Vetiver grass

We’ve just taken delivery of 100 slips of vetiver grass – sounds a lot, but this is a trial … we actually need around 1,500 plants! Oh and you might notice the almonds in the background that we’ve just harvested!

Vetiver is used to stop soil erosion and stabilise the land. Our terrace slopes are a bit the worse for wear, and so it makes sense to get everything shored up and stable before we move on with the food forest master plan. Taking shortcuts just isn’t the permaculture way …

It will grow to about 1.5 meters tall, but the important thing about vetiver is the root system – the roots will grow to 3-4 meters, and this is what stabilises the land. Vetiver also removes contaminants, improves soil and moisture conservation, and when we trim the grass, it can be used as animal fodder. It also smells lovely and is a natural insecticide. Wow!

If this works and we go ahead next spring and order the rest it will be a considerable investment, but is the right thing to do long term – we don’t want to plant fruit bushes to see them slide away and die! The cost works out at about €1,50 per slip but we have already negotiated a 50% discount for the spring order. It is possible to get it cheaper, but they tend to be less established – fewer stems per slip and smaller roots. So hopefully by buying better quality plants we will have fewer plants that fail – but then, this is what the trial is all about! We might order a few of the cheap ones we found to do a direct comparison!

Planting them won’t be a quick job – getting up the sloping banks is quite alarming, as is trying to stay up there! We’ll be planting about 20cm apart and you plant them like rows of soldiers. If the slopes weren’t quite as bad we could plant 30cm apart.

So – we need to move the remaining IBC’s in the picture (2 down, 6 to go) before we start planting – a busy few days coming up! I’ll post a picture once they’re in!

And just to make it fun, the weather has ‘turned’ – massive storm last night and we’re due some more over the next few days – time for the wellies to come out!

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