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My wife was talking to one of the ladies that come here Wednesdays.

She said to her, "Your husband is over weight. Is that why your garden is so overgrown and messy?'

While a bit rude, this crude perspective  rules the neatness obsessed.

My garden is overgrown because I want it that way. What these types may see as mess, I see health and promise and sustainability.

My wife may get at me for allowing too much growth, but it's not growth so much as fertility.

I do however believe in the right to be lazy. Neatness can sometimes require too much hard work. During weather like this with all the humidity and rain, no normal human being will be able to tame their garden without upping their  chore hours.

I can be patient. I can wait until the clouds part and the rain stops. I can let the grass grow under my feet.

It's true my garden divides people. I do monitor the feedback. This most recent comment indicates how the naysayers think. These anal naysayers.

I may be handicapped by ill health but being lazy equates with sustainability. When working the  patch, dirtiness is good.

At the moment I'm trying to work out what sort of interventions I need to follow. My patch responds to a good whipper snippering so I'm adjusting my layout to suit that tool. The weather is too hot to labour out there in the sun. So I'm adapting to the season via a preference for light duties.

Now that I've finally converted a few beds to Vetiver mulch only,  I'm developing a new gardening culture that's upsetting my mower men who suspect that this Summer may be the last one they can drop off grass clippings. As it is I have a HUGE pile of grass on my verge ready to be transported outback.  When it is wet it is heavier and harder to pick up. So I am in no hurry to invest the labour.

The longer it lays there the smaller will be the pile as it rots down.

Indeed, I like to think of myself as a smart gardener. Why bust a gut, when Mother Nature will do the work for you?  Trim as needed. When needed. But don't overdo it.

I've developed an enclosed system where nothing biodegradable leaves the property. The motor for that is my commitment to mulching and that I treat the chook pen as one big composting bin. I may have grass clipping inputs -- but those have been the motor that has converted my sand box into excellent topsoil.

If people think that neatness means less infestation and disease they haven't experienced  how healthy  a 'wild' garden can be. My primary problem I guess is that I lose sight of plants in the jungle,so that they often  miss being harvested.

I had been irrigating with too much bore water,. While I've cut back my use of the pump supply -- rather than use too much other water -- and run out or be hit with higher utility bills, I'm planting the Vetiver as an ongoing pump pulling moisture from the soils depths. 

Indeed, I'm hoping to make a rain garden where the patch will require far less watering input.

While gravity is all, the key ingredient is adding carbon to the soil so that it holds onto the moisture like a sponge. As it seeps deeper -- rely on the Vetiver to wick it back up again. In that mix is the wonderful micro climate effect I'm generating.

Patience is all. No bare soil. Mulch. Mulch. Mulch.

Indeed, monitoring the massive bushfire  tragedy this Summer has been instructive . Why has so much of Australia been gutted by firestorms? While there is a debate about 'fuel' load' what strikes me as more relevant is the question of moisture. After so much drought and relentless rising temperatures, the landscape  dried to ignition crisp.

Even paddocks heavily grazed and drought effected with hardly any cover  ignited into  flames.

So the challenge is one of how do we keep more moisture in the soil. Across Australia that's THE QUESTION -- but it is also a challenge I'm addressing outback here.

That's a different question from harvesting rainwater using tanks or dams.

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Comment by Dave Riley on May 4, 2020 at 11:52

Just so you know. Commelina cyanea (scurvy weed) has a delicate blue flower and Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis, T. pallida and T. spathacea) has white.

Contrary to what many folk say, they do not look the same as this image makes clear.

Guess which one is Scurvy Weed?

Well, it isn't the one on the right....Notice the leaf separation, lighter coloration, and narrower leaves.

Comment by Dave Riley on May 3, 2020 at 21:05

Supposedly the major mess in my outback is Scurvy weed (Commelina cyanea). As it cools, maybe not as much as during the heat of Summer.But it is not a weed but an Australian native ground cover.

The botanical narrative about the plant (pictured above in an 18th century water colour)  always points out that it isn't the invasive Wandering Jew /Trad.

"Scurvy weed is a very versatile and hardy plant for the home garden; its blue flowers are distinctive and attract native bees. It can be grown in a wide range of conditions, but prefers those similar to its natural habitat (forests), such as half shade to full sun. It likes moisture and prefers heavier moisture-retentive soils. It will regenerate spontaneously from old plant material, such as stems, nodes or seeds and may colonise bare ground quite readily. On occasions, it can become weedy and smother small plants if not watched closely. However, in other cases its appearance in summer is a welcome and colourful addition to the garden." -- SOURCE

I may cut the plant from its roots but when my sickle end separates it from the soil it will survive in the mulch, to which it contributes both bulk and texture.

It is very shallow rooted and I find it hard to accept that it is in gross competition with my veges.It will indeed smother small plants , like seedlings, but a consolidated vegey seedling will rise above the scurvy weed carpet like a tower.

And with scurvy weed running about I need not fear the tenacious roots of runner grasses that are so damaging and difficult to remove.  So I wonder why Commelina cyanea is not celebrated as an ecological gardening plus?

I'm not going to recommend that you plant some --as once planted you'll never get rid of it. But compared to Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis), it has advantages I'm open to exploring and exploiting.

I mean if I'm to garden in my growing beds with vegetables and only Scurvy Weed as a ground cover, I'd think I was blessed.

Any I cut and pick up, the chooks gormandise.

If I rest a bed , Scurvy Weed will cover it quickly in the warmer months. All I then need do is sickle it up before planting out my seedlings.If Scurvy weed gets too close to the stem of a plant I'm growing, it is a simple pull to remove it -- at least what is offered above the soil. But even there I cannot see much happening in way of competition as Scurvy weed has such shallow roots. While it will cover bare ground, it likes nothing better to ramble through the mulches on the beds -- as it would on the bush floor.

With all this modern talk of green mulching I am wondering whether Scurvy weed may indeed be a serious contender offering unrecognised promise.

I've fed it to the chooks. Made weed tea out of it. Cut it and laid it down as mulch. It dries to almost nothing but it seems to survive  just in air.

I used to cut it and rake it up then ferry it to the chook pen or weed tea trough, but now I tend to slice and dice it -- resting it on the mulch surface.

With my trusty Sickle-on-a-Stick (pictured right) weeding Scurvy Weed is so easy to do. Mind you, sickling the beds need to be done more often than I used to actually weed them. But That means I get to turn over and aerate the mulch so that there is less putrid dampness atop the soil.

That means that my mulch -- dried Vetiver grass or lawn clippings -- lasts longer.

So beware that maybe -- maybe! -- one day I'm write here that  you should be growing Scurvy Weed as a living mulch. One day. Not today. It is very weedy afterall...even if it isn't a weed.

Comment by Christa on March 17, 2020 at 15:33

Ignore that one person, Dave.  We messy gardeners finally enjoy our gardens for the right reasons.  We work when we are well and know we have future food sitting there.  It is our exercise and our pleasure, we manage to maintain our gardens.  We are not all well all the time.  Keep up the messy dirty gardening, I envy your garden. 

Comment by Dave Riley on March 4, 2020 at 21:54

It's now less than a month later and I look out back and wonder where the Kitchen Garden went.

The heat and health issues took their toll and I've not planted anything. So there: there is nothing except a few edibles and Scurvy weed.

Fortunately I have a brand new brushcutter and that has whipped and snipped, trying to re-install order. This may be my new management system.

Grow > Harvest > Mow.

Regrettably, I'm talking myself into another gardening  template. Just when I was thinking I was reaching a settlement with the outback biology, I'm now one step forward and two steps  back.

I need a rethink.

If I can quickly intervene over the next few days, I can go to the markets on Sunday and buy up big for seedlings. today I received an envelope with my seed orders so I am prepared for a seasonal plant out. 

Just quietly, folks, it is Autumn....

So the calendar says.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on February 12, 2020 at 20:15

Ignorance is bliss.  I took one look at your yard and it made perfect sense to me - and I've been described as a neatness freak!   Surely it's about how you want to use the space and minimising work?  I kept lawn space - for my little grandkids/dogs to run in.  My raised beds are beautifully straight around the lawn patches - only because it makes mowing the grass easy!  Straight lines might look formal but in my view they are ugly. 

Comment by Sid Saghe on February 12, 2020 at 14:13

Wow that person is a jerk lol

I would say smart, but then I like the same approach. Why prioritise appearances over other more important factors. In the end your garden must be something you can sustainably maintain to your desired design and being stressed over straight lines and low cropped grass seems silly to me.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on February 12, 2020 at 5:50

You certainly make a person Think. Regarding the bush fires, I have been thinking and talking about, why we don't have our Indigenous Folk more involved in the care of our great country. Well now I am so pleased that there is talk of their involvement. It is just a shame that so much of our land had been scared before these talks began.

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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.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

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