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Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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We were talking about it in the greening desert forum...
The vetiver is a seedless grass, originally from humid soil, that really stands drought when established (very deep roots), and will resist strong rains and running water.
It is used for keeping soil, and keeping nutrients also if you plant it in half circle below your trees.
You can even make terraces because it will grow above the new soil that accumulates slowly.
It can burn and regrows from roots.
It needs full sun.
Very good herb for mulch.

It is supposed to stand some frost, though little.
IMO in needs a warm climate and water to establish easily.
I did some transplant in late autumn, and they grew little though min temp of 10°C/50°F

I could get maybe 20 plants or more from each one that I planted 1 year before. But I still cannot take any from the ones that I planted in a bad dry place, because they do not grow well. So as usual there is a difference between the condition of growing and surviving!!!

If you get some for a start and want to multiply it, then really, plant it in a very good soil and water it! Treat it as a zucchini and you will get a very big plant that you can part in a lot of new ones.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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The reading I've done on vetiver suggests that irrigation is recommended in the year of establishment, especially when working in unfavourable conditions. The root systems can eventually reach 15ft and lets the plant reach deep ground water, but in dry conditions it needs help to get there.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Now I share the way I multiplied it.
1st, do not wait more than 1 year to separate it, because it gets tough, and water the plant well.
this is like a big strong lemon-grass.
On internet, you will find how they pull a big clump with roots (for its essential oil), and they work with a Caterpillar...

- I cut the grass to hand tall, because it does not help to keep the leaves for transplanting.
- Then I dug around and looked for the best place to separate the clump. Try to cut vertically, I have tried many ways and still haven't got the best. The easiest spoil some tillers...
If you try to tear some little tillers around the clump, they might part badly. So, cut big clumps, separate in 2, then each one in 2, and so on until you get small tillers, all with the thick underground part.
- I think it helps to work the clump from the side, by cutting the root under the plant.
You need to keep something that looks like a lemon-grass bulb, that is the part just under soil level. The roots come out of it.
But do not try to keep as much root as possible! On the contrary, cut it and leave less than 1 inch.
Anyway, everything will dry and regrow from the thick underground part.

When it was possible, I left part of the mother plant in place, so that it keeps its deep root and grow again faster this year. But the job is less easy.
I have just transplanted some little clumps that I planted as small cuttings 7 months ago, and they seem to do well in the new place. I transplanted them with their soil around.
But each time I have uprooted and separated the tillers and tried to transplant directly and immediately with as many roots as possible, the plant dries and regrows.
Actually, the ones that I cleaned better, shorter leaves and trimming the roots short, were the ones that did best.

You are supposed to let them dry before planting, and actually, they travel by mail very well.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Now planting...

Of course, you can plant them in a new hole and that's all.

But this plant is good for contour planting and keeping earth from falling, and what's about planting it in a place you cannot water properly?
So I have done vetiver snakes.... In vetiver.org they tell about it, I think it is with plastic between wood pieces that will hold the shape. You can do several in a row.
Plant at one hand width distance for example. Put this in an easy to water place, and let the roots grow for at least 2 months, and then you get the "snake" formed by the roots! Easy to locate and need less watering.

Actually, I got another idea because I had just changed some pipes and was wondering how I could re-use them, and then I have found that someone got the same idea.

So we cut the pipe in its length. We cut this a little larger than necessary, so that it was possible to tight it after planting. This is for making it easier to take of the "pot"! Remove the wires, one person holds the pipe and the other pushes the snake outside.
vetiver726_500.JPG
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Mother plant, pipe planting and direct planting
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The result out of the pipe
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Here are the empty pipes and the newly planted vetiver.
vetiver319_500.JPG
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vetiver320_500.JPG
[Thumbnail for vetiver320_500.JPG]
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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On the next pics you will see better why it was best to do like this than direct planting, and you will see the result I am hoping for...
I used the vetiver in places were stone wall have fallen, and I have a vertical cut I do not want to see falling more.
At one place we put the snake directly, and at the other one we had to put some long wood pieces to hold the earth and be able to water.
vetiver325_500.JPG
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vetiver353_500.JPG
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vetiver354_500.JPG
[Thumbnail for vetiver354_500.JPG]
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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vetiver.org is useful and the reference. The site is just very big (about arguments for convincing about the usefulness of the vetiver) so that I did not find it easy to look for what I needed.

I will get pics of my try to plant directly in bags in a real rocky dry place. Bad result because it was too difficult to water, and winter water proved not to be enough.
 
David Hartley
Posts: 258
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If I ever move to a location that facilitates its growth, you can bet I'll be growing some I researched this plant about a year ago and fell in love. But where I currently reside, the summers are too short and mild, and lack days of sunshine
 
Erich Sysak
Posts: 54
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I made a hedge with it to block in a garden area where the top soil ran off after heavy rain. The hedge worked, but sweet potato covered a part of the hedge and killed off the grass. I trim it for mulch and also use long pieces like string. It might have some effect on insects because the area seems less infested with mosquitoes.


E
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Yes, vetiver cannot stand shade!
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1684
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Xisca,

About the snake in pipe planting:

Does your pipe have any holes in the bottom? Did you just put the rooted cuttings in the tube, then add soil, water and wait for them to get growing, then remove the pipe?

Maybe I should tell you about my situation and you or anyone else with vetiver experience can help me fine tune my plan.

I have plenty of water from April to October. My soil is fine sand with some clay, and no organics. The land has a gradual slope, and my irrigation water comes to the highest point in my property so that I am able to furrow irrigate. I have dug swales at the lowest corner of my property so that I can let the water run down the furrows and arrive at the swales. It takes awhile for the swales to fill, which allows me to run the water down the furrows long enough for water to soak in. Where ever I want deep water, I dig minor swales in the furrows.

I plan to plant the 6 vetiver plants along side a deepened furrow. I'll check that I am getting water at least ~ 30 cm deep to start with, at a similar distance from the furrow, and keep it moist until frost approaches. At that time I will dig up and pot what I hope will be next year's starter plants.

When I look at the snake system, I wonder if what I should do with the rest of this growing season is just concentrate on multiplying plants so that I can start next year with more plants. I don't know how long it takes the plant to establish before it puts on some vigorous growth.

Another idea is to simply put each of the 6 starts into their own separate "5 gallon" pot with really good soil, and get them really big before the cold gets here, then allow them to over winter in the passive solar greenhouse I am so proud of... Then when the soil has warmed in the spring divide them before I put them out.

Any ideas, guidance from experienced vetiver growers?

Thanks

Thekla
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Thanks that's very clear! Yes, concentrate on multiplying plants first.
If you have 6 plants, as I think you do not have enough time before frost, I would pot them as you last say.
Then divide in spring.

You want to add organic matter to your soil, which can then come from roots in the ground. You will dig some tillers and plant them in your green house for the next spring. The remaining roots will die and stay in the ground. Your test will tell more about vetiver growth that cannot stay over a few months into the ground. You will not benefit from the full length of roots in the ground in less than a year. I am almost sure that I do not have a lot of growth because my cool climate does not get very hot often in summer. So you will see what happens in your place through summer...

About pipe planting:
This is good when you want to establish plants in a bad place for watering, or in a very draining place (they have no root when you plant!) and want to develop the root system. I also think it is good for starting indoor before frosts end! I also did it for planting in a steep place (fallen wall) because I did not want to dig there (and loose more soil). This you see on my photos. I just added some earth to hide the roots.

The pipe has no holes in the bottom, but is not closed on the sides. I just put a stone that fits in to keep soil in. And irrigation.
I put first the soil, that is with sand for drainage. Then as the tillers have little roots they are easy to plant (I cut them at 1" as they grow poorly and it is better to favor new growth). The important part is the "bulb".

It is very possible that you can keep "snakes" all winter too. Your plants outside will not have time to grow, and you need to form real green walls with no gaps in the barrier! So you need to plant very close as I did in this try. So you need a lot every year! You cannot just keep 6 plants to overwinter every year! You can keep a pipe full of plants for 6 months, yes, I still have some that are older.

You can use beams and plastic to create these furrows too. With the plastic pipes, as vetiver needs light, I would use them so that you do not keep them at ground level, with trestles or whatever. The problem might be the shade you will create for other plants, and also room, it depends how many meters you want to plant.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1684
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Thanks Xisca,

So, big pots with lots of organics in the potting mix, and just get them as big as I can before frost. I'll see what I get, and next spring see if I can figure out how to divide. I have grown lemon grass in this very way. Outside in the soil for the hot season, harvest, put some aside for next season......

We'll see how it goes!

T
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Xisca

Any follow up on this - how is vetiver working out for you?

I've been reading up and watching more video on this. It looks so good in places where it can thrive. I'm really surprised there isn't more talk about it on here. We see lots of people planning major earth works for swales and ponds, when simple planted hedges look as effective in many cases and cheaper and easier to establish.

great erosion control
natural terrace formation
water retention and greater water infiltration to soil
chop and drop mulch along hedge rows

There are some amazing videos of vetiver systems being employed on massive scales (hundreds of community farms in ethiopia) and effectively recharging ground water so the streams and natural springs run again year round.

We talk about human scale work in permaculture, yet most large scale projects seem to start my massive excavation and earth moving works.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1300
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Mickael, thanks for this "up"!
I have just made some new vetiver snakes last week...

Well, vetiver needs a lot of heat to work properly, and my zone is frost-free BUT not so hot as Ethiopia...
So growth is not so impressive.

Yet, some results:
- My vetiver in bags were drying fast, so my direct sowing died, and I have replaced them by rooted plants.
(I must admit that my watering by hand was irregular....)

- My 2 years vetiver in a steep place full of sand + stones are growing!
And they needed not so much water for their second year, great.
So I have planned to add some more in the same place.

- My snake lines from last year resisted their spare watering, but did not grow much because it was too dry.
We had a little rain and still have heat and sun, so I will see now...

1st conclusions:
- Pre-rooting beore planting is better, be it with the snakes or pots.
- Direct planting of the cuttings needs a good place and water.
(great to develop your big plants for later multiplication with more cuttings)
- Starting the cuttings needs enough watering to be successful.
- Roots seem to infiltrate well into the place were I have stones with sand but also air in between!
- Hot sunny days promote the best growth!
 
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