Photo credit: Permaculture News
The ancient Inca also utilised contour patterning in their agriculture
Contour Beds Peru
by Adam Woodman
Contour beds are annual and/or perennial vegetable garden beds that conform to the natural pattern of the landscape. Being on contour means that the paths and beds themselves are level and follow the lay of the land. Not only does this create an attractive pattern on the landscape this technique more importantly allows us to slow, spread, and sink water into our garden beds in a similar way that swales do. This orientation also prevents erosion due to the pacifying of any surface runoff.
To create contour beds one must be able to accurately measure and peg out the contours. This can be done by a number of ways; using a laser level, a water (bunyip) level or an ‘A-frame’. Not having access to a laser level we built an A-frame out of some scrap wood and wire.
Creating contour beds
Begin digging along the contour creating a path and mounding the soil on the lower side making the bed. Create the beds at a height of 30cm and 120-140cm in width. This width allows for one to reach the middle of the bed by without standing on the bed itself compacting the soil. The paths between the beds should be large enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow (40-60cm) for harvesting and composting, and can be dug out slightly to a depth of 20-30cm. The removed soil is used on the bed and paths filled with woodchips, sawdust or gravel. Woodchips will slowly breakdown and can later be used as compost. Water will always find level, thus for precise levelling flood the paths with water and correct their level using a shovel.
Read the full article: Permaculture News