Gardeners grassed out


Gardeners grassed out

The Ministry of Agriculture is encouraging the public to purchase vetiver plants to help cultivate and stabilize the soil on their properties.

Agriculture secretary Temarama Anguna-Kamana said they had more than 130 plants selling at $5 a bag.

The grass is found on Rarotonga and the islands of Mangaia and Atiu.

“The grass was introduced to these Pa Enua for soil stabilisation and conservation especially on sloping lands that were extensively used for pineapple cultivation.

“The grass is used by a number of home-owners on hillsides and along beachfront areas also for soil stabilisation.

Anguna-Kamana said the vetiver grass is a perennial bunchgrass native to India.

It had a bunching growth habit and remained localized, unlike other grass species that spread easily. It could grow to more than 1.5 metres after a few years, and its root system could grow to more than 3 metres, making it excellent for soil stabilisation.

The grass was useful for erosion control, for water re-charge, in the uptake of nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates and heavy metals alongside streams, for carbon storage and sequestration in the soil, for making baskets, medicinal and cosmetic uses in many countries in Asia and hedgerows for soil moisture conservation.

Last year Andy Kirkwood and Justine Flanagan presented a proposal for vetiver grass to be used in the new Muri wastewater treatment plant.