Parasitic Planters

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Introduction: Parasitic Planters

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When I bought my house, there was and still is a good deal of this invasive species established here called Japanese Knotweed.  It has an appearance like bamboo, but without much structural strength to it.   It's very prolific and tends to shade out other vegetation.  And it grows from a three inch sprout out of the ground into a 7 foot tall plant, seemingly overnight.

I figure, if it's going to be here hogging up the landscape, we might as well put it to work.

This is an experiment, I don't know if it's going to really work yet, but I think it has potential.

First progress photos added: 5/24/13

Okay, so a lot of people are asking: What is the point of this?  Well, it gets plants you want to be growing (instead of the knotweed) up into the sunlight. The problem is that the knotweed blocks out the light from the ground so no other plants can get started. This lets you grow other plants on top of it, sort of defeating its evolutionary advantage.  You're basically using the knotweed to help other plants you prefer to grow get advantageous access to sunlight.  I hope that helps explain it better for those who don't get the point.

Another question people are asking is:  Why don't you just kill the plant?  Well, it's also on the neighbors yard primarily and I think they like it for the privacy screening it provides.  It's not exactly a problem.  Believe me, the real problem is blackberries.  But anyway.  I only knew of its noxious weed status after a visit from the local arborist who kind of freaked out about it.  But If it gets to be a problem, I would probably choose the method suggested by HSLINKS which is to cover it completely in three layers of carpets.  

But the best news is:  this plant is very muchedible!  As pointed out by user Hoopajoo:  


 See also:  http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Knotweed.html
Here's a recipe:  http://www.richmondlandtrust.org/docs/garlic.pdf
And another:  http://eastoneccentric.blogspot.com/2013/05/if-you-cant-beat-it-eat-it-japanese.html

Okay, I tried it raw as described in the video and while I would not call it delicious, it is decidedly lemony and vegetably and a case could be made for sour-apple.  It wasn't entirely unpleasant and I did not get sick or die, so I'm glad to know about one more wild edible in case I'm ever out in the woods and hungry. I think though that the key may be to cook it. I'm going to try that soon. Interestingly, it is also sold in supplement form as a source of resveratrol.

Be careful of course, make sure you know you have the right plant.  There are plants out there with mottled green/red stems which are poisonous such as hemlock

Step 1: Supplies

empty plastic bottles
hot knife
vapor mask
green paint that will adhere to plastic

Step 2: Paint the Bottles Green

Wearing the vapor mask, spray paint the bottles a nice green color to blend in with the knotweed.

Step 3: Make a Window

If the label is willing, you can remove it now to create a little window

Step 4: Invasive Species, Meet Invasive Species

Thread the bottle onto the plant from the top with the mouth of the bottle pointing downwards. 

Fill the bottle with soil and add some seeds.

Depending on sun, weather and shade, water often enough to keep the soil moist.

I had to remove some of the larger stems and leaves to get the bottle on in most cases.  However, this plant is so hardy, that it didn't mind the insult.  As long as you don't crack the main stem, the plant is putting up with it.

These plants are kinda wussy, they will only support one bottle full of soil.  Any more than that and they start to lean over too much.

Work sucks, eh Mr. plant?

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65 Comments

Brilliant! Thank you!

While I probably won't be doing this project this year (I have a beautiful garden already going at home), I found it really interesting that knotweed is edible. It's growing all over near where I work. I'm going to have to try making recipes with some. Thanks for the info!

Apart from using no cover for the ground (old newspapers) while spraying the bottles I love everything about your approach! Great work and inspiration!

Oh... yeah. I guess I didn't really think about it. Thank you!

They grow out of control in Connecticut as well. I tried all kinds of things ta kill this stuff...Gasoline, Clorox, Mowing as they sprouted, I even went to UCON to find out what this was. I think if it could be used as farm animal feed would be ah good thing as it grows REAL FAST and many crops of the stuff could be had from it.
I thought it might be akin to Kudzu at one time.

Cool idea. What part of the country are you located? I've never heard of this invasive species. Another suggestion, to keep the plants from falling over with too much weight as the planted seedlings begin to get bigger is link the invasive plants together like a grid. Sort of like those huge bamboo exoskeletons you see on Asian skyscrapers in China and Hong Kong.

Washington state. Good ideas thank you

They grow out of control in Connecticut as well. I tried all kinds of things ta kill this stuff...Gasoline, Clorox, Mowing as they sprouted, I even went to UCON to find out what this was. I think if it could be used as farm animal feed would be ah good thing as it grows REAL FAST and many crops of the stuff could be had from it.
I thought it might be akin to Kudzu at one time.