Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

After harvesting the Vetiver hedges for mulch, I approached a level of neatness and order that I, for one, am not used to.

It may not be topiary but the plan is to take the trimmed hedges to a height that will keep the chooks off the beds when they free range.

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Comment by Dave Riley on July 12, 2019 at 8:46

You may ask why?

Well here's a borrowed image of an experiment in Vietnam (Tho Ngo)  that tells its own story about Vetiver symbiosis:

Comment by Dave Riley on February 22, 2019 at 19:13

Dick Grimshaw has summarized recent research on the utility and management of Vetiver hedges:

"The primary purpose of VGH is for soil and water conservation, secondary uses include pest control, forage, thatch, handicrafts, waste water clean up, biomass and more."

The article can be read HERE.

As I tweak my own hedges I am appreciating  their advantages even more. This image from Dick's article tells us a lot:

My POV is that we all should grow Vetiver -- if only as a  mulch resource. Even one clump (just 'one plant') --cut frequently -- is sure to be useful. Whether you take the hedge route is up to you. Division is an option of the one you start with.

Here is a photo of the school garden maze which I last cut just after Christmas. There was consequently  a lot of mulch available  for the beds over Summer. On returning to school the children loved the inspiring growth --and we still haven't reached full plant height yet!

[They are measuring its height & growth.]

I want to really lose them in the grass. I tell them it's a great place to wag school.

Comment by Dave Riley on December 16, 2018 at 22:46

The beds are 1.5 metres wide on average. As an experiment I hope to grow tomato and/or cucumbers over and along  the hedges. Furthermore, with rambling squashes I'm interested in containing each plant inside  a bed within these green walls.

Not there yet, but each bed is designed to be thickly mulched from grass cut from the hedges that surround it.

It also warrants pointing out that with Vetiver as mulch, walking on the beds is no drama as the cut grass makes a thick, springy basket mesh.

There are a few gaps in the hedgerows that need planting and filling in. The main reason being that I want to run the chooks free range but keep them off the beds. That means that the trimmed height of these hedges will need to rise higher than shown here.

These small plots seemed like a manageable size when I laid them out -- for mulch resource, containment and impact on soil quality and moisture content. I also wanted to harness the beneficial mycorrhiza fungi hosted in its roots.

I'm also interested in any reduction of insect or fungal damage to vegetables  with the Vetiver. Vetiver oil also repels flies and cockroaches and snakes or rodents don't like the plant's leaves.

In the refit, I've dedicated an area for a Vetiver nursery.

This week I stopped all lawn clippings drop off to my verge.

Thus ends an era. I expect the soil biology to change as a consequence. In future, I'll simply cut and drop...

Comment by Christa on December 16, 2018 at 13:28

Looking good Dave, I can see fresh cut vetiver and also past Vetiver cut mulch.  It appears to last for a while too, mine has been laid in a row as well as mishmash. It appears to let the rainwater through as well, compared to sugar cane which can form a carpet like mat.  

My vetiver had been moved to stop the inundation of rainwater from the block next door. The neighbour changed the natural fall of the land and all the rainwater ran under our house.  Hopefully we have fixed this with vetiver. 

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