Japanese Knotweed - Lime Bars and Native Mason Bee Housing - A Primer on this Ubiquitous Weed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed Lime Bars

Japanese Knotweed utilized as part of a Mason Bee House

I just love utilizing invasive non-native plants.  I can feel good about harvesting them because I know it helps other plants that are native and/or not invasive by keeping down the growth and spread of the invasive AND I know I won't hurt the plant's ability to survive (try as I might). In some instances, like Garlic Mustard, you just can't eradicate it even if you want to.

Up Close

It's that time of year when Japanese Knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum sends up it's new stalks from the Earth.  These can be eaten like Asparagus, though they also work well in deserts, and have a lemony type flavor, as we shall see...
The roots are used medicinally and are called Hu Zhang in TCM; they have been used for an assortment of issues such as cancer, cystitis, Lyme, and traumatic injury (see a qualified practitioner for this).

To make this delectable desert:

Harvest the stalks before they have done much leafing out, remove any leaves and the very top where the leaves are forming (these can be added to an omelette or the like); chop the remaining stalks up into small pieces.  You want about 4 cups of chopped stalks, a little more or less is fine.

Leaves and tops to use for another dish.

Chopping into small pieces.

Splitting the larger ones lengthwise before chopping.

Preheat oven to 350.  For the bottom layer:  melt a stick of butter in an 8" x 8" pan, once melted mix directly in the pan with the butter:  one cup of whole wheat pastry flour and one cup of raw cane sugar.  I like to use all organic ingredients so I'm not ingesting pesticides or contributing to their being sprayed on farms and poisoning the water and land (along with the food).  Mash this dough evenly into the bottom of the pan covering the entire bottom.  Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool so it hardens.

The top layer mixed and ready to pour onto bottom layer.

In the meantime, make your top layer:  mix 3 eggs, 1 c. raw cane sugar, 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 c. lime (or lemon) juice until well blended then stir in the chopped stalks.  Pour this over the cooled bottom layer and spread evenly.  Bake one hour, turning oven to 400 for last 15 minutes.  Make sure the topping is set up; it might need a little longer cook time. 


If you build it they will come:  the Mason Bee House on the art studio, L'Atelier.  Netting is to keep birds out.

A...n...d....  another use for those stalks after they die back in the fall (they persist through winter so you can harvest them right up into early Spring) is housing for Mason bees.  These solitary bees nest in tubes, whether that be hollow plant stalks, holes beetles have drilled in trees, or anything similar such as holes we drill or tubes we put out.  They live for 6 weeks in the Springtime right at the moment fruit trees bloom.   
***If you have fruit trees, you want these bees on your property.***  They are easy to care for and do a better job with fruit trees than honeybees because of how they gather nectar.

Drilling the starter holes in 7" pieces of Fir 4" x 4", then on to using a hand-held drill to finish them.

Mason bee cocoons gifted from a friend, thanks Laura!  Males on left, Females on right.

Mason Bee cocoon, they hatch from the nipple end, so this needs to face out if placed in a tube.

Here is a great book if you want to learn more.  Here is one of many houses you can purchase for them.
If you want to make your own, they prefer 5/16th size holes 6" deep (don't use pressure treated wood).  And of course, if you have access to a stand of Japanese Knotweed (bamboo also can work well), you can harvest your own as I did (seen collected in the 4 black pots in above picture of large Mason bee house).

A simple, smaller house can be made too, such as this one upper left.



Telling the Truth through Rorschach Collage

"Pay heed to the tales of old wives. It may well be that they alone keep in memory what it was once needful for the wise to know." - J.R.R. Tolkien

'Cosmic Mitosis' 2015

"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

'From Dust, To Dust' 2015

 “You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.” - Beverly Rubic

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake." - Francis Bacon 



"Let the Beauty You Love Be What You Do." - Rumi

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, 
for going out, I found, was really going in.” - ​John Muir

The front yard at sunset a couple nights ago.  Major seeding happening in the greenhouse to the right today.

 “Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” -
​ ​
Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

Today's Infusion:  Hawthorn flower and leaf, Nettles, Hibiscus, Raspberry, Mulberry, and Sarsaparilla.

"​Close some doors. 
Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they no longer lead somewhere." 
- ​Paulo Coelho

Down the road from my house on the way to spend the day at the tattoo shop yesterday:  a gaggle of Vultures.  I did not see anything dead; there were just as many in the trees.  I take it as a sign from a totem of mine.  Their scientific name is apt:    Cathartes aura, meaning 'Golden Purifier."  Their medicine totem is very powerful.  They create life from death. Their riding of the thermals gives vision to the wind.  Graceful creatures, with little fear, doing what needs to be done and sustaining themselves from it - and in so doing supporting health for ALL.  <3

 I saw Grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out, “It tastes sweet, doesn’t it?” 
“You have caught me,” Grief answered, “and you’ve ruined my business. 
How can I sell sorrow, when you know its blessings?”
- Rumi


"Why then have to be human?
Oh, not because happiness exists,
Nor out of curiosity...

But because being here means so much;
Because everything here,
Vanishing so quickly, seems to need us,
And strangely keeps calling to us...
To have been
Here once, completely, even if only once,
To have been at one with the earth -
This is beyond undoing."

– Rainer Maria Rilke