Monday, May 5, 2008

Ahhh Vetiver!!! Exciting Exciting Stuff!!!

The long story made short is...there are some spots on our property (and probably everyone elses') that are eroding. When it rains it really rains and the water will make gullies. Doesn't help that people weedwack to the ground and remove all vegetation (leaves etc). We have seen many a trench made that focuses the water making it into an erosion machine! The house has been here for 30 years. Nothing endangering anything or anyone but why have erosion if you can stop it? And the answer to the problem is Vetiver Grass! Here is a clump of this miracle grass with its root ball. I had read about it and seen photos, but we were lucky enough to know people who have real live vetiver in place along a driveway with a steep slope running alongside. It is beautiful stuff! This mass is "topped" - we cut off about half of the blades so separating and planting would be easier. I also cut off half the roots.

Using a machete (or course) I separated individual blades to prepare for planting. I got around 140 blades from this clump.
Here is my bucket full of this wonderfully aromatic hedge grass! The excitement mounts! I got a couple buckets worth out of the clump.

Here's one location warranting the use of vetiver - this gully (which is natural and comes from the top of the property). When the wet season gets here I am sure this is a water feature. There are large rocks and a fence that is crossing the gully in-the-air because the small crossing probably has been getting bigger each year. The gully is 6-8 feet deep - the deepest part is after the troll bridge. This first view is from in the gully looking up at the little line of vetiver. This line of vetiver will prevent the soil from collapsing further into the abyss.

Here is a better view from the line of vetiver itself. This thin line will make a clump about 2 feet wide and 2-3 feet tall. The roots of this grass can be 30 feet!!! (the clump we got was taken from rock basically and the roots were still well established) They are using it in many countries to prevent erosion - it prevents 70% of erosion and 90% of sediment runoff! It absorbs pollutants and is being used to reclaim mining areas. It absorbs lead! If you need another reason to love is really a nice looking ornamental plant with a pleasant scent and from what I saw of a real live 20 foot run of it it doesn't die out in the middle, look "ratty" like a lot of grasses and it is sterile (won't spread by seeding). I think it has a nicer look than boxwood or lavender. Pruning it every few months encourages new shoots.
Here is the fence-in-the-air. A nice chunk of soil has dropped off to the other side. My line of vetiver should stop that!

So what is the "down" side to vetiver? None that I can see. It is sterile. Non-invasive (the real live person we got it from has watched it in her yard for 3 years - thank you Racquel and Ray).

More information can be found at and many other places. On the site make sure you scroll down to the picture gallery...think the first one is the award winning one. I will post occasional updates on our vetiver plantings. I already have a new thought for the area outside our kitchen door. It is an 85 degree slope that little by little washes down. I was going to build a little 2 block high wall, then decided on landscape blocks so I could do curves (nothing I hate more that everything lined up along property lines or house edges etc). Now I have decided to grow a curving vetiver "living" mini wall to hold back the dirt and provide a little kitchen garden. I just have to get my vetiver factory growing so I have clumps to divide and move around!


Vicious Summer said...

How is Chicken Little feeling now? Cheech got his huevos chopped on Monday and he was so scared when we picked him up, although he was back to his old mischief within 24 hours...Cheech and Chicken look so similar, I would bet money on them being cousins ;). Small island!

Anonymous said...

Chicken is great - we kept him in the first night and then out he went. He was kind of in resting mode for the next day and then it was all about playing! The surgery looks a little different than our other guys - Chicken has a smiley face - two slits on the sacks as eyes and a little fold below. Where did you go and what did it cost? We were surprised it was comparable to US prices. Rabies, all the respiratory shots, a dewormer, neutering for $113. We'd like to spay the girl kitties that hang out (three of them, one pregnant already) but we can't pick them up and it is pricey. Have to do it over time. Chicken is now VERY happy to sleep inside and travel around with me during the day. He had a talk with our monster and now Dakota actually goes out with Chicken (still supervised) and makes no effort to fight with the others. He is one of the gang! We caught them together on the bed! We love him. Everything here just gets along. katrina

Don said...

Good to see that you two have discovered vetiver grass. I have been using it around the Pacific and SE Asia for many years and it is truly great stuff. A couple of points though - it doesn't establish well in the shade and the plants should be closer than you have put them if you really want to trap sediment. Give them plenty of sunshine when you first plant them and they will grow a lot faster.

Good luck with your efforts.