be compensated for by using a quality organic fertilizer. In Jack's case, we used bloodmeal from the local Home Depot. There are much, much cheaper (when measured by the pound) sources of bloodmeal and other organic supplements online- just Google it.
-Polyculture works. We tossed on seed mixes of all sorts and got to see the results on the first beds Jack made. His beds were THRIVING even after the hailstorm a week or so before the workshop.
-Especially in Texas, these beds reduce but do not eliminate the need for irrigation, at least for the first couple years. Jack said to expect the irrigation requirements to go down with each year as the wood core breaks down and becomes "spongy." I'm sure deadfall trees would make this process faster.

Hope this helps. I'll be happy to answer more questions if you like.



Jack, teaching at the start of the workshop


First "trench" dug for the first bed, filled with wood.


Bed covered with native soil and improved topsoil. Group starting to plant.


All beds finished.


Jack's first beds showing polyculture. There are apple trees and blueberries on the crest of this bed.


-gtex

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2013, 11:58:15 AM »
Great photos. My sloped land has more challenges :)
"the laser level saved enough time by itself to make renting or owning one worth it"
So how much do one of these cost?

Offline gtex

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 02:29:36 PM »
Good question. I didn't check carefully, but the week after the workshop I saw prices for new units between $500 and $1500. I'm sure used units can be found for less.

-gtex

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Jacks Swale workshop?
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2013, 02:50:28 PM »
Wow, have seen some "laser levels" at Lowes for $80. Wonder if they would work over a fair distance.