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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 Dave Riley on February 4, 2018 at 7:56

Much as I try I cannot cut myself on Vetiver. I grow other grasses that are much sharper.

I also trim back dried leaves and at  my entrance way here I ensure that the Vetiver grows directly up rather than any of its branches falling diagonally. I pass through that channel many times each day. On one side the whole Mosaics Club crew passes by each Wednesday -- all ladies -- without consequence. So I must be fulfilling my workplace health and safety protocols OK.

You're not the first to mention this side effect, but I haven't been exposed to it, even while cutting, harvesting and desiccating bare handed.

Maybe the soft skin of a 5 year old will prove me wrong...

Over seas -- in Latin America, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, parts of Africa and Indonesia -- Vetiver is used extensively as an elementary  school garden tool. Children are also using it in bio engineering their school grounds. It is even a syllabus 'thing'.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 4, 2018 at 7:36

Wow, you really have 'hit it off' Dave!

Having managed to cut my fingers by idly brushing past Vetiver, I wonder how it will go as a maze for the children.

I've worked out a way to use it here. Cut it into shortish lengths (a foot, say) leave it to dry and use it instead of bought sugar cane as the dry matter in my compost.

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