Monday, July 14, 2008

The Air Potato Vine at the Abandoned House

What you are seeing here is the Air Potato Vine. It is technically labelled an "invasive species" in Florida. The reality is that it's a curse.

Some idiot probably imported this to our state, too.

We are a state of many morons. This is seen through the massive Confederate Flag that is waving over the interstate in Tampa, the ballot problems in the Presidential elections (there are certainly more to come), and the politics and lack of education here. So, it's no surprise to know that over the many years that Florida has existed, many well-meaning morons have populated it.

Morons don't understand ecosystems. In the past, they've filled in valuable marshy areas to build shopping malls, banned car emissions testing (who cares? It'll probably blow to Mexico!), imported the obnoxious love bug, fire ants, the poisonous buffo toad, iguanas, and more. In fact, a couple of years ago, we ran across a cobra who had undoubtedly been in someone's private collection at one time. Whether it had been let go or simply escaped is inconsequential.

Additionally, you'll find the people who think they're doing us a favor by bringing in a "pretty ornamental" that will take over and destroy all the native wildlife. That includes the Brazilian Pepper Tree (our state fights an ongoing battle with this nuisance), the Kudzu Vine (which can grow up a tree and strangle it within days), and the Air Potato Vine.

The Air Potato Vine made it's debut in my backyard a couple of years ago. I had never seen one before, and I initially thought the leaves were quite pretty. They're big, beautiful heart-shaped leaves with tendrils that elegantly wind up anything and then strangle the life out of it.

Spraying the Air Potato with weed killer helps, but it doesn't solve the problem since it develops these big tubers that hang from it. When the tubers get so big that they can drop, they drop to where they can start yet another vine.

To add insult to injury, the potatos aren't even edible.

Eradicating the Air Potato has become a major concern for the state government. They've spent a fortune to do so, recently, and are now able to report success. They've used a combination of poison and ready volunteers, who hunt down every potato they can find.

I could use some of those volunteers.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been outside, poisoning the Air Potato vines with RoundUp. I hope it will work. Supposedly RoundUp screws with a plant's metabolism and kills it at the root... eventually.

But my additional problem is that there is a large abandoned house behind my property. I don't know why it's not for sale, and I don't know how to get in touch with the owners. That house has a massive swimming pool that is now a mucky greeny-brown, full of tadpoles and mosquito larvae. In addition, it houses a great deal of these Air Potatoes.

It's my fault, really.

The family behind me was a very nasty sort. They were the rough and tumble ruddy-faced, chain-smoking, hard drinking types. How they could afford a nice house was beyond my understanding. Even the 12 year old boy smoked and drank beer, throwing his beer bottles over the fence into my back yard to conceal his habit from his parents. When I finally went over to have a friendly chat with his mom about this habit, she got very angry about it and accused my neighbor, Mr. Clean, of doing it. It really boggled the mind.

So, when they suddenly left, I didn't mourn their loss. And when their Air Potato vines kept creeping into my yard, I'd throw the potatos back over the fence into theirs. I figured that they'd be maintaining their property until it sold and that they could take care of their own problem.

No such luck.

So, their Air Potato problem has become vastly worse. So have the mosquitos.

Today, it was time for action.

I purchased mosquito dunks (which float in the water and kill the larvae) and more RoundUp and went over there today. I threw 6 mosquito dunks into the swamp that used to be a swimming pool, and enjoyed watching the tadpoles for a little bit. Then I grabbed the RoundUp and attacked all the Air Potato vines.

It was carnage.

Now I sit back and wait. Hopefully the RoundUp will do what it needs to do, and I'll get a break from this Air Potato battle.

In the meantime, I wonder about something: What happened to my neighbors, and what could be lurking in the depths of that pool?


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

What a weird plant?

Great name though.

Ed Abbey said...

Just read something not to long ago about the mosquito problem in urban area caused by abandoned pools caused by the housing slump. Reading your problem verifies that what I read must be true.

Can you go to city hall and report a nusance to get action?

Also, the way I track down people is through the county assessors office. Almost all of them allow you to search by property address and it gives you the owners name. Tracking them down is a different story.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Gee, Kraut, you could have let me know you were writing a Spooker. Gave me the willies....

M@ said...

Can I get a cutting?

Uncle Joe said...

Tune in next week to "As The Swimming Pool Turns"

Three Score and Ten or more said...

I never saw an air potato,
Never hope to see one.

But if Saur has got some roundup,
I'd rather see than be one.

(All honor to whomever wrote the seed of the previous, speaking, I believe of purple cows.)

exMI said...

Go to walmart and buy 5 or six 25 cent goldfish and dump them in the pool. The will eat the mosquito larvae. Even better and cheaper is just go to any small stream or pond with a dip net and scoop out about 15 minnows and put them in the pool. It won't be long before there are hordes of mosquito eating fish swimming around.

doozie said...

you'll find out soon enough whats in the pool when the body decomposes enough to float to the top.

I have some common sense advice for your government, burn down the whole state and start over?

Fred said...

Saur..shameless promotion here...stop on over at my place and vote.

United We Lay said...

Here we would call the township about the abandoned house, but I don't remember what the equvalent is in FL. The mosqitos are a public house hazzard and the owner or the county has to do something about it. We called the local chapter of the EPA.

United We Lay said...

As for what happened to your neighbors - I woul dgo with the current housing crisis, and I would bet that the influx of "morons" will increase as more people lose their homes and have to go somewhere warm during the winter or die in the cold. Not all of thos epeople are stupid, but they do need somewhere to live.

CrazyCath said...

It is a little curious that the family have abandoned the home - wonder if they are in the pool? Yikes!

Horrible sounding plant. It's a shame us humans have to interfere with the natural state of things. As a child (in UK) I remember seeing red squirrels. If I coloured a picture of a squirrel, I would use brown and red crayons.

My children use grey. The red squirrel is now in danger of being totally eradicated in this country. All because some one thought it was a good idea to bring grey squirrels in. And they eat everything the red squirrel needs. So they can't survive.

Truly sad. I have not seen a red squirrel for over two decades (although they still are around, they are just not so abundant that they could be spotted regularly any more.)

michelle said...

I posted on sweet n saur. I have no clue how to take out "the classroom" from the side bar. HELP. It has been a while.

michelle said...

ps, add anyone on the sidebar you want. i am a bit rusty.

Bee Repartee said...

Probably more air potatoes and beer bottles? ;o)

Great pics on the plant. I've never heard of them. The leaves are quite beautiful. Reminds me of the numnuts who lived next to us that planted blackberry bushes when I lived in So. Oregon. He might as well have planted dandelions, too.

mal said...

neighbors, you gotta love 'em' I think, even if some days you are certain the gene pool needs weeding too.

Around here, abandoned properties end up getting handled by the city and the amount is added to whatever is owed on the property tax. It helps

doozie said...

where the heck are yoU?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I'm learning what we need to eradicate from our riverbank here in Melbourne, FL. I'm also learn what we need to add.
john yoepp

Anonymous said...

The reason they're such a problem is because they don't have any predators here. I'm researching this right now. Does anyone know why and how it was brought over?

Greg said...

I live outside of Miami and have the air potato problem on 1/2 acre of my land - during the winter I picked up and dug up more than 5 full 65 gallon garbage cans full of the potatos - and thought I took care of the problem. Spring came and the vines took over once again - so thick you would never know I had disposed of all those potato's. This problem is here to stay!

Robert said...

Back in the Seventies, my grandmother used to grow those vines on a trellis in front of her front porch. The attractive heart-shaped leaves helped shade the porch from the hot afternoon sun. The potatoes were big as tennis balls and grew up and down the vine at various leaf axils. The vine was easy to control due to the large size of the potatoes. In the fall, she'd pick about a half dozen of them and save them to replant the following spring. The vine and the rest of the potatoes would be cut down and thrown away. A few years ago, I saw an air potato vine at a friend's house. The leaves were smaller and the potatoes were about the size of my thumbnail. I picked a pocketful and planted them to grow on the wrought iron railings on my front porch. Over the years, the plant has invaded my front yard and is difficult to get rid of because of the tiny size of the potatoes - there's so many of them, and they're difficult to see once they fall on the ground. Pulling the vines up by the root doesn't work, since the plants snap off at the ground, leaving the roots behind. They have to be dug out of the ground with a trowel. Roundup works, but you have to keep reapplying it. For those of you who are curious about growing the vine, if you must have it, make sure you stay with the kind that grows LARGE potatoes - they'll be easier to control.

Aimee Byron said...

I got them. Trying a recipe a friend told me about. One gallon vinegar, half cup table salt, one tablespoon dish detergent. She says it kills everything, but someone told me the Air Potato Vine is a losing battle. God, I hope she is wrong!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to get rid of potato vines they are invading my back yard can some one help me to get rid of of this wild thing.