The Vetiver Garden @ Camp Borscht

It started as a rescue mission with Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides). When we first visited the land before deciding to purchase it, one thing we took note of was the open area that served as aster flower plantation – it was dry, hot, exposed, sanitized by the sun, prone to erosion. It was not only difficult to walk on due to the crumbling soil, we were worried that the top soil will only be swept away come rainy season.

So we sought out to heed the call. Searching for alternatives on a quick, cheap, but reliable fix, we came across this unassuming grass- Vetiver.

Vetiver is a clumping grass with blades up to a meter and roots of strong mat up to 3 meters deep. Ideal for holding soil for ages! This variety does not go to seed, so there is no risk of an invasion. Planted 10 centimeters apart on contour will certainly arrest surface run-off during heavy downpours. After 3 years, each clump can be divided into 30-50 slips for further propagation or establishment to other areas in the property. Initially, we purchased 4000 slips and planted them in January 2015. Three years later, after dividing a few of the clumps, we now have over 15,000 vetiver clumps planted in Camp Borscht. We have experimented with it in diverse situations – muddy, rocky, sandy, shaded, sunny – we concluded it is best in sunny open locations in its first two years of life in order to establish as a huge clump. This grass can be used for forage and biomass, for soil and water conservation, for landscaping, for land and mine rehabilitation, coastline, steep slope, rural road, bridge, highway, railroad, dam and riverbank protection and stabilization, for upland flood control, landfill treatment, effluent disposal, not to mention handicrafts, perfumery and pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. If you would like to know more about this grass and all its  benefits, this website is a God-send.

I love to harvest vetiver. The scent of the roots is cool, calming, relaxing.
Vetiver slips soaking in water before planting.
First growth of newly planted vetiver.
Left section is an established vetiver plantation. Right section is newly planted. area.
Vetiver here planted close to each other for soil and water conservation.

The area where the first 4000 was planted is now The Vetiver Garden. We were able to terrace the area despite its steep slope because of the established contours. Fruit trees have been planted in 2016 and soon we will be introducing the native superfood Cape Gooseberries as an under-shrub. We use the vetiver grass blades as chop and drop mulch to its companion fruit trees, while the roots that we have collected, which are highly valued in the essential oil and perfumery market for its heavenly scent and healing properties, are placed in our clothes boxes as insect deterrent and natural perfume.

Vetiver Garden 15 months from planting. Walking through the contours is already easy.
Beds between contours were made for planting.
We planted the beds and installed netting.

The Vetiver Garden is a dynamic scene. From an open dry land that was almost impossible to step on due to the crumbling soil, it is now a lush greenery of grass, shrubs and trees where the gardener can easily tend to the plants. It is still growing and the planting is not yet done. Even the propagation of the grass is a continuous activity in Camp Borscht. The vetiver grass continues to amaze me, such a simple solution to gardening that offers not just soil retention, but so much more!

Vetiver Garden in the background at 24 months from planting.
cookie in vetiver bed-1
I want to lay down on a bed of vetiver grass! That’s our cat Cookie!

Would you like to join us in this year’s vetiver propagation activity happening in September 2018? Sign-up here. In the process, you will get to know more about this amazing grass, learn how to prepare it for planting, as well as experience the first stages of mountain gardening with vetiver grass as as an alternative to retaining wall. You will also get to take home your own vetiver starter kit so you can propagate the grass in your own garden! Sign-up to join.

Here is an old video we made on how to prepare and plant vetiver.


More About the Event: Vetiver Propagation September 2018

  1. What will be happening on the event?

    Get up close and personal with the Vetiver Grass. Experience hands-on vetiver propagation and mountain gardening in Camp Borscht all in one day! Plus you get to have a healthy weekend workout like no other!

  2. When is this happening?
    • Choose from any Saturday of September 2018. September 1,8,15,22, or 29.
    • Dates are tentative, subject to weather conditions.
  3. What is the event itinerary?
    • 08:00 AM Meet-up at Tublay Municipal Hall, Acop Tublay, Benguet
    • 09:00 AM Brunch @ Camp Borscht
    • 10:00 AM Briefing
    • 10:30 AM Harvesting of Vetiver
    • 11:30 AM Dividing Vetiver Clumps to Slips
    • 12:30 PM Lunch
    • 2:00  PM  Planting of Vetiver Slips
    • 3:00  PM  Snacks and Giving away of Vetiver Starter Kits
    • 4:00  PM  Back to Tublay Municipal Hall
  4. About the food?
    • We cater to omnivorous and vegetarian diets. Please let us know if you’re a vegetarian and we will prepare separately for you. 
  5. How do I get to Camp Borscht?
    • We will gather first at the front of Tublay Municipal Hall then a short off-road ride (10-15 minutes) and a short trek up the mountain thereafter (20-30 minutes, prepare to sweat! Please bear in mind, terrain is challenging!).
  6. How do I get to Tublay Municipal Hall?
    • By car/taxi. Download waze app and search directions to go to Tublay Municipal Hall. Or follow any of these directions for routes coming from Baguio City Victory Liner PNR Bus Station to Tublay Municipal Hall. It takes 40-60 minutes to get there by car/taxi.
    • By jeepney. Go to Baguio City Public Market and look for the Acop jeepney terminal along Magsaysay Avenue. It is located here. It takes 90-120 minutes to get there by jeepney. 
  7. What do I need to bring for the event?
    1. Bring your water for the short trek going to Camp Borscht.
    2. Cover up your entire body from head to toe with light bright clothing.
    3. Bring rain coat just in case the weather requires it.
    4. Wear appropriate shoes, terrain is challenging.
    5. Use backpack for your belongings to free up your hands. 
    6. Wear garden gloves during the activity.
  8. How do I sign-up?
    • The event is listed in our facebook page. Click here to sign-up for the event. 
  9. Who can sign-up?
    • Anyone who is physically and mentally healthy, and of age 13-60 can join the event. This is mountain gardening true to the taste. So please be prepared to be challenged.
  10. How much is the joining fee?
    • Php 1,250 per person payable on the day after Brunch @ Camp Borscht.
    • Rates valid for September 2018 only.

Join us in this year’s Vetiver Propagation!

We’d love to garden with you! Sign up here.


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