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John Champagne – Pip Magazine
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John Champagne

Vetiver Grass

Permaculture design works with Bill Mollison’s ‘each element performs many functions’ principle. So when choosing your plants, look for species that can perform multiple functions. Whether it’s in small suburban gardens or on large-scale properties, vetiver grass does exactly that0 Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) is a perennial bunchgrass native to India and Ceylon. It grows up to 1.5 metres in height and shoots from an underground crown, which makes it resistant to frost, fire and heavy grazing. As long as it’s planted in full sun, vetiver will tolerate a broad range of climates from tropical, semi-arid through to temperate zones. And it isn’t particularly picky when it comes to soil quality, either..

Grow Your Own Mulch

Plants such as acacia are best kept to a manageable height that is easily reached and cut back to that length each time it’s harvested. Here, half the growth is cut back; Cut material is then placed underneath the avocado tree. Acacia branches can be cut into smaller pieces which assists in breaking them down more quickly; Comfrey leaves are simply all removed down to ground level; Mulching complete with a 10–15 cm layer under the avocado tree. Pay particular attention to spreading it out just past the drip line.

Pip Brains Trust

Chickens don’t tend to eat used coffee grounds. They hold little nutritional value for them and caffeine is not good for chickens. The chickens will however scratch around in the coffee grounds and may make a dust bath in it. Their scratching will help you spread the coffee around the garden. In the chook run, the mix of coffee grounds, manure, hay and food scraps makes a great base for compost; I rake this all up and put it directly into my compost bays. I love things getting pre-prepared like this as it makes composting easier. Composted coffee grounds give more direct benefit to your garden.

Bioregions: Our Spirit Of Place

A bioregion is a geographic area with boundaries defined by natural features such as catchments, soil types, geographic features or vegetation types. Bioregions create a sense of place; where people can identify with their location; in which people can create some form of community self-reliance, producing and trading within those boundaries.

Permafund

Permafund is the ‘Permaculture International Public Fund’, for tax deductible gifts (donations), run by Permaculture International Limited trading as Permaculture Australia.

Debt-free Housing

Many of the original followers of permaculture left the city and became owner-builders on far-flung blocks of land; creating lives for themselves which were free of debt; allowing them to focus their time and energy on what they felt was important. Land was still cheap up to the late 1990s. Building regulations were minimal and, with help from local LETSystems and keen WWOOFers, many young families built their homes without having to rely on banks for a mortgage.