[permaculture] kudzu starts

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Wed Jul 2 11:37:01 EDT 2008

Jonathan asks, "I was wondering if anyone might have any kudzu (Pueraria 
montana) rhizomestarts I could buy or trade for? I could pay shipping costs. It's 
pretty hard trying to find a purchase source on the internet due to this 
plant's condemned status. But nonetheless, what a useful species! Forage for goats, 
bees etc., valuable root starch, prodigious soil builder and a nitrogen fixer 
to boot! Safe enough to use here outside of Denver, Colorado where we don't 
have a lot of rainfall and cold winters to check it dispersal; not that 
anthropogenic dispersal is 'bad' or anything :)  Maybe a guild possibility in this 
bioregion with Juglans due to J.'s nitrogen requirements. Pack that with pawpaw 
and goats and I think we might have a winner!"

How much do you need? I can give you a couple of boxcar loads. But I would 
suggest that you first check with Colorado's Department of Agriculture to see 
whether they would tolerate its introduction.

Back in the 19th century we had a fellow called Mr Johnson, who introduced an 
ornamental grass he thought highly of, hoping it might do well in the south. 
It did.

To this day, farmers around hear curse and spit on the ground whenever they 
hear the words "Johnson grass". We wouldn't want kudzu to become known locally 
up your way as "Jonathan grass".

It is in fact, a miracle weed and quite easy to grow. And it has been 
mentioned as having a biofuel potential on a par with corn, in terms of recoverable 
therms per acre. The starchy roots are nutritious, and goats have been known to 
browse on the stuff. But I think as your familiarity with it increases you'll 
be encountering problems with the harvesting. The tubers it grows from go 
down to about five feet, and have to be grubbed up mechanically. Hand harvesting 
is not feasible, and quite a lot of deep plowing would be required to expose 
the roots.

So think twice-- no, three times, before intentionally putting this weed from 
hell into a new environment. Once established, (assuming it takes to your 
site) you can never get rid of it and use your land for anything else. You've got 
kudzu forever. If you painstakingly remove every last root you can find, it 
reseeds itself by magic.


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