Tuesday, May 24, 2016

To Eat or Knot to eat Knot Weed - WSJ

Pittsburgh Tries to Eat Its Way Through a Savage Weed - WSJ:

What do you do, with Kudzu?

Invasives like kudzu and Japanese Knotweed, can take over square miles. They really go wild in strip mines and disturbed areas, and completely take over. Once started, the weed pushes out anything and everything in the surrounding areas -- an ugly mono-culture that disrupts entire ecosystems much like Melaleuca has done in Southern Florida.

Melaleuca trees transplanted to Florida to attempt to dry up the Everglades is not the same type that is found in herbs, incense  and oils. Ours tree apparently burn toxic, so firewood is out. One of the best uses of it is to make mulch... A rather cool business model where there's an endless supply, and land owners will typically pay you to take it. Getting paid twice for the same job, land owners and customers, while doing a good turn for the environment and society, has got to feel both good and green.

One of the best uses of kudzu, that invasive vine that has taken over the South (all the way down through Georgia), is to feed it to goats. Goats will eat anything. Once they eat all the kudzu in a field, they simply have to rest a while while it grows back.

Eating Knotweed is an interesting idea. It tastes a little like chicken, oops, no, that's an invasive animal. It apparently tastes somewhat like rhubarb. There is a limit to how much garnish people are willing to eat, however. I'm not sure that we could get everyone in the US to eat a couple helpings of rhubarb each day. Knotweed might require three helpings a day.

Unfortunately, knotweed often grows in disturbed soils like river banks and spent strip mines where the quality of the soil is not only poor, but often semi-polluted. Metals and heavy metals from coal dust/mines will make many knotweed harvests non-nutritious, at best. Modestly toxic at worst.

One of the best uses of knotweed would probably be biomass uses that go directly to incinerate, or are processed into ethanol. But, yet another kick in the pants: transporting knotweed  to the refinery/incinerator when in bloom, will spread the seed of invasion into fresh new virgin territories.

The weed is easily propagated from "cuttings" so 4-wheelers or trucks can readily spread the weed to places where it is not.

As with most (all?) invasives, this is a gift that keeps on giving.

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