How to grow Kudzu -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- All beginning gardeners out there might want to consider growing kudzu as a fine way to launch out into the great adventure of gardening here in Arkansas or anywhere in the south. Kudzu, for those of you Not already familiar with it, is a hardy perennial that can be grown quite well by the beginner who observes a few simple rules. Kudzu is a fine plant for those with green thumbs, brown thumbs or those who have no thumbs at all. Its not picky. Kudzu is to the plant world what fire ants are to the insects. The other plants sort of gasp when it arrives on the scene. Choosing a Plot: Kudzu can be grown almost anywhere, so site selection is not the problem it is with some other finicky plants like strawberries and other pesky edible vegetables or fruits. Although kudzu will grow quite well on cement, asphalt or solid rock outcroppings, for best result you should select an area having at least some dirt. To avoid possible lawsuits, it is advisable to plant well away from your neighbors house (or garden), unless, of course, you actually hate them. Preparing the Soil: Go out and stomp on the soil for a while just to get its attention and to prepare it for kudzu. You could bend over and kiss it goodbye for it is about to disappear from your view. Since youre just starting you might also want to apologize to it for what you are about to do. Deciding When to Plant: Kudzu should always be planted at night. If kudzu is planted during daylight hours, neighbors might see you and begin stoning or shooting at you or they might call the butterfly net and buckled tuxedo boys. Probably they would do both. If they do find out that it was you that launched the stuff you might see them coming up your drive one night with torches and axe handles. Very much like they did to a fictional movie monster creator. Motion detectors are a good investment, they can give you a little head start. Selecting the Proper Fertilizer: The best fertilizer I have discovered for kudzu is 40 weight non-detergent motor oil. Kudzu actually doesn't need anything to help it grow, but the motor oil helps to prevent galling and scraping the underside of the tender leaves when the kudzu realizes that it has been unchained and takes off for parts unknown. Actually 10W40 is a nice touch since it does adapt for different daily temperatures. This also cuts down on the friction and lessens the danger of fire when the kudzu really starts to move out in mid-summer. Add oil once every thousand feet or every week which ever comes first. The environment will not be harmed by the oil since Kudzu has the endearing habit of either digesting or covering everything in its path. Old diesel fuel, 2-4D, 2-4-5T acid, Dioxin, Nuclear waste are all accepted as part of a happy environment by Kudzu. Mulching the Plants: Contrary to what may be told by the Extension Service, kudzu can profit from a good mulch. I have found that a heavy mulch for the young plants produces a hardier crop. For best results, as soon as the young shoots begin to appear, cover kudzu with concrete blocks. Although this causes a temporary setback, your kudzu will accept this mulch as a challenge and will reward you with redoubled determination in the long run. Dont be startled if you happen to see those blocks jumping around as Kudzu gets a good foothold and really starts to flourish and flex its newfound green muscles. Organic or Chemical Gardening Kudzu is ideal for either the organic gardener or for those who prefer to use chemicals to ward off garden pests. Kudzu is oblivious to both chemicals and pests. As a matter of fact on a good growing day the Kud will completely engulf wood rats, ground hogs, chipmunks and other gnawing types that tend to nibble at the plant. Therefore, you can grow organically and let the pests get out of the way of the Kudzu as best they can, or you can spray any commercial poison Directly on your crop. Your decision depends on how much you enjoy killing bugs. The kudzu will not mind either way. Even if some insect pests happen to eat a few tons in a day it will grow back practically overnight. Crop Rotation: Many gardeners are understandably concerned that growing the same crop year after year will deplete the soil. If you desire to change from kudzu to some other plant next year, now is the time to begin preparations. The most successful method of growing other plants is to grow them in pots that are sitting on top of the Kudzu. The disadvantage is that every day you will have to walk 20 or thirty feet farther in order to water them. Selling your house; In late winter, while Kudzu is getting a well earned rest, you should list your house and lot with a reputable real estate agent and begin making plans to escape, er, move elsewhere. Your chances of selling will be better now than they will be later in the year, when it may be difficult for a prospective buyer to realize that underneath those lush green vines stands an adorable three-bedroom house. If you tarry too long then you will have to start your yearly chore of mowing the walls and the roof. If you can sell out and move as fast as the Kudzu moved in you have done well. Kudzu the gift that keeps on giving.