Nursery Notes: 'growing on' Vetiver in sand.


One of the very few advantages of so much flooding on the east coast of Australia is that there is always sand and sand bags left over after a deluge.
We have 'brought on' Vetiver slips in water for years. After harvest and division, resting the slips in water is a great way to store/warehouse the plants until distribution.
But when sitting in water, Vetiver is easily drowned or there's not enough of it. You need the water level to be 'just right' -- with the root crown above the surface.
With so much sand on hand, why not re-use it?
So far so good: this setup is working and I note that other Vetiver nurseries are using a similar system -- such as Eagle Vetiver Systems Ltd (Papua New Guinea).
While we do fertilise the water -- with the sand as a growth medium the plants are much easier to monitor. We do have the advantage of hard cell seedling trays, which support the slips upright and enable easier inventory.
Previously we had used a variety of frames to contain the water & plants -- but with levelling and supply, they can be a bit cumbersome and aren't as practical as cutting banana stems to length (assuming you have a supply of those!).
With some plastic and banana stems, it's easy to expand the number of plants you are nurserying cheaply and quickly.
Other methods which presume the plastic will not leak are, in our experience, always a disaster.
Sand does retain moisture. It may retain less moisture than carbon rich soil, but the end product does grow new roots, is cleaner, uncontaminated by weeds and very much proven to be 'alive'.
Best of all, the Vetiver slips are touched by the wet sand but not drowned by the water.