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Chopped-up dead kudzu = good mulch for N and biomass?

 
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I'm on a long term project to turn my sandy clay backyard (~0.33 acre) into good topsoil. This fall, we're planting our first cover crop (daikon plus PV Budget Soil Builder mix, which is bell beans, field peas, vetch, and oats). All well and good, but I'd like to lay some mulch over the cover crop seed in order to improve growing conditions and to substitute for a more traditional soil cover.

The plan is to broadfork (over the entire 1/3 acre), then broadcast the seed by hand, and then lay down a thin layer of finely chopped dead leaves and grasses to cover the seed. I don't have enough grass and leaves, though, and I'm thinking of harvesting some kudzu from a neighbor's yard, letting it dry, then running over it with a lawnmower a couple times to chop it up some. Questions:

1. Overall, is this a workable plan - to broadcast my cover crop seed and then cover it over with a thin layer of leaves/clippings rather than soil/compost
2. Are some types of leaves/clippings better than others
3. If I chop up kudzu pretty well, might it re-sprout in my yard?

I'm in Durham, NC, USA (zone 7b). Right in the heart of where kudzu is taking over, and we don't currently have it in our yard, and we'd like to keep it that way...

Thanks!
 
pollinator
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I wouldn't be afraid of dried out chopped kudzu sprouting. Even a growing vine has to have wet conditions to take root and establish itself. I know, I've taken segments of kudzu vine stuck them in the ground hoping to see them root and they failed to take hold.

Now what you do need to be careful of is that the kudzu that you chop hasn't flowered and gone to seed. The kudzu in my area is in the early part of flowering, and I haven't seen any pods just yet. I'm keeping my eye on various stands so I can collect seed when the pods are dry.

 
Rob Fetter
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Great. Thanks! Also, re chop and drop as cover crop cover, the more I read the more I see this is a fine way to do it. So, kudzu, here I come.
 
pollinator
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John Elliott wrote:I wouldn't be afraid of dried out chopped kudzu sprouting. Even a growing vine has to have wet conditions to take root and establish itself. I know, I've taken segments of kudzu vine stuck them in the ground hoping to see them root and they failed to take hold.

Now what you do need to be careful of is that the kudzu that you chop hasn't flowered and gone to seed. The kudzu in my area is in the early part of flowering, and I haven't seen any pods just yet. I'm keeping my eye on various stands so I can collect seed when the pods are dry.



I would be scared to death to even try this dry and chopped. It only takes 1 seed and you're done for. Here in MO, the authorities are so afraid of letting it get a hold that you can be slapped with a hefty fine if it is found growing on your property--whether you grew it deliberately or not.

 
John Elliott
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Deb Stephens wrote:
I would be scared to death to even try this dry and chopped. It only takes 1 seed and you're done for. Here in MO, the authorities are so afraid of letting it get a hold that you can be slapped with a hefty fine if it is found growing on your property--whether you grew it deliberately or not.



The authorities sound like they are easily spooked. I'll bet they would call out the SWAT team and the armored up Humvee if they got a report of an ISIS terrorist with a package of kudzu seeds.

As climate change moves the warmer zones north, expect that kudzu will move right along with it. But it may not be as invasive in the future as it has been in the past. Seems the kudzu is suffering from its own unwelcome invasive species -- the kudzu bug. They are quite well established here, and every time I go to cut kudzu, I have to shoo them off. I don't know how heavy the infestation has to be to seriously cut down on the kudzu, and I'm not sure we want to find out. See, when there is no kudzu to eat (like after the first hard freeze), the little critters go after any other legume that is winter hardy. They really like to collect on crimson clover, which is our winter green manure crop. Now, if I could bottle that attractant and put it inside the chicken tractor, the steady stream of kudzu bugs would make for some fat chickens.
 
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Have seen super high quality compost made from it. Any thing that grows 6-10 ft per day has got to be full of goodies. Also cooks the seed.
 
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