Crazy kudzu

Crazy Kudzu

Crazy kudzu is everywhere. This is our number one observation over the last month. Crazy kudzu dominates North Carolina and southern Virginia.

I first heard of kudzu in the 1960s. It was already a problem invasive species intentionally imported from Japan as decoration in 1876. It spread as food for animals and erosion control. I guess you can say that the intentions were good but the results are pretty horrifying. The nicknames are “the-vine-that-ate-the-south” and also “foot-a-night-vine”.

Kudzu killing a tree
Kudzu killing a tree

We’re from the government and we’re here to help

The U.S. government aided the issue starting at the time of the dust bowl by offering cheap starter plants to help farmers. The soil conversation service actually paid farmers to plant kudzu (that is crazy) in their fields. Kudzu however preferred to grow next to roads where sunlight was abundant. In 1953 the Department of Agriculture removed kudzu from their list of recommended plants. It was too late! Kudzu was wild and a nusence. In 1970 it was reclassified as a weed. In 1997 the USDA called kudzu a noxious weed.

Really crazy kudzu
Really crazy kudzu

Until our trip through North Carolina and southern Virginia, we didn’t see much kudzu. Here it is everywhere. It covers entire valleys, climbs up, and covers trees and telephone poles. Kudzu makes fences disappear and climbs up the sides of houses. It really is crazy kudzu. I don’t know why we didn’t notice kudzu further south, perhaps it was that we just didn’t notice. Another name for kudzu in the south is “death-vine” because when it runs wild, it kills every other plant.

Goats

The only non-toxic method to reclaim land destroyed by kudzu is goats or by digging it up. Every farmer knows that goats will eat anything and everything, kudzu included. Goats however quit eating at the surface of the ground and the kudzu will quickly come back. The only way to really kill it is to dig up the root.

Best kudzu photo
Best kudzu photo

Crazy kudzu is not the only or biggest problem.

Asian privet had invaded some 3.2 million acres—14 times kudzu’s territory. The big difference is that you can see kudzu right next to the road where it gets attention.

The furthest north southern state

Virginia is known as the furthest north southern state which applies to the southern Virginia area where we have been staying. The northeast part of Virginia is usually considered the furthest south northern state. We have no doubt that we are still in the south. My evaluation is that this area of Virginia is way more southern than two hours away in Raleigh North Carolina. In fact, we feel more southern influence here than we did anywhere in North Carolina or even Tennessee.

Kudzu Valley
Kudzu Valley

Still hot and muggy

As is typical anywhere in the south it has continued to be hot with only a few breaks in the weather. September is just around the corner. We departed the piedmont area and are back at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This has given us a few days of relief. The afternoon thunderstorms (nearly every day) also provide some heat relief. Our elevation change is only about five hundred feet and this makes a difference.

We turned north at Raleigh getting out a week before they had record heat. Then on the most southern roads of Virginia worked our way along the border to the west. All the cities we crossed in the last two weeks were small ones and they all had deep roots in the pre and post Civil War south. Had we been here two hundred years ago we would have had canoes on the Dan River as we crossed the area. It would have been a lot easier than hiking in the dense forest.

Dan River
Dan River

Tobacco

The area became a huge producer of tobacco products which dominated the farms until just recently and we have seen fields of tobacco still growing in the farms around the area. I find it interesting that we passed out of the tobacco area last week and are right now in an area mostly known for wood. Not lumber but rather hardwoods. The city just south of our camp is Bassett and the number one industry in Bassett is furniture. Sadly manufacturing in Bassett has moved to southeast Asia about fifteen years ago and the town still seems to be a little in shock.

Neighborhood

We have been hiding inside the RV with our air conditioner running nearly non-stop for the last week. We also stay inside during the thunderstorms. Today provided a break in the heat with the weather here being influenced by the hurricane in southern Florida. It is much cooler than yesterday. Overall the campground is nice and I have been using the time to backfill our campsite reviews. I didn’t anticipate how popular the campsite reviews were going to be. So far we have eighty-eighty campsites in the review section. Here is a link to our review map. Campsite Reviews

Afternoon Thunderstorm
Afternoon Thunderstorm

Our campground was nearly empty until Thursday and filled quickly for the weekend. We are a little different than most of our camper neighbors. We still get out first thing in the morning and then again at about sunset. But our neighbors are here to be outside all day and into the night. They have more of a weekend vacation feel to them. We still get surprised by the neighbors. Last night at about 9:30 we were surprised by a trombone.

7 thoughts on “Crazy Kudzu”

  1. Since I’ve been reading your podcasts I have come to realize how talented and interesting are your adventures and writing. Thanks for including me on your mailing list.

  2. My mom always told me about Kudzu she saw when rving in the 80s. Obviously, it is still a problem. Interesting that it was encouraged after the Dust Bowl. Thanks for your post!

  3. Hi there you two! It was last night- as I finally found my cargo bunk a possibility… when you crossed my mind. I had not heard from you, your blog in a while. OBI WAN and I are busy every day on one of our regulars, or new clients landscape doing my magic. Installing today and tomorrow a new tree to a restaurant owner’s homeland. Of course, it is a clay base. OMG, and the lawn is wonderful and dense. Good thing I sharpen my shovel on a grinding wheel (fine grit) or I would never finish even the 4 ft diameter circle I am cutting to accommodate the tree’s base root system and to protect the crowns -apron from lawn mower aggression. Kudzu. Yes. Mind-blowing and heartbreaking. I understand very well root and seed invasives. I tackle these in landscapes every day. Arduous time consuming, costly. To do it without poisons. A discussion and… show and tell session to grasp fully the magnitude.

  4. Kudzu, Sweet Tea, and Fireflies are staples of the south! You are informative and hilarious and I love your style!

  5. We always laugh about how different we are from the other campers… They’re all out there in the heat and the rain and the mosquito invasions and whatever else while we huddle inside trying to maintain our sanity. God bless em; they’ve got more patience for Mother Nature’s shenanigans than we do!! 🙂

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