Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Vetiver and I have finally decided to get engaged so that we are retrofitting our family home together. Over the past two years we have grown closer to one another so that a day seldom goes by when we aren't interacting with one another... in an horticultural sense of course.
I've come to know Vetiver's ways and have learnt to appreciate the plant even more. In that embrace I can imagine the grass' potential.
At present I have three projects in mind:

  • Redesigning my kitchen garden around Vetiver hedges.
  • Keenly adding Vetiver to the school garden both as a model for its utility and as a source of mulch. Also I'm using Vetiver to create a maze for the children.
  • Exploring the possibility to bio-enegineer with Vetiver to protect the coast here against storm tide in a partnership between the community and a local Vetiver consultancy.

A good example of what I have in mind

Example of Vetiver hedges from Thailand.

So we're serious. An 'item'. Vetiver Dave.
For now,inasmuch as the weather allows me, I'm laying out a section of my own veg garden by planting out a succession of Vetiver hedges to delineate a series of parallel plots.
These are approximately 1.7 metres wide and maybe 3 metres long. Since Vetiver grows to around 1.5-1.7 metres in a season, I'm trying to harvest shade as well as on-hand mulch.
And when you cut Vetiver for mulch you increase the amount of sun the bed receives.
So I'm exploring a seasonal axis.
There's also some useful research about Vetiver as a localised biotic pump. This aspect suggests to me that I don't want to make the beds too wide.
Thus my obsession with size.
But should I run them east/west or north/south...? As a pragmatist I reckon I can do both -- and for now run the plots east/west in the section I'm retrofitting -- and next time lay the beds north/south if i so decide.

One thing I discovered while redesigning this section of garden is that you really do need Vetiver hedges --closely planted and dense -- to sustain your mulch needs.(*) The logic of growing Vetiver as plot borders is superb. Talk about cut and drop!

What I'm also interested in the V's root depth as the leaves are just the tip of the botanical  iceberg.Maybe 2 metres straight down -- so that, in my mind's eye, I see the section of soil bordered by Vetiver hedges as a 'raised' bed engineered by V's roots -- just as the stems themselves hold the bed in place above  ground. While the roots go straight down,sucking up desirables, the height of the plant above is easily adjusted by cutting it. Meanwhile  the plant sponsors some keen push/pull microbial and insect happenings.

Today, ever clump I uprooted for division was alive with active earth worms entwined among the roots.

Talk about Win/Win!

No wonder we're so much in love.... in an horticultural sense of course. 

Anyone seeking 'background' should peruse my earlier post and its extensive discussion:

Vetiver Ventures (Part 1)

Note:

* Despite the number of Vetiver clumps I'd planted out over the last 12 months (just under 100)  my estimation fell far short of what are now my needs.Indeed my improvised plantings had no structure and limited rationale  as I planted slips in various positions around the yard  without much forethought and with an air of experimentation. 

Hedges rule so always plant the root stock close together as though you are actually bioengineering with it.  That's a fist width apart -- give or take a few cms. You can more easily monitor and tend hedges rather than single separated clumps in the landscape.

At around 10-15 cm apart, that's 6-9 plants per metre,

There are four other lessons that are also relevant to starting out with V:

  • Try to keep your plantings in as much sun as you can  as Vetiver's growth slows  with shade.
  • Always keep water up to the transplanted slips for at least 2 weeks after they have been planted out.
  • Try to separate your clump  so that you get to plant slips made up of 2-3 tillers. Better success rate that way -- and faster growth.
  • For transplant stock, divide your clumps when they have 8-12 tillers. Any more and it becomes much harder  to uproot the plant. At 30, say, you need to do some strenuous digging if you want to  harvest  rooted slips. In my soil, I can usually uproot a whole clump just by pulling it up  -- no digging! --so long as it is no more than 10 tillers. At best I'll get 5 new plants from a 10 tiller clump. (But those 5 can produce 25 more plants...and so on).

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Comment by Christa on Tuesday

Thanks Evan, I have listened to that frog music so many times, it is bush music.  The vetiver looks great too.  No frogs in our suburb despite having a couple of small ponds.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on Tuesday

Wow - what a wonderful cacophony! We've heard the big Greens en masse from dusk to about midnight-2am then the Gracefuls and a few Striped Marsh. For a small pond in suburbia it's quite satisfying. I love going to sleep to the sound of frogs.

Comment by Evan on Tuesday

All good.

Meanwhile,

Frogs enjoying the rain, and the Vetiver - https://u.teknik.io/b9VRK.webm

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on Tuesday

I had not seen those pix before and found it useful to see what was being discussed. I don't get what was 'too much'. I understood your post and was saying 'thank you' for clarifying. 

Comment by Evan on Tuesday

Sometimes, Elaine, when writing posts one answers questions for other readers who may be wondering the same thing so they can learn from it. I'm sorry if me filling out the post was too much. :)

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on Monday

Yes, Evan - I get the picture ;-)

Comment by Evan on Monday

Elaine,

Sure you can mature nodes on plants to propagate but it means you have to either cut them from hedges or dig up older plants. And then they require a bit more care to get to root whereas the simpler division yields instant plants. Tissue culture is the only viable way to get a lot of plants but requires know-how, a lab, and a big nursery.

I used to propagate in pots but they transpire and grow so quickly the extra effort seemed not worth it when you can just pop them in the ground somewhere and dig them up later. Plus coming up with potting medium is a chore. One tip for pots is don't put one in the centre, put 3 out to the edges (triangle shape) so they use all the surface of the potting mix.

Comment by Evan on Monday

These plants are 12 months old. I may dig up some into Summer. They really start tillering after 12 months so I'm hoping to at least get high 20s and 30s for slip count. They have been inundated most of last year and now again obviously so they slow down a bit.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on Monday

Perhaps if you are doing a lot of V propagating, how about growing a few plants in big pots making the plants much easier to uproot for dividing. I have yet to try using the nodes as baby plants although I read about that *somewhere*, no one has so far remarked on that system so I take it that it's not as useful as using already-rooted small plants.

Comment by Evan on Monday
I only slice and dice on the big ones. 12-24 months I can pull apart with hands (smashing on ground loosens them), then feet for older, then shovel for woody crowns.

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