Published in Eumundi Green Issue 188

Life on a Better Ridge Using Vetiver

With the children back at school and the New Year now in full swing, we can once again turn our attention to jobs other than building sandpits and balance beams. No longer do we have the blissful excuse of a trip to the river or a lazy day chasing the breeze with the company of a good book. With the heat still beating down and the big rains just hinting at their imminence, there is much to be done to make the most of what our Queensland summers bring.

In the eternal quest to use what we grow; the vetiver grass clumps are once again being harvested, and the many lemongrasses are having their quarterly haircuts. Some of these fibres have been ‘chopped and dropped’ as mulch while much of it has been painstakingly bundled and prepared for basket making and thatching.

The grass clumps that seem to be outgrowing their positions are dug out and separated and have been planted as individual stalks around the uphill side of the garden beds. This will slow down the inevitable watershed that comes with a month’s worth of rain that falls in a torrential, deafening afternoon around these parts, and forms a protective barrier around the more fragile plants within the beds. As they (very rapidly) grow, their roots multiply, spread and mingle with each other, forming a great soak or sponge that will slowly release the water and nourish the other plants long after the rains have gone.

Apart from the abundance of useful grasses, this time of the year brings many more rewards here on The Ridge. We have been enjoying a plentiful supply of lychees, bananas, passion fruits and cherry guavas and have a lemon tree I’m sure I can hear groaning under the weight of its bounty. And then there are the salad greens. If there’s one thing that hot, wet summers bring in abundance, it’s the ability to grow salad greens (especially any from tropical climates).

So, as I reach for another basket to gather up the day’s harvest and wander past the evidence school holidays have left behind (recalling the noise and ceaseless activity it brought with it), I’m mentally preparing my next salad and keeping a keen eye out for a fitting place to hang a hammock.