This grass grows right well in coastal areas of the the Gulf South. What a
wonderful perfume oil of Vetiver is! If you live where it grows it makes
the sea breezes ever so fragrant in the pre-dawn. While it can take over
quite thoroughly where planted it does not seem to be carried hither and
yon by seed and plant fragments like water hyacinth. Maybe this is good,
though I'm not too sure.
I'm not one to decry the taking over of an ecosystem by foreign invaders.
Maybe vetiver isn't going to do much along these lines, but anyway, this
has been happening since the world began and simply is happening at an
accelerated rate in our times. The California coast, for instance, has
three notable foreign invaders that have become nearly ubiquitous--pampas
from South America, eucalyptus from Australia and anise from Europe. Almost
all that is missing is kudzu from The Orient. Kudzu would clothe the
hillsides, slow down erosion and ameliorate both dry and rainy conditions.
It is the best fodder plant we have in the Southeast, and you never see it
in pastures since it quickly gets grazed to death because it is so
nutritious. California needs it but they are doing everything they can
manage to keep it out. Well, you should see it growing wild in Japan and
should see all the uses that have been found for it over the centuries.
Like pauwlonia it is leguminous and brings up the minerals it needs from
considerable depth, enriching the topsoil. In the off-season it is feasible
to grow potatoes without any inputs except labor where kudzu was long
established. It turns our southeast red clays into German Chocolate cake.
Wonderful stuff to fill the ecological voids with.
I mentioned water hyacinth? The manatee's delight? Boy is this one
invasive! But it cleans up waterways by filtering its nutrients out of the
water, and if dragged ashore in great piles it makes excellent compost and
could be a more important source of fertilizer than the dead alewives that
wash ashore at Chicago beaches every summer. Alewives are another niche
filler, a herring that invaded Lake Michigan several decades back. When I
lived in Chicago in the late 60s the dead of this species littered the
shorelines just crying for processing into organic fertilizer. Actually the
people were doing the crying while the fish catalyzed this process with
their offensive stench.
As a practical matter why isn't there more concern with learning how best
to make use of these vigorous ecological niche fillers? Is there something
wrong with vigor and dominance that I don't understand? I have ancestors
who were Native American. But on my mother's side they were all Swedes. All
my childhood and early twenties my mother (who had 8 kids. I was seventh
and born when she was 44. She lived to 92.) never slept more than 5 hours a
night and was never ill with anything. While I'm justifiably proud to have
American blood, it would be hard to argue that a good part of my vigor
isn't due to my Swedish ancestry. Maybe it isn't the most politically
correct thing to say that Swedes and other Europeans are hyper-vigorous
invaders who overwhelmed the indigenous humans of this continent. People
don't seem to want to think about this. But what's wrong with facing facts?
Let's move on from here, not some idealized version of what was or may have
been or what someone says should have been. Vigor seems to get nature's
vote time and again. It makes me think and re-think, what does it mean to
work with nature rather than against her?
>On 16 Nov 1999, Roberto Verzola wrote:
>> I saw a World Bank publication which was strongly advocating a grass
>> called vetiver for soil erosion control. It supposedly propagates
>> through tills only, not seed and therefore will not spread so easily.
>> I'd like to know if there are bad aspects to vetiver use.
>The Vetiver Network
>THE VETIVER NETWORK PROMOTES THE USE OF VETIVER GRASS
>THE CONSERVATION AND ENGINEERING TOOL FOR THE 21st CENTURY
>The Vetiver Network is a non profit and tax exempt organization,
>managed by professionals, with the objective of disseminating information
>on the use of VETIVER GRASS for soil and water conservation, land
>embankment stabilization and pollution control. We also include other selected
>technologies that we think are important and applicable to related aspects
>natural resources management.
>The Vetiver Network is supported by the The Royal Danish Government,
>The Wallace Genetic Foundation, the World Bank, anomynous UK Trust,
>and vetiver users around the world.
>Lawrence F. London, Jr. Venaura Farm
>/permaculture /intergarden/orgfarm /ecolandtech
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