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Anyone have experiance with growing Kudzu in controlled way?

 
John Wahlmeier
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Has anyone had any experiance with growing kudzu under controlled conditions. I mean growing it in areas or ways in which it doesn't take over. I just finished a review on "The book of Kudzu" and it seems like it could be an extremely useful plant for organic growers provided it did't get out of hand.

My review is here

http://uncommon-skills-uncommonskills.blogspot.com/2012/09/kudzu-miracle-plant-that-ate-south.html

And the book can be found here if you want to read for yourself

The Book of Kudzu

Any experiance with it?

uncommonskills
 
John Wahlmeier
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A caveat, kudzu is a noxious weed in many states and if found by state officials would be destroyed or the landowner would be charged a hefty fine.
 
Rion Mather
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You are going to do what you want to. My personal experience is that the pictures don't capture the full scope of the damage done by kudzu. I have seen acres upon acres covered and destroyed by Kudzu. The plant alters ecosystems.
 
John Wahlmeier
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Alright, bad idea to consider planting it.

How about harvesting it from the wild. The roots appear to be a good source of starch that people could use and removing the root would at least knock the Kudzu back a bit. The leaves could probably be gathered for sheep and goats. The book claims that more than 2 harvests per year weaken and eventually will kill the kudzu. Perhaps the problem is partially from people not knowing how to use the plant that is taking over their land.

 
Rion Mather
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The rate and ease of growth, constant maintenance, and absentee landowners are the major problems with keeping Kudzu in check. Kudzu grows at a rate of 1 foot a day so you can imagine how easily the plant can extend out of a contained area. The seeds and roots are what make killing the plant so difficult. A plant can emerge years after it was thought to be destroyed.
 
Shawn Harper
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Is it frost hardy? Sounds like a useful herb to me...
 
Leila Rich
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This one's caused some angst before!
In NZ, we're overrun with rampant introduced vines in some pretty undisturbed areas.
Kudzu sounds terrifying
 
Nicole Castle
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Location: Madison, AL
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Processing kudzu root into starch is a time consuming and difficult. It's not really appropriate for a home-scale effort. IMO, this plant falls under the "technically edible" category. You can eat the flowers and the new shoots, and you can make tea out of the roots, but if you don't already battle this plant you really don't want to. Remember, kudzu was brought to the South in the first place because it was supposedly such a useful plant. Ugh.

I think if we are going to make ethanol, we should make it out of kudzu instead.
 
Marc Troyka
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Yeah, kudzu is not something you plant on purpose if you know what is good for you. Birds will spread it like wildfire, probably worse than ivy, and I've seen it eat entire forests up in Kennesaw. It's probably one of the most noxious weeds out there.
 
Leila Rich
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I've already said I've got strong opinions on this.
I sometimes notice a lack of long-term thinking when it comes to planting. People will say, "X is a fantastic permaculture plant, as long as it's managed"
So what happens when we lose interest/move/die?
And that's not even taking birds, wind and so on into account as propagation agents...
 
Kitty Leith
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The roots are dried, ground up and made into noodles here in Korea.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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When I see the price of the powdered root in healthfood stores...!
It must be difficult to process, isn't it?
Suki, can you tell more?

Would it be weedy in a very dry area?
I have seeds...
If I want a vine that shed leaves in winter, I have not found any other (except grape vine of course).

I guess it cannot be weedy here because of the very long summer drought.
My problem, if I guess well, would be that I will have to take care that it does not die of thirst!!!
 
Marc Troyka
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:When I see the price of the powdered root in healthfood stores...!
It must be difficult to process, isn't it?
Suki, can you tell more?

Would it be weedy in a very dry area?
I have seeds...
If I want a vine that shed leaves in winter, I have not found any other (except grape vine of course).

I guess it cannot be weedy here because of the very long summer drought.
My problem, if I guess well, would be that I will have to take care that it does not die of thirst!!!


I doubt it's that difficult to process. In Asia it is grown regularly and used for a variety of purposes, including noodles which are called various things in various countries. Here in the west it's treated like some mystic asian cure for diseases and marketed at ripoff prices (good for people who can harvest it, I suppose).

I'm not sure how well your droughtiness will protect you against kudzu's weediness. Kudzu grows a deep taproot and spreads like wildfire when conditions permit. If you happen to be wrong.. it isn't a very forgiving plant.
 
Kitty Leith
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Don't have any experience, but I imagine it's just dried and stone ground into flour. Then processed into noodles the same way as any noodles are - which is, in fact, pretty laborious. They are pretty yummy. Any of the non-wheat flour noodles are.

The local specialty is served in an anchovy broth with lettuce, a dab of red pepper paste, kimchi, some julienned carrot & cucumber , and dried sliced seaweed on top. They take the water the noodles were cooked in and drink it warm as tea after the meal, considering it beneficial to health.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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My idea about it being difficult to excavate and process comes from this:
It is weedy and grows like mad, and it is a good income when you see the price...
So, if something is freeely available, needs to be cut, AND is worth selling, why nobody does it?
Well, so I concluded it must be difficult....
 
Nicole Castle
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Location: Madison, AL
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Kudzu noodles are made from kudzu powder, often with arrowroot. Noodles are time consuming but making the powder is the laborious part. Most guides on how to eat kudzu just skip to the part where you start with the commercially prepared powder. Traditionally housewives would make it for their family's use, but it was one of those things where everyone gets together and does it all at once to share the labor.

http://www.mitoku.com/products/kuzu/making_kuzu.html

Xisca, don't plant it. It is exceptionally drought tolerant due to it's huge root system. I'd bet anything it'd survive and thrive in your climate, and when kudzu thrives it ain't pretty. While it is a very useful plant in some ways, the disadvantages far outweigh introducing it into a foreign ecosystem. It displaces absolutely everything else.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I have been looking hard on the www and saw that it thrives in not so dry places,
but I kept the seeds until I knew more,
that is why I took the opportunity of this thread!

We have no rain from may to october. 5 months drought every year. (16 months this year...)
Can it thrive when it is raining in the cool season?

for us, a vine that shades in summer is an advantage, and vinis is covered with mildiew here.
 
Nicole Castle
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:
We have no rain from may to october. 5 months drought every year. (16 months this year...)
Can it thrive when it is raining in the cool season?


I gotta be honest... most effort here goes into ways to kill it (not much). We don't care what makes it grow! It's not frost tolerant -- that about the only time it doesn't grow. If you look at that link you'll see how huge those tubers get. Could it go 5 months without water? I'd guess yes. None of the places in the southeast that had extreme drought the past few years are reporting any decrease in the infestation.

I don't think it would create the shade you want. First, it takes over the edge of a forest where it's sunny enough. Then it kills the trees and shrubs by completely covering them so that NO sunlight gets to the other plants. That creates more room for itself to grow, destroying the forest as it goes. It takes years to exhaust the resources of a large mature tree and kill it beyond repair, but eventually it does. I'm not sure what keeps it in check in it's natural range, but something clearly does and we don't have it.
 
Marc Troyka
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Well, I don't think it's actually frost intolerant, it's just that frost slows it down. In japan where it's native, it's a cooler (but wet) climate and it doesn't grow as quickly. Permanent dry can stop it from being successful, but if it ever turns warm/wet for 3 or more months, I would definitely NOT plant it. The more sunlight it has, the faster it will grow. In tropical areas you might literally have to run from it if it gets a decent amount of rain.
 
Paula Edwards
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I must admit I once bought a kudzu plant which was expensive on the top of it and it simply dies. It did not grow back after winter and the frosts here don't go below -5°C.
That means it is a weed only in some areas.
You could always plant it in a big container and tip it over at the end of the season for easy root harvest.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Nicole Castle wrote:I'm not sure what keeps it in check in it's natural range, but something clearly does and we don't have it.


That is the most important thing for gardening: KNOW the plants and their habits!

"WE" don't have it... depending who and where is "we"...
I do not have frost to kill anything,
I just have drought all summer!

As it is starch and I have decided to drop starch eating (though kudzu is even considered as medicinal starch, I wander how it works by the way...)
so i will not plant it, and the seeds stay in the "collection"!
 
Paul Gutches
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Rion Mather wrote:The rate and ease of growth, constant maintenance, and absentee landowners are the major problems with keeping Kudzu in check. Kudzu grows at a rate of 1 foot a day so you can imagine how easily the plant can extend out of a contained area. The seeds and roots are what make killing the plant so difficult. A plant can emerge years after it was thought to be destroyed.


Just let chickens have at em.

I hear they really like it.
 
nathan luedtke
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Dan Hemenway put out a white paper in 1993 or so about his ideas for a Kudzu Utilization Project, with a lot of ideas about how to implement a permaculture kudzu business and scale it up. Ideas include a "Kudzu Busters" service where people would pay you to graze goats or rabbits on their kudzu, processing roots for starch, or making a protein powder/curd out of the leaves. Definitely not fully fleshed out, but if you are interested in making productive use of Kudzu, this would be a great place to start.

I have spent a good deal of time in the South and seen lots of kudzu, so I would agree with the recommendation that it's unnecessary to plant more of it. There's more than enough to go around at this point!

Also, the kudzu wikipedia page is instructive, especially the "uses" section.
 
R Scott
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Playing with kudzu is playing with fire--no worse, like asking for more government!
 
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