Less than 22 minutes left in our kickstarter!

New rewards and stretch goals. CLICK HERE!



  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Cattails and permaculture  RSS feed

 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What does permaculture do with cattails? I feel I need to limit this invader as it it really bounding out I just this first year we've been here. I don't want a covered shore all around. It's about 10% right now.
 
Rick Roman
pollinator
Posts: 442
Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
26
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cattails are excellent permaculture plants. Cattails are phytoremediational plants. They clean, purify the water. They make a safe habitat for pond wildlife. Cattails ( Typha latifolia ) are a great wild edible The pollen can be eaten raw or cooked. The inner stalk as a raw veggie or cooked. Roots are a wonderful cooked vegetable. Roots can also be made into gruel or a dried and made into a meal or flour. Cattails can be a main ingredient in breads, pancakes, stews, soups and salads. Many people burn cattail "punks" as an insect repellent. Campers, woodsman and survivalists use them for a fire starting material and as cushion for bedding or pillow stuffing. My problem with foraging cattails is since that they are a phytoremediatioal plant, trying to find an area that is not polluted is close to impossible.
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
Posts: 801
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
36
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've never tried eating anything made from cat tails, though I've read in survival books since childhood about making flour, etc. from them.

Definitely would try though if I had a lot of it.

 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 475
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What did Mollison say about cattails?

It's supposed to be the most prolific root producer of any known plant. An acre of cattails can provide enough food to raise 40 pigs to maturity or something like that.

I would let it do it's thing and harvest 1/3 of it every year as winter animal feed.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cattails are a great riparian plant, unless you want anything else other than cattails. What I mean is that they will abolutely form a dense monoculture, that once established, will not be going away anytime soon. Ecologically, it is great that they stabalize the shoreline and purify incoming water. But unfortunately for our human desires, they completely choke the shoreline and make access very difficult. Over time, they actually fill in the pond with their roots, shrinking the area of pond.

The young shoots are tasty. I eat them occasionally, when I feel like something different. I think they have a crisp, cool, almost cucumber flavor that is good in salads. Mature plants make good basketry material.

If you do not want your pond to be fully colonized and dominated by cattails, I would start pulling them now. I think of them as a semi-desirable aquatic weed. They have their uses, for sure. But left to their own devices, they will takeover the entire shoreline. If you pull them when young, and the soil is wet, you can carefully pull out a chain of plants, roots and all. I do this a few times per summer. I never eradicate them all, it wouldnt be possible even if I wanted to. There are always some cattails, here and there, which is about what I want for my pond. Once they really colonize an area, your options are very limited. It is a situation where you need to stay ahead of the cattail invasion; an ounce of prevention worth far more than a pound of cure.
 
Lisa Stauber
Posts: 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Semi-related, but when planning a pond ecosystem, are there any plants I can put in that will crowd cattails OUT? I am severely allergic to them (anaphylactic/hives upon contact, even with the floating fluff) and don't want any cattails at all. What I can I plant that will prophylacticly keep cattails from establishing?
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lisa Stauber wrote:Semi-related, but when planning a pond ecosystem, are there any plants I can put in that will crowd cattails OUT? I am severely allergic to them (anaphylactic/hives upon contact, even with the floating fluff) and don't want any cattails at all. What I can I plant that will prophylacticly keep cattails from establishing?


I have planted hybrid water lilies along the shoreline in hopes of helping to compete against the cattails. If you are severely allergic to them though, and cannot even touch the cattails, I might seriously reconsider a pond ecosystem. I think that cattails are pretty much guaranteed in a pond, to some degree. Controlling them will definitely require hand pulling from time to time. As I have done, you can plant some shallow water plants, and shoreline plants, but they will absolutely not completely outcompete the cattails. Think of cattails as aquatic grass on steroids. They are unstoppable, but can be managed with care. Good luck!
 
Bill McGee
Posts: 185
Location: Southeastern Connecticut, USA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here in Connecticut Phragmites is out-competing Cattails to the detriment of muskrats and other wildlife. I love cattails.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tremendous responses. I knew something would turn up on this topic. How neat is the pig feed solution? I like that.

I went out and got a peddle boat for pulling the cattails from the water. Hundred bucks on Craigslist. It also turned out to be quite a treat to get out on the pond. Anyway, I got tired of pulling the cattails in the heat so I did some more reading on the uses and what not which have been mentioned above.

The pond guy is a decent resource for the topic of ponds, if you get past his penchant for using chemicals. During some of the topic discussion on cattails he basically says that you may be best off confining the growth instead of eradicating it . So I plan on just maintaining what I have with the knowledge of what I can do with it if I want. It is easy to pull sprouts, but hard to pull mature ones anyway. It is a beautiful plant as well, any pond looks better with some.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
192
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Along with root harvest, I wonder if the stems could be used either as feed or bedding. It's so fibrous that it might need to be fed to an elephant. There seems to be a lot of total biomass. Perhaps it could be used to produce methane. A mixture of pig manure and bedding could be fed through a digester and the effluent used as fertilizer. This would be a way to harvest pond nutrients for use on land. Nitrogen produced by algae is used by cattails, so a pond managed for large quantities of algae and cattails, becomes a nitrogen factory. I think feasibility would come down to the labor intensiveness of harvest.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale Hodgins wrote:Along with root harvest, I wonder if the stems could be used either as feed or bedding. It's so fibrous that it might need to be fed to an elephant. There seems to be a lot of total biomass. Perhaps it could be used to produce methane. A mixture of pig manure and bedding could be fed through a digester and the effluent used as fertilizer. This would be a way to harvest pond nutrients for use on land. Nitrogen produced by algae is used by cattails, so a pond managed for large quantities of algae and cattails, becomes a nitrogen factory. I think feasibility would come down to the labor intensiveness of harvest.



https://www.thepondguy.com/product/airmax-pond-beach-rake-weed-cutter/

Pond rake looks interesting if not over priced. I also like the nutrient harvest angle, as its been a challenge coming up with easy effective ways to do this. We would like to keep the pond low on algae unless of course your idea yields really well.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
192
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That rake might work for leaves or filamentatious algae. It would require super strength of both rake and operator to rip out cattail stems and roots. I suppose it might yank out some new growth. I was expecting to see the pond version of a root cutter plow.

I think some sort of long handled bill hook with a tip that comes right around to point back at the handle, could be dragged through the muck. I'd want to use it from a little barge or flat bottomed boat. After the roots are ripped from different angles a robust and much narrower rake might have a chance of pulling up something.

Continual harvest of tops could serve to remove nutrient from sewage and gray water systems. Seems like a safe way to put humanure to use.This stuff could be an ideal garden mulch since there's no chance of it growing again, unless the sprinklers have been on for far too long. It also lays flat. Some people have been making mats from slower to weave fibers used for weed suppression.
 
Keith Hansen
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The dried tops could be used to grow edible mushrooms like oyster mushrooms. I like the basket weaving idea and the mulch idea.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pulling the cattails one by one was tough, but with the peddle boat and some cooler weather it was doable. Not sure what the yield would be doing it this way or how long it would take relative to other food sources. I read somewhere of a person using a backhoe to dig up cattails to just rid of them - with the proviso that the muck is really heavy. That extreme seems out of proportion with the management I would see myself doing.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
192
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Keith Hansen wrote:The dried tops could be used to grow edible mushrooms like oyster mushrooms. I like the basket weaving idea and the mulch idea.


Welcome to the forum Keith.
---- I understand that many substrates used for mushrooms have to be sterilized due to the wrong type of spores being present already. I wonder if by using an aquatic plant, some of that work could be avoided. They naturally lie pretty flat when cut. I'll bet the mushrooms would come out nice and clean if it could be made to work.

Speaking of clean. Melons, squash and such can sometimes rot or be attacked by bugs where they meet the soil. Cattail is going to be foreign to many critters, so a mat of it might make a nice stay clean barrier. Water beads off those leaves. That might stop things from rotting at the soil-fruit junction. Slugs don't like to crawl over dry, raspy things. I'm going to try some of this out.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The ones that won't come up, I can assume have a really sizable root ball stuck in the muck. When it came to clipping the stalks, I had a very easy time, so I tend to believe the rake could razor through quite a bit of cattail. My patch isn't a big enough problem yet so I won't be getting the rake.
 
Keith Hansen
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you would just have to steam or boil them to kill the other spores, then keep sterol. spores are everywhere by the millions.-not to mention bacteria. I bet you could make good animal fodder with cattail for goats or cattle.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
192
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
According to this, protein content of young stems is 6% and they won't eat mature fibrous stuff. http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/livestock/nutrition/bza24s02.html

This might be a plant worth breeding for fuel or forage. I'd like to run some through a rocket stove and a methane digester. For animals, I think the tops are mostly rough forage and bedding. The roots are where the good stuff is, so it comes down to labor vs output.

I was at a pond the other day and checked out some dry cattail leaves. They seem like something that would make a clean mulch. Not something that will mud up like grass clippings.

If any of you have a combination of cattails and cattle or goats, please try a bit as bedding and post a photo. I'm going to try mulching a muddy area of garden.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3894
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
157
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe set up a pond like sepp does, with a moveable overflow pipe. You could drain the pond ,let it dry a bit and walk out to harvest the cattails.
 
Chad Anderson
Posts: 5
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Zone 2a
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Harvesting cattail leaves for livestock bedding in winter is convenient if you live far enough north! We've had plenty of cold weather and the ice is plenty thick in the shallow cattail habitat of our sewage lagoon to go trim some well-dried cattails for poultry bedding. I used a bow saw, which effortlessly zipped through the stems a few inches above ice level. By volume, it's a low-effort and quick harvest.

It was easy to pull them up through the ice, too, but then you get the fragrant reminder of unfrozen anaerobic decomposition. Hopefully, trimming a few inches above the ice level after a quite a few weeks of dry, sunny cold ensures a level of sanitation suitable for a chicken coop.

I piled them up on a 8x12 tarp, and pulled the ends together and it made a fast, bulky but almost weightless bale for transport.

Given the huge air cells inside dried cattail leaves, I can't imagine a warmer bedding. (But, for the same reason, I doubt its utility as a fuel.) Time will tell how absorbent and durable it is over the course of the winter - and whether it contributes to or minimizes odors in a deep (usually frozen) litter. At a minimum, I expect the litter to be well oxygenated top to bottom, due to the air cells in the leaves.
IMG_2474.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_2474.jpg]
Bow saw / cattail harvester
IMG_2475.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_2475.jpg]
Cattails baler
IMG_2480.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_2480.jpg]
Cozy bedding
 
220 hours of permaculture video, freaky cheap! http://kck.st/2q6Ycay.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!