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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poor Peoples' Bamboo

The pie cherry has begun its short season; to get any we have to pick when less than half are fully ripe, as there is a flock which comes when the cherries are at their best and cleans the tree in less than an hour. Today I picked to freeze, but once I got them in the house I sat down with them and gorged myself silly.

This must be the fruit hunger that comes of seriously trying to eat from home and in-season only. There seems to be something in the cherries my body was famished for, and when it got the chance, Lizard Brain took over. I can only say that the flavor, under these circumstances, seems wonderfully enhanced. "Absence doth the heart make fonder..." well, the tummy for sure. There was enough left over for three small freezer bags, pitted. These will be nice come winter.

I would have picked more but the tree had a lot of deadwood and hollowness and had been split by a falling ash tree in an ice storm, so I cleaned it up (i.e., firewooded half of it) last winter and now the cherries grow too far above ground except where they can be reached with an extension ladder. So the birds will certainly get their share.


It's also Japanese Knotwood season. This stuff is listed as one of the most pernicious of invasives, and it is; the seeds drift down creeks and lodge on new properties, and, once arrived, the roots grow huge, and spread under ground, sending up shoots like Tyrannosaurus Crabgrass. There's little hope of spraying it to death without ruining your place, and less of digging it out. So we are trying to adapt to it.

We've learned to think of it as a Poor Peoples' Bamboo. We do not recommend the following, as I'm sure it has risks, but so far we have gotten away with it -- YMMV! Caveat emptor. K'? So ... keep the edges of the patch mowed back, to slow the spread. In the middle of the patch, let shoots grow to about eight feet, and harvest them June or early July, not in August/September, when they have gone to seed. Cut off the branches with all the big leaves and run them through the mower/bagger or shredder for mulch. Use the canes as beanpoles, plant supports, or as wattles -- we thread them through our welded-wire fence out by the road, to add privacy and deaden traffic noise.

Here we have some Japanese Knotweed beanpoles. I'm paranoid about getting them established in the garden so I use them upside down, to prevent rooting. Don't know that it makes a difference, but, hey, none of them have rooted. Plants are gravity fed and being upright is important to them, so maybe I'm onto something. They can't, of course, support beans this way by themselves; they're too fragile, so I tie them onto a strand of seventeen-gauge wire strung between iron t-posts, as shown.

The poles seem to last three to four years. After that, they are so fragile they shatter when used again in the garden. So we rotate them out of that service and into kindling work -- dried knotweed lights like paper -- burns more like tinder than kindling, so you still need real kindling to go with it -- but the quick, sure ignition has its own advantages.

This may not seem like very long-lasting beanpoles, but look at it this way -- if you are cursed with a patch of this dreadful stuff, you will never run out of beanpoles.


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