Living on fairly steep block, keeping whatever soil I build up can become somewhat difficult. My chickens and the brush turkeys with their infernal scratching to build their massive compost mound nests mean building up a fertile ecology is often a backwards directional project. Once they've scratched and destroyed any living groundcover, the heavy rains wash all soil away leaving me once again with the sadness of the concrete like shale and clay that is my yard.
Weeds to me are simply a human designation for an unwanted plant. They unfortunately also tend to be victims of our vanity (It's not pretty get rid of it!). While some are invasive and detrimental, they all still serve a purpose in an ecosystem. So I've taken to keeping as many weeds as possible in place if it means no bare ground. Now that I have larger branches from prunings I use them as interlocking inhibitors from the birds' scratching destruction, this however isn't enough.
My solution so far is to simply let the 4foot tall guinea / buffalo grass grow. The shallow roots aren't great for erosion but the tall leaves do whipper snip or snap well when trodden on to form a nice mulch. I got the idea from watching some farm rejuvenation permaculturists using large roller crimpers to do No-Till mulching with their cover crops and sow seed straight over it.
The tall Buffalo Grass weed grows prolifically in my yard. This swathe is between my back shed and jaboticaba & fig trees.
The same grass after a couple of minutes stomping to break the stems and flatten it. This creates a mulched pathway. The chickens will eat the fresh softer leaf tips and seed heads. The photo below is four days after. The stems never pop up but the rootball will eventually send up new leaves.
I searched for long term solutions and saw Vetiver Grass many years ago but the articles I read weren't formulated very well so I unenthusiastically moved on. Since then sporadic crops of cow pea, pigeon pea and clover have not taken me past the tipping point of sufficient green chop and drop material.
It would seem between the AgroForestry and land rejuvenation groups I interact with and our resident BLF Vetiver pusher/dealer/aficionado Dave Riley, my interest has been piqued once again. After a better revisit to more detailed articles from Vetiver Network International Members and seeing the root systems as well as its water purifying capability, I am now very convinced that it could be the solution to a number of my hillside issues.
The photo below gives an indication of the gradient of my back yard looking up towards the house.
(The raised wicking garden beds on the right are 600mm high for perspective)
At some point my log & pallet 'tree assistant' pads will give way to natural decay and I'm hoping Vetiver will keep the soil in place and act as a living retaining wall so the fruit tree roots aren't exposed by the half metre of soil on the downhill side eroding away.
So my next step is think about where and how I want to plant it, then contact Dave and see if I can join his exclusive Vetiver Providore client list !
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