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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 much edible!  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
 
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These look awesome!

bmartinez164 months ago
Knotweed is edible
xfirexstarzx10 months ago
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!
antioch10 months ago
Apart from using no cover for the ground (old newspapers) while spraying the bottles I love everything about your approach! Great work and inspiration!
foobear (author)  antioch10 months ago
Oh... yeah. I guess I didn't really think about it. Thank you!
Dr.Bill11 months ago
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.
Blaise_Gauba11 months ago
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.
foobear (author)  Blaise_Gauba11 months ago
Washington state. Good ideas thank you
Dr.Bill foobear11 months ago
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.
l8nite11 months ago
I don't know how much growth you'll get from what you plant but I'm willing to bet the main plant will fill your bottle with roots
foobear (author)  l8nite11 months ago
I'm starting to think that might happen. I didn't know about air layering before, but a couple people mentioned it. I may have to think of some kind of a workaround to keep the knotgrass from rooting in the planter.
rncbme foobear11 months ago
You could either use a piece of pvc pipe as an inner sleeve, sealing it to the neck of the bottle, or perhaps wrapping the knotweed tightly with aluminum foil before you slide the bottle down to the section where it will reside.
sspruill111 months ago
They may be edible and nutritious, but I can tell you first-hand they are NOT tasty. They have a lot of oxalic acid in them and are therefore very sour. If you have a good recipe I would be willing to change my mind.

Cool concept, but I prefer to just mow them down.
foobear (author)  sspruill111 months ago
I tried some raw as described in the video and it is decidedly lemony and sour and a case could be made for sour-apple. I think the key may be to cook it. I'm going to try that soon. Interestingly, it is also sold in supplement form for resveratrol.
Hoopajoo11 months ago
Actually, Japanese Knotweed is edible, loaded with vitamin C, and a big part of some Asian diets. Here is a quote from an article and the link to the article:

"Japanese Knotweed gets no respect. Nearly everywhere it grows it’s listed as a prolific, noxious, invasive, dangerous bad-for-the-world, the-sky-is-falling weed. Oh by the way, it’s edible. Might be even really healthy for you…. pesky weeds have that habit."

http://www.eattheweeds.com/japanese-knotweed-dreadable-edible/

Here is a link to a video showing how it can be eaten:

http://youtu.be/B5-bZzMp8wQ
This is amazing. I'm surrounded by the stuff. Can't wait to try it! Thanks!
foobear (author)  The Crunchy Urbanite11 months ago
cool!
foobear (author)  Hoopajoo11 months ago
I had heard something like that but wanted to wait and make sure before I tried it. Thanks for that link! I will feel more confident trying it now.
Hoopajoo foobear11 months ago
No problem! Free food is always win-win when it doubles as weed control.
willronin11 months ago
hilarious!! upload some picts of your experiment in progress. I have a large front yard and am looking to put it to work :)
foobear (author)  willronin11 months ago
some seeds are starting to sprout, I'll give it another week and see how it looks and post pictures after a week or so
steelchef11 months ago
I hate Monsanto but this sounds like a good candidate for Roundup. We have a plague of 'False Maples which are also an invasive species. I battled them for 20 years. In desperation, the chemical was enlisted and POOF, no more maples.
I admire your innovation but it seems a lot of work - to what end?
HSLINKS steelchef11 months ago
the neighbor I was talking about used Roundup - it did nothing it came back later in a few months and more in the next year .. the carpet was the only thing that killed it .. have the burlap side up so it looks better

I remember reading (years ago) about an experiment with trying to kill it in VT .. apparently some how the lights were accidently turned off and they started to look bad .. if you notice they don't grow well in shade
foobear (author)  steelchef11 months ago
To grow things. It's a planter that gets the seedlings up into the sunlight. Not sure why people don't understand that.
DynatecME11 months ago
For a good organic "plant food" for this ornamental bamboo, use the following formula.
Works on poison ivy also.
1 qt vinegar
1 cup salt
1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Mix well and spray often.
skylane DynatecME11 months ago
This "plant food" recipe is for the plants you DONT want to keep.
(Just in case someone misinterprets it )
foobear (author)  DynatecME11 months ago
I was thinking of injecting unwanted plants (yard is also totally overgrown with himalayan blackberries) with vinegar to see what happens. Want to keep it natural, no roundup.
denswei DynatecME11 months ago
Salt is natural, but be aware it does poison the soil (until it can wash away). Could be a problem later...
fallis11 months ago
So... what exactly does this do? You're growing plants ... on your plants? What's the window for?
foobear (author)  fallis11 months ago
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.
foobear (author)  foobear11 months ago
the window just lets you watch the seedlings sprout, which is kind of fun I think
soul_eater11 months ago
Work lazy plant, nice second floor for a garden
foobear (author)  soul_eater11 months ago
hehe thanks!
Olga11 months ago
what is the purpose of doing that ? Apparently, the only thing you will get is a growing of roots on the main stem, and make a cutting with it !! If I understood correctly, you wanty to get rid of these plants...
vincent752011 months ago
I'm sorry but not being a green thumb I just don't get the advantage of having your plant pushing up a piece of discarded plastic ? Moreover as the plant is invasive and, as I understand, you don't want it to overgrow it's neighbors, this must not be to help it grow ?…
I'm sure this inst' would be great if you added the purpose of all this ?…
foobear (author)  vincent752011 months ago
The point is mentioned in the last step and in the headline. It's a planter. Add soil and seeds and water. The purpose is to get the seedlings up into the light.
Aaah ! sorry I didn't know what a planter was !…
Still I don't understand why you need to care about plants you find invasive instead of getting rid of them, but that's a matter of personal choice, I believe !
Maybe that's why people don't understand that as you told @steelchef
this is a cool idea! I hope it works... I think it will.
foobear (author)  Erratic.Chromatic11 months ago
cool, thanks
Ironsloth199311 months ago
That's hilarious! I like the idea. Works sucks, eh Mr. Plant.
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