Kudzu – The Vine That Swallowed The South

I’ve been talking a bit lately about gardening. Some of you may be new to gardening, so I offer this little tidbit for you. Consider this as you plan and plant your garden. Kudzu! Yes, Kudzu. It’s a hardy perennial for anyone that can be grown nearly anywhere.

invasive dot org

Picture credit: invasive.org

The vine that is slowly eating away at the South was first brought here from Japan in 1876 by the federal government as a ground cover to help alleviate erosion. In the late 1930s and early 40s government pushed the planting of Kudzu, even subsidizing it at $8 per acre. Even the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) helped to plant it. By the early 80s it had been classified as a noxious weed.

Kudzu will grow anywhere, even asphalt or concrete, but you should choose a site that has at least a bit of soil. I recommend planting it away from your neighbor’s house though, as this may cause a rift. Of course, if you don’t like your neighbor, plant it at night!

discover dot uga dot edu

Picture credit: discover.uga.edu

Kudzu requires no special soil preparation or fertilizer. If you want to mulch, even though it isn’t really necessary, put a brick or cinder block on top of the seeds. It will slow the initial growth, but the challenge will be accepted by the plant and you’ll be rewarded with an extra determined plant that will grow like mad. The Japanese vine is completely indifferent to chemicals or pests. Just plant it and let the insects fend for themselves.

Kudzu (reportedly) has many uses from food, to fodder, to fabric for clothing. I’ve never seen or heard tell of anyone using it for anything other than the object of lots of cussing. It will cover a house in days and weigh down telephone poles and lines. The only defense against Kudzu encroachment to be discovered is the goat and the sheep. Hell, they eat everything that isn’t red-hot or nailed down!

2footalligator blogspot dot com

Picture credit: 2footalligator.blogspot.com

Southerners being what we are, it was inevitable that Kudzu would be immortalized in verse:


Yes, I creep to cover, smother,
choking greenery like no other.
I am Kudzu taking over
places once filled deep in clover,
trees and bushes, vines entwining;
each within my path declining.
Little fazed by drought or drenching;
thirst for space there is no quenching.
In the brightness of the daylight
or within the depths of midnight
I am climbing, creeping, crawling
at a rate that’s deemed appalling.
Once confined to Asian byways,
now I border Southern highways
in relentless, endless forging
of the landscape I am gorging.
There’s no herbicide nor potion
that impedes my forward motion.
Look at me, see how I gloat, I…
Nuts, here comes that blasted goat!

 – by Don Shook

bbc dot com

Picture credit: bbc.com

Now, get out there and get to gardening!

angelina jolie

New Yesterdays is available at Amazon, or directly from me!


About Ol' Big Jim

Ol' Big Jim, has been a storekeeper, an embalmer, a hospital orderly, a medical biller, and through it all, a teller of tall tales. Many of his stories, like his first book, New Yesterdays, are set in his hometown of Piedmont, Alabama. For seven years, he lived in the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Amman, Jordan where he spends his time trying to visit each one of the thousands of Ammani coffee shops and scribbling in his ever-present notebook. These days, you can find him back stateside, still filling notebooks.
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8 Responses to Kudzu – The Vine That Swallowed The South

  1. I also love the different pronunciations of Kudzu. (cude-zu, cud-zu,) We in Texas have been pretty much spared but who is to say. Happy weekend, Jim

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jaysquires says:

    Love it, especially the remark about planting it near your neighbors late at night. I have enough problem with ivy. Must say I’ve never heard of that though.
    Tomatoes doing fine and I have 3 artichokes growing from a plant I started a year ago.
    Have a great weekend, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Teresa E Williams says:

    Wonderful writing, Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being from Ga I know kudzu very well. The gov tried to plant on my grandfathers farm in the 40’s… no sooner than they left he burned it off. It choked out much timber on the farms and the farmers suffered and lost their farms. It will takeover in a hot minute!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ol' Big Jim says:

      Yes, Ma’am, it surely will! Seems like you can actually see it grow. But, it does make a hillside look so soft and green, doesn’t it? But we, as Southerners, know what horrors lurk beneath those vines!

      Liked by 1 person

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