Tag Archives: Donegal


If you’ve been here before, you know my field is in Donegal where, I recently discovered, it rains about 1,600 to 1,800 mm a year. That means, without drainage, my land would be covered 4 or 5 feet deep, except for the fact that I am the proud owner of a fine sloping field, (up to 20% in spots) and the rain runs off, but the ground gets bloody wet too!!

Permaculture videos and books and talks all seem to spend lots of time on swales, hence Patrick Whitefield refers to them as something of a ‘Holy Cow’.


But in our wet climate in NW Ireland, they’re hardly appropriate. However, how much is enough, when it comes to water? If I put in drains, the water runs away. If I put in swales, too much water hangs around. How do I decide? I can imagine a high pond, catching run-off from the road and from my house and the cement drive opposite,  with an overflow arrangement into a lower pond perhaps, but is 2 ponds too much in 2/3rds of an acre (circa 2600 sq. metres)?

Problems, problems. Any suggestions, anyone?

While I have a problem, it’s good to have it discussed online. I’d appreciate any help I can get. Tll next time. Byeee.

Oh yeah, any suggestions for the best PDC around these islands? R

see Book Review “How to Makea Forest Garden” by PW


How do you develop a Field into a food Forest when you are continually NOT going there?

First my wife had a fall now a family member is ill, so despite all my hopes for progress over this long May weekend … it hasn’t happened. However, since my last post, I have been up to Donegal and I have taken a load of measurements. I drew the roughest of sketch maps and began slowly to measure and annotate the map. 


I saw a tip in the book by Aranya, referenced in a previous post, whereby I tied knots, every 5 metres, along a long piece of white washing line (string would do). Then a pocket tape was used for the final metre or two. It’s not exact, but I don’t really need exact, do I? It’s brilliant and saves a lot of walking to and fro. A student friend has my unlovely rough work and is attempting the difficult task of transferring it to a CAD drawing. As soon as I have his draft, I’ll scan both and let you see what I’ve done.

You pick out points around the property and triangulate from those points, so that when you have a long distance to measure, you break that into smaller points and measure triangles. If you know the length of the 3 sides, your shape will be perfect as long as you stick to scale. If there are no convenient landmarks to measure from, create your own with a stake here and a pipe there and a rock someplace else. It works really well.

Another apology though, again I went without my camera. Sorry. I WILL get photos and show how I used the line and the tape. Very effective, as long as you’re careful in your counting. You also discover, as I did, that what looks like a rectangular field, is definitely not. so, again, with little real progress to show, I catch you next time.