Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I'm so darn empirical that I suffer from the green thumb fidgets.

I now and then ask myself,"Why don't you leave well enough alone?"

But, you know, if you don't potter about the garden -- grabbing any excuse --you may as well be dead...

As well as making over the front yard with copious plantings of creepers, aloes, kangaroo paw, vetiver, flowering bulbs,grevilleas and such, -- I've been madly planting out vetiver grass hither and yon outback.

You see I've embraced a passionate vetiver learning curve.

Have plant ... will plant.

With the frangipanis actually growing higher and beginning to keenly bloom I find the convergence of green stuff amazing. Humbling.

Since I've finally located an outback office (pictured) I get to meditate on the greening while I fiddle with my furnishings. Best way to create a shady nook is to move in to the nookery, sit down, watch the sun arc above you and consider your creative options.

In the mix I had to create yet another pond and plant vetiver with shade making in mind.

I'm so darn  empirical that I suffer from the green thumb fidgets. A suggests B suggests C....

And so, sitting down on my chair -- recycled  from the local tip -- under our Silky Oak --and the passion fruit vine above me wafts in the cooling wind, I dream about this space in a month's or 3 month's or a year's time.

It is my on-site office.

From there, yet again, I find new poseys to plant vetiver. I guess I have planted out close to 40 rooted cuttings.I think it is a godsend plant for sandy soils...and one can not have too many vetiver hedges if one lives on the seaside.

Similarly, I have been so taken with the utility of this plant Canavalia Rosea/ Canavalia Maritima/Jack bean -- that i bought a few like  it, Wallum creepers., from the Bribie Community Nursery .$2 each.

Who, by the way, regrets that folk are not purchasing and growing Wallum plants as Wallum preservation was their raison d'etre. So the nursery has given more space over to exotics. Tragic.

Already we grow a large range of native plants. Because they grow here. The birds thank us.  From dawn it is on for young and old in a squawking way, and we really do live in an aviary day in day out.

On top of that are the succulents which thrive in similar conditions...and bromeliads, of course.

Let's not mention the number of Dragon Fruit cuttings I have planted out. Let's say that the eastern side of the house is now a Dragon  and Passion Fruit breeze way. Cools the north eastery breeze down as it blows onto the back veranda where we have our sessions of mosaic and dance.

When the vetiver grow to their 1.5 metre height the back space will be maze like. Grass walls this way and that.I won't have to wait long.

If I was starting out again I'd plant out vetiver first and make that the garden template. But, I guess, I'm stuck in this improvisational rigmarole of possibilities.

One helluva adventure.

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Comment by Dave Riley on December 10, 2016 at 1:49

I spent time today harvesting more vetiver for potting up. The more root stock you have, the more hedges you can grow and the closer you can plant them together.
You can never have too much of this grass.
This weather my plants are powering away.
Like bamboo it grows fast but unlike bamboo it won't get away from you.
If you have 'a' clump of vetiver I've found that taking rooted or stem cuttings is easy:(a) so long as you soak any large  clump in water -- such as after heavy rain; and (b) expose one side of the clump by shearing off an access edge such as with a mattock or axe.
The new growth stems are easier to harvest than old woody growth so you want to break the clump's containment and once in, pull up the stems one by one. Undermining the root ball with spades or forks is a waste of time and energy...as well as being seriously dangerous to your health!
The stems will usually separate from the  root mass with a few roots still in tact.
Pot'em up: Voila!

Think Lemongrass -- a distant cousin of vetiver.
If you want to keenly start using vetiver outback you really need to grow the numbers.So if you start with one plant, deploy it as  mother stock you keep dividing.
I could divide my original plant slips after a year in the soil.
And now...the extended family is very numerous.
Once planted out the success rate is assuring. In my case, in the early stages of my adventure , I got maybe 8 out of ten slips to take just by planting them directly into the garden.
Now my protocol has improved and I'm running a keen vetiver nursery. Two to three weeks during this weather and the slips I harvested today will be ready for planting. Preference: 2-3 stems leaves of new growth.

So in the New Year I should have plenty of slips for sharing.

Depending on why you are growing the grass, you don't have to allow it to grow to its full height.  If hedging, the height can be customized and the shape can be topiary-ied.

Among the projects I'm pursuing and   have in mind:

  1. making a vetiver wall around the big green pile of composting cuttings and pulled weeds at the school garden.
  2. shoring up the perimeter of the chook pen as a hedgerow wall. In built advantage: rodents don't like vetiver.
  3. Shading. Wind breaking. Filling empty spaces.Adding texture and contrast to garden landscaping.Defining the perimeter along pathways.Serving as  garden borders.
  4. supplying heaps of mulch: see below, vetiver mulch under cabbages.

Comment by Dave Riley on December 8, 2016 at 23:52

Inspiration time : Vetiver used as garden borders in Thailand.

Comment by Dave Riley on December 8, 2016 at 23:43

And so it goes...

I've potted up Vetiver numbers enough to spook even myself. Hither and yon I conspire to soon plant them out opportunistically.

'There! There's a spot!!' is my ongoing monologue as I impatiently wait for the green stems to shoot.

I'm following the management protocol outlined is this amazing video :

The Vietnamese are great researchers and users of Vetiver -- originally a Sri Lankan native.

I'm convinced the plant has a community protection role here among the sandiness,and I'd love to encourage a local growing project.

As it is now I must have over 50 planted out. [ I've also squeezed in a few more Pigeon Pea bushes.]

If I can get the numbers up I want to plant along the shoreline (of Deception/Moreton Bay). A friend has a property -- like many  others do too -- prone to inundation and erosion from storms, tides and tidal surges.

Householders use a few species to hold the shore in place but there is no consensus as to utility.

I'll also plant a hedge at the school garden as a showcase for fams.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on December 8, 2016 at 23:13

Sorry mate, I missed this post.  I suspect it never ends - well, I hope not anyway.  

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 1, 2016 at 11:01

Apart from Vetiver being shorter than most trees and less likely to be blown over, the fabulous fibrous root system is where grasses shine. Nothing like a mass of fine fibrous tough roots to hold onto the soil or sand.

Comment by Dave Riley on December 1, 2016 at 10:47

The standard text on Vetiver can be read HERE. Also downloadable as free pdf.

I'm keen to spread the message locally here as the shoreline is threatened so much by tidal surge.More generally I think it may be very useful against flash flooding.

I've been reviewing projects along the Vietnamese coast and the plant is amazingly successful protecting fishing communities from tides and waves. So much of the coastline there is sand dunes.

Good summary HERE.

All my own plantings are experiments but I'm gonna ask a friend who lives on the shoreline if she's interested in planting a hedge to stop her subsidence. Here the only other option is VERY expensive sea walls, groins and the like. So folk use a real mix of junk to hold the shore line; and many trees planted soon enough fall into the sea.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 1, 2016 at 8:32

The wonderful thing is the amount of plant life you have thriving in a relatively small space. Close planting is the 'go'.

Vetiver is an amazing plant, tough as ... thanks to the article you cited, I now know what to look for when making more Vetiver plants. Whoda thunk? And here am I, the former Botany student ...

Laying out a garden to suit ones needs is a skill beyond my understanding. I always start out with grand intentions then find this doesn't work or that's in too much shade. I had a clean slate here 14 years ago. The previous owners had a green-waste collection and wondered if I wanted to guy to call. Sheesh. Apart from a few spindly shrubs, the place was ready for gardens. We'd never heard of wicking beds for starters. Anyway ... there has been several incarnations of the garden space ever since. Twenty-20 hindsight.

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