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Methinks I have discovered a new way to garden (for me): meadow mowing

I just got myself a seriously active brushcutter so I went outback and...

What I may seem to have here is a tabula rasa --  a blank slate-- but you would be mistaken.

What I have here are 'x' number of beds mulched with Vetiver and edged by Vetiver hedges. Maybe you can't see them because they too were cut short.

Methinks I have discovered a new way to garden (for me): meadow mowing

There was a lot of ground cover here -- lots of Scurvy Weed-- so I'm in effect marrying that for better or worse, while I wait for the Vetiver mulch to smother it.

Of course you don't see it through my eyes.

So I'll tell you what I envisage.

As it is, all my beds are hedged with Vetiver -- and some beds are similarly divided into smaller ones surrounding by Vetiver hedging.

So in the 'Vegetables' beds I'm  going to plant vegetables inside the Vetiver hedges.

In the 'Vetiver & Hedges' bed I'll be planting Vetiver among the vegetable plants. Maybe willy nilly.

My aim is to monitor any symbiosis between the edibles and  the V grass and to see how much less water the beds will need.

Maintenance after harvest will be -- you guessed it! -- mowing down the lot.

You can't see it but these beds -- all of them -- are already at least 15 cm higher than the surrounding pathways because of all the mulch I've been throwing at them these last so many years.

While I'm a Vetiver nursery man --it is official -- according to my horticultural peers, I still want to create a sustainable vegetable garden  that employs Vetiver as its major companion plant. And I think, in my mind's eye, I have the ways and means to proceed even more keenly.

So, in that sense, I do indeed have a tabula rasa.  A working hypothesis. Of course, given my penchant for climbers and 'aerials' the garden looks positively empty.  But once I re-string my lines and plant out, the jungle will return complete with a swinging Tarzan.

Indeed, this image below  is a reality check.

To the right is tabula rasa.

On the left, however, is keen jungling behind which is the orchard-in-a-chook-pen.

Untouched by savage hands.

There is a place for everything and everything in its place.

I need to tell you that there was very little forethought in play here. Overcome by  impulse and improvisation these fancies occurred to me while snipping about.

I refused to censor myself ... and the result is as you see.

Tomorrow I let the chooks out to roam the meadow.

Kinda looks like a stage waiting for the show to start.

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Comment by Christa on May 3, 2020 at 8:17

You are an inspiration and I love reading your comments, even if I have to get out the dictionary sometimes (green thumb dilettante), new words to add to my vocabulary of gardening.

What a great idea growing tomatoes and letting them sprawl over the vetiver. With the bug repellent ability of vetiver, we might succeed.

I just ordered some ''you beaut'' tomato seeds that don't wilt, believe it when I see it. 

Dave, could you please remind me where you purchased those hard plastic round seedling trays with hole in bottom. 

Comment by Dave Riley on May 2, 2020 at 23:21

I am pleased with the new outback. So easy to manage and develop routine.

 I may have a few more tricks to pursue, but for now, the garden-as-meadow  is working.

Since we are brining on stock of Vetiver slips to plant out for nurserying, the new tweak is to partner the veges with Vetiver slips rather than rely on hedgerows bordering the beds.

Borders tick many V-boxes, but even in small beds the distance from the vegetable plants is farther than I want to practically design. So, as well as borders, I'm also planting Vetiver in the beds .

For example I have a line of Roma tomatoes that are high enough now to require support ...and what supports them? A Vetiver hedge.

I have a cherry tomato sharing a  pot with a Vetiver clump and the grass supports the tomato. Thats' not only physically as in offering a green trellis, but the rooting munificence  of Vetiver is such that the soil there is enhanced by biology driven by the root mass. Not only as a  hydrological pump -- as in wiking ----  but the microbiology takes off big time while more carbon is sequestered thus enhancing soil water retention.

If I dot these clumps  hither and you throughout the beds I'm really do my veges a great favour.

This video we shot when  we unpotted a Vetiver clump (pictured at right).

Pot bound for sure, but the soil was extremely enriched by the experience of hosting the plant.

Similarly out in the beds. If we later harvest the Vetiver the deep roots stay in place.

The more frequently I drag my sickle-on-a-stick through the mulch layer on the beds, the more vital they seem. The Scurvy Weed just sits there, disallowed from rooting in soil, so it makes a great 'living' mulch among the Vetiver offcuts mulch layer.  I just re-arrange the mulch.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 18, 2020 at 21:17

My tomatoes told me that they saw Rozie talking to the beans.  Boy, did we laugh.  

Comment by Dave Riley on April 18, 2020 at 8:31

The other advantage is that now that I've returned to hand watering I'm much more engaged with EVERY PLANT. My empathy quotient is now huge!

So I'm back being intimate with the veges.

Comment by Dave Riley on April 17, 2020 at 22:58

I'm such a  green thumb dilettante!

Nothing ever is right enough that it cannot be changed or fiddled with.

I may have started with 'a' meadow a few weeks back but now that I'm planting out I'm filling the space with comestibles.

And my thinking has shifted. Gone gardening rad.

With my trusty sickle-on-a-stick (pictured) my maintenance challenges are dealt with as if the tool is a magic wand. With a good covering of cut Vetiver mulch I'm ready for what seeds grow.

A major shift was in the way I watered the garden. Over the drought period I relied on my spear pump but the mineral content of the water pumped up was a tad salty and I sure overdid it.

Now I water long and deep once a week with the water brought up from the aquifer and hand water from the town supply the rest of the time as required.Too much of the mineralised water played havoc with most of my veg, especially tomatoes, so I had a bad Summer's harvest.

Now I'm back on the garden path.

Since we had sold off all of the Vetiver  we could harvest, I'm more or less going to turn the whole space into a Vetiver nursery but grow my vegetables and such among the Vetiver grass clumps rather than simply between the straight line hedges on the bed boundaries.

To do this I have to assume that the Vetiver will wick up moisture from below. While I still use my ladders to climb plants up, allowing plants to ramble over the Vetiver works great too.

I'm talking cheek to jowl stuff: veg plus vet together.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on March 16, 2020 at 6:38

I am pleased you have finally found a solution to that spot as I know it was always a problem for you. It is amazing just how the Vetiver works it's magic. Here's hoping your Tomatoes grow as well for you and reward you with a bumper crop.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 15, 2020 at 22:20

I have become a great supporter of the vetiver.  For the first time in 10 years, the "building site" garden is flourishing.  I was moving some soil was from the swale path today with a small spade.  There are worms there now!  And, not just one or two.  I was uncovering heaps.  So many in fact that a big female water dragon came rushing over to enjoy the feast (scared me stupid but that's another story).  Don't underestimate the holding capacity of the roots and their ability to work like a wicking bed.  Incredible.  I am now planting tomatoes out there. 

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GrowVetiver

Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.


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