Not all green initiatives brilliant

Grant McGee: Local columnist

One of the things I liked about our tour of the Southland The Lady of the House and I took last fall was I got to see an old friend of mine, kudzu.

Kudzu is a vigorous, big-leafed vine that can be seen all over the southeast United States. If it isn’t controlled it covers old fields, abandoned cars, runs up trees and has been known to swallow whole ghost towns in a green, leafy blanket. It won’t grow here on the High Plains because there’s not enough rain.

“I’d like to bring kudzu to Clovis,” I said to The Lady of the House as we drove along.
“If they found out who brought kudzu to Clovis they’d tar and feather you and run you of town,” she said, not looking up from her book.

I admire kudzu, I’m sure much to the consternation of agriculturalists who have labeled it a “pest weed.”

Long ago I even had a cat I named “Kudzu.” I’m a fan because it makes things green, it grows so fast and it’s so full of life.

Folks joke that all it takes to grow kudzu is to throw some shoots on some cinder blocks, water them, then stand back. Under ideal conditions the plant will advance a foot every 24 hours. Imagine that — a half-inch every hour! Makes me want to sit by it and watch it grow.
One spring I planted some kudzu roots and shoots around a trailer I was renting in Florida because there were no trees near the place. The idea was kudzu would cover the mobile home and keep things inside cool in the summer.

After a couple of weeks I had thick kudzu growth around the base of my place. But as I mentioned, I was a renter not an owner. One evening the landlord came a-poundin’ on the door.
“What you growing out here?” he said, pointing at my kudzu.


“That’s what I thought. What do you think you’re doing?”

“It’ll cover the trailer and I’ll stay cool this summer. It’s a natural way of cooling.”

He gave me a long look, kind of like he was trying to figure out how many marbles I’d started out with and how many I’d lost along the way.

“You ain’t from around here, are you?” he said. He told me the stuff had to be ripped up in a couple of days or I’d have to find another place to live. So ended “The Great Earth Friendly Kudzu Cooling Experiment.”

I was thinking with good watering I could use kudzu for a fence covering at the Stucco Hacienda in Clovis.

The hot High Plains winds would blow through my kudzu-filled fence and cool the back yard just a bit.

If my kudzu tried to wander away to any neighbor’s yard I’m sure it wouldn’t find things quite as nice and homey.

No, I won’t be importing kudzu to grow in my yard in Clovis. If it got out of hand, folks wouldn’t understand, kind of like Dr. Frankenstein and his “monster.”

“You wouldn’t like that, would you?” I asked The Lady of the House as we choogled through Tennessee.

“What,” she said, as she kept reading her book.

“Hundreds of Clovis folks standing outside our house at night with flaming stakes and pitchforks, yelling for the guy who brought in the plant that ate the town.”

She stopped reading and gave me The Look.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: