Kitchen Garden Guides

Monday, April 12, 2010

Poa grasses

In South Australia I often heard people talk about the old days when they had a poa grass lawn, before everybody watered their lawns. Poa is a group of grasses native to parts of Australia and some are drought and/or frost hardy, ranging in location from river banks to alpine regions. I have never seen a poa lawn, however, and wondered why nobody seemed to sell the seed.

image At the food forest here in Cygnet one of the first jobs was to remove all the poa grass which at one time somebody had planted. Everybody seemed to know what this was except me but I soon understood.... it was those huge clumps of dead looking stuff! This must be different to the SA poa grass, surely! Like the others, I threw the clumps into a big heap as Celia told us to..... but later I discovered her plan. You see, the long, brown, dry, reedy grass can be harvested regularly through the year, simply by giving the clumps a hair cut, and used as an excellent, fine mulch which does not break down as fast as straw. They were almost a metre high when we cut them.

image So, at the end of the gardening session, we each cut and left the mulch to use next week, and took the clumps home, with soil attached, to plant in our own gardens to give a supply of mulch for next summer. Here in the photo are my shorn clumps, all planted. Well, why aren't we doing this in our gardens in SA?? I know there are grasses in the nurseries but I did not know much about using them.



Already the poas I planted after the first garden session have sprouted new growth and I look forward to having a border around my lawn before long but more, I look forward to harvesting my own mulch when I need it.



Both of the photos below have links that will take you to the source of the photos and to wonderfully interesting native Australian plant nurseries.

Poa Labillardieri or 'Large Tussock Grass' is a clumping species to nearly 1m with grey-green leaves. Hardy, frost tolerant and drought tolerant this Poa is great for borbers and landscape plantings. Poa australis or 'Blue Tussock Grass' is a smaller growing species approx 30cm. and like all Poa is attractive to birds. Poa sieberiana is the 'Grey Tussock Grass' and is found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

The S.A.State Flora Nursery at Belair has an incredible range of plants including the poa labillardieri, on page 34 of the extensive but not very user-friendly online catalogue.


africanaussie said...

Mmmmm I use lemongrass in much the same way here in the tropics. I have an idea that it reduces the mozzies, or maybe that is just wishfull thinking, anyway it does smell nice when first spread out!

Hugh said...

Might pull out the bloody roses and throw in some poa