Why do we do it? October 28, 2015

I’ve been reading a lot recently from businessmen and women trying to explain why they… ‘do what they do’. Much of what is written suggests high and mighty principles of ‘I do it for my children’ or ‘I do it for world peace’.

All decry any possible financial motive for their efforts as if making money were in fact a dirty obsession to be frowned upon and kept in the closet….

Well let me for one go on record to say – I did it for the fast cars and the loose women.

Actually that’s not quite true – there’s only one loose woman in my life and I married her.

So it was for the fast cars …

Truth be told I attended a seminar when I was about 26 which suggested that you write a list of what you wanted to achieve with your life – you were to keep this list and repeat it as a mantra each night before bed.

My list was based on a series of cars that I aspired to – when writing the list I was driving a Vauxhall Astra 1.3 Jubilee edition in burgundy…which I hated with a passion. At the time I really wanted a SAAB ….so first car on the piece of paper was a SAAB 900 ‘i’

Next was a 900 Turbo

Then a 900 Turbo S

Then a 900 Turbo S Convertible

Then for a joke …I added a Porsche

My business partner at the time thought this was a humorous idea but went along with it for a joke but on his list after the 900 Turbo S he added a picture of a bus instead of a Porsche.

I’m sure you’ve all jumped ahead of me to realise that he was very accurate in forecasting his own future.

Since completing my first list I’ve added and amended my aims and ambitions and still go to bed repeating the mantra of where I’m trying to get to.

I’ve had my ups and downs with business and by no means would I suggest that simply writing a list will help you achieve anything without hard work…but at least having something to aim for helps you focus.

However….I may not have helped world peace or saved any children along the way …

Mike C

Dodgy deals, done cheap October 22, 2015

It’s only a matter of time till someone sets up a company that ‘disguises’ Japanese Knotweed in houses that are to be sold.

I can see the adverts now…

‘….we will cover up your knotweed so nobody can tell you’ve got it so you can sell your house knotweed ‘free’ …*’

‘*NB we guarantee that we will want ‘cash’ and won’t be paying any VAT or declaring any accounts this year or ever’…

Currently as a vendor you will be asked whether you have any Japanese Knotweed on your property. Whilst it may be down to the surveyor to spot the tell-tale signs of an infestation – the person selling the property must declare whether they were aware of any issues. If you declare knowledge of the troublesome plant then there will be a cost implication.

As the vendor you will either have to have carried out a treatment programme with a warranty included …or you will be asked to pay for this as part of your house sale. Failure to go along with this request will either mean a large chunk of money being knocked of the sale price or the house sale falling through.

So it stands to reason that where there is money to be made then somebody will come up with a dodgy way round the problem.

Currently I’m imagining:

….or you could be even more stupid and employ a damp proof contractor to carry out your removal works.

For correct advice and a non-dodgy service contact Japanese Knotweed Solutions.

Mad Max* October 21, 2015

My name is Max, I am the road warrior. I am a lone survivor of the forces of law and order that were destroyed with everything else in the ‘pocalypse’.

I wander across the barren landscape looking …looking for what – I can’t remember.

Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months – each moment just an endless battle to survive. A battle to survive in a world with no hope. My life ended in engine noise and pain when my family were taken from me in a senseless moment of destruction days before the world ceased to function.

The world began to implode when the black crude began to run out.

Nation fought nation until only the few remained alive . Those that did survive battled over the last remnants of a world depleted of all its natural resources. The ones that remain have adapted to the conditions and live a feral existence where warlords hold claim to vast tracts of land guarded by half human creatures with no interest in anything other than killing whatever they find.

Some attempt at normality exists where groups have gathered who try and impose order amidst the arid waste. Farming is attempted against all odds – with acres of brown dried stems attempting to mature into a crop worth collecting. Pigs have thrived for some reason and are used for meat and the production of methane in an attempt to produce power from waste.

Amidst all the death and destruction one small finger of hope pushes its way through the crumbled dust of the ancient cities as the weeds begin to take hold. Rubble and steel collapse leaving harsh reminder of the once masterful human race – but now an army of green has begun to take back the land once covered in black tar.

The most successful of the invaders are the Japanese knotweeds – so famed for their beauty in years gone by – then almost annihilated during the first purge of 2015 – when they were blamed for damage and destruction to property values.

The knotweeds survived through the nuclear holocaust instigated by the Volkswagen Group as part of their cover up of diesel exhaust emissions. World destruction was deemed preferable to Germany having to admit to actually not being cleverer than their neighbours.

As the Road Warrior I now drive a modified Shelby 500 Mustang – this being the only vehicle that wasn’t lying about its emissions.

I did try a ‘Tesla’ but found once the world ended – re charging points were a little hard to find.

Mike C – after watching ‘Mad Max : Fury Road.

NB definitely not Max Wade

Landfull October 20, 2015

I’m guessing that in the near future we won’t have ‘landfill sites’ any more, they will all be ‘Land –full sites’. It’s only a matter of common sense that if you keep filling holes with rubbish, then eventually there won’t be any ground left to fill?

I’m reminded of scenes from the Sopranos when the waggons of waste are diverted into a local reservoir, or scenes from the Simpsons when Homers plans to upgrade the bin collection service runs into trouble when waste pumped into caves erupts on the golf course.

People often ask me – ‘when the Japanese Knotweed is taken off site to landfill – what do they do with it?’

Well…it’s not ‘rocket science’ – they just dig a big hole and put the waste into it. Nothing glamorous, nothing clever, no nuclear proof thick walls of concrete…just a big hole. In fact landfill sites are often rife with Japanese knotweed where casual tipping has left areas of infested material unburied.

Now correct me if I’m wrong here but there are only so many ‘big holes’ that can be filled before the entire world just becomes one big landfill site. I can remember two sites local to me in Glossop where there were huge landfill sites – now these areas are grassed over and grazed by cattle. Another one in Buxton is now a golf course – where previously seagulls flocked and large machines moved piles of rubbish around – there is now an amenity area capped with soil and heavily used for recreation.

Now I’m assuming that somewhere somebody will have a record of this and future generations will be aware that they cannot dig into or develop on these areas? ….

I’m foreseeing a patchwork of landfill sites all over the UK like a giant jig saw….THAT EVENTUALLY LEAVES NO SPACE FOR ANYTHING…

Here at Japanese Knotweed Solutions we explore every avenue BEFORE we suggest using a Landfill facility –

Don’t get me wrong here; occasionally there is nothing else we can do other than remove to landfill. Site development might not fit with the proposed alternative option and often build timescales just don’t allow the lengthy period required for chemical treatment.

More and more now we see development being maximised on site due to the need to build as many properties as possible – this results in minimal land left for burial of waste on site meaning that excavation to off-site facility is the only answer.

Screening of material is often recommended as a way of reducing the amount of material taken off site to landfill – however the screened material cannot be taken off site as ‘knotweed free’. Once separated the resulting screened soil should ideally be buried beneath a capping layer and monitored. This relies on having space available for this part of the process… and with current build densities being so high this is often not feasible.

Changes in legislation will I’m sure eventually lead to a refusal to accept Japanese Knotweed at landfill sites …and I’m sure this is on the current horizon. Companies building new houses will have to be creative with how they deal with contaminated land and be fully up to speed with ALL strategies available to them for dealing with Japanese Knotweed.

Japanese Knotweed Solutions will continue to be the best service provider in the industry and continue to make sure our clients always get the best advice and the most viable options. If land-fill sites are ‘landfull’ we will have all the alternative strategies on hand to ensure you hit your build target.


Mike C

Why we should love invasive species. Or not. October 20, 2015

There is a trendy argument doing the rounds – possibly based on a certain recent book about why invader species could be nature’s salvation. I haven’t read the book, and I won’t name the author, or criticise it – because the argument put forward is no doubt more nuanced than portrayed in the headlines.

However, I have come across people genuinely arguing that ‘invasive species represent evolution’, that they are ‘better suited to the habitat than native species’ and have read headlines that suggest that we should learn to embrace all invasive non-native species.

It is these ideas that I am looking to challenge – particularly with regard to invasive plants.

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between native- and non-native invasive species. Our native invasive plants (like bindweed, bramble, nettles and bracken) are very well adapted to the conditions that they live in, having developed traits which make them successful in our environment.

Although they are often hard to get rid of, tend to crowd out or strangle other plants and to form monoculture stands, they also generally support a variety of insect, bird and/or animal species which have evolved alongside them, providing food, or habitat, or both.

Non-native invasive plants have evolved to be successful in their native environments – but in most cases, they are not successful enough to become invasive in their native range. They are just one plant among many others, competing to survive under pressure from competition and more significantly from predation by insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses which exist in the environment they evolved in.

Once the plants are introduced to a new environment, they are often removed from the pressures of the predators in their native habitat, they effectively have a head-start on all the other plants around them. Native insects, animals and birds are rarely adapted to the habitats the plants provide and (as is the case with species like rhododendron), the plant soon becomes the only living thing in the area.

Of course, there are exceptions; in fact, many non-native species are affected by similar parasites to those found in their native range – which is a reason why they don’t go on to become invasive. Some of our native fauna can interact even with the most invasive of alien species – bees love Himalayan balsam, for example. Of course, this works in the plant’s favour – as without effective pollination to produce its seeds, this annual plant could not survive.

In the very long term, however, parasites will evolve to predate Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam, and it’s conceivable that they could return to being very niche plants, rather than the widespread invaders that they are today.

Introducing non-native species is not evolution as we know it – and evolution will eventually catch up with these species – but in the meantime, the majority of them offer our native fauna little or nothing that isn’t already available from native plants, and they compete with our native flora to the point where valuable habitats and biodiversity are lost, as well as knock-on and trickle down effects on our waterways, embankments and things like flooding.

To argue that we should embrace the grey squirrel is not something I would particularly disagree with – although I wouldn’t oppose conservation efforts for red squirrels.

Humans (and probably pretty much everything else in the British eco-system) can probably adapt to what is essentially the like-for-like swap of one squirrel species for another. An evolutionary niche has been filled, and things are more-or-less as they were before.

That may or may not be the case for things like signal crayfish, and killer shrimp, which are able to predate on different species to their closest native relations. However, in these cases, it’s still conceivable that the food chain would be kept more-or-less in-tact – with predators and prey of the substitute species remaining in a position where they can all eventually develop and maintain fairly stable populations.

However, for for zebra mussels or quagga mussels, which are capable of multiplying prodigiously, occupying large amounts of space and surface area and removing significant amounts of food which would otherwise have been available to a wide range of other species, we see a more problematic set of circumstances.

These circumstances are further enhanced where plant species are concerned, when physical space (soil) becomes the prime factor for competition. Invasive plant species are not “filling an ecological niche” by outperforming a single equivalent species; they are directly competing for space with all sorts of different native plants –which often have complicated interlocking relationships with the wider ecosystem. In this case, the successful invaders are often basically destroying habitats in favour of a monoculture which provide no food or shelter for native species.

Other native insects and animals further up the chain who relied on the aforementioned species are displaced, and the effect on the wider ecosystem is significant.

So when I see simplistic arguments (especially when they say invasive species are good) I am immediately sceptical. While humans may well be able to adapt in limited, short-term ways, we are heavily reliant on our existing ecosystem, and it’s a bit of a push to expect UK wildlife to undergo millions of years of evolution because of human activity – and it’s completely ignoring the issue of biodiversity loss, which is the principal problem with the most problematic invaders…

Chris Oliver
Operation Manager – JKSL

Autumn is here October 20, 2015

We’ve seen Japanese knotweed flourishing across the country with lush green heart shape leaves and small white flowers, it’s no wonder the Victorians were a fan.

The days are now beginning to shorten and the air is that little crisper in the morning. We can feel the changes in the season; autumn is here. It isn’t just us that can feel the change of season, Japanese knotweed is noticing too.

As we move into the cooler autumn months something is happening to Japanese knotweed as it prepares for the dormant period ahead. Energy that the plant has converted through photosynthesis is drawn down and stored deep in the rhizome system of the plant, ready for a growth spurt the following spring.

By applying folia herbicide treatment now we can hijack the plants own biological system to draw the chemical deep into the rhizome network. The translocation of herbicide deep into rhizome will have a big impact on the plant and its viability next year.

Don’t leave it till next year, start herbicide treatments now and get the plant to do the hard work for you.


Stuart Morris
Surveyor – JKSL

Japanese Knotweed ….S O L U T I O N S LTD October 14, 2015

I spend much of my time travelling the UK talking, giving presentations and educating people in the mysteries of ‘invasive non-native species’. I probably give on average a lecture once a week to broad ranging groups such as house builders, local authorities, fishing clubs and anyone else who has an interest in ‘alien’ species.

My presentation is NOT a big ‘sales pitch’ but more of a factual journey through the problems caused and the various means of dealing with these problem plants. It doesn’t feature slides saying …’only use Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd as we are the UK Number 1’

HOWEVER, I am coming to realise that by my very lack of slick sales techniques I am massively shooting myself in the foot.

I presented to a large construction company a few years ago and gave what I thought was a well -received presentation which ended with hands being shaken and comments of ‘we look forward to working with you’…

I have done this many times before and therefore didn’t worry when no work was immediately forthcoming, or even when a few months later we still hadn’t heard anything. However 12 months down the line I thought it best to shake the tree a little and see the client again. I chased my contact and made an appointment to go in and see her again.

On arriving in her office and after pleasantries had been exchanged I asked whether any works were to be coming our way – she asked as to where we were up to with the large project that she had recommended us for….at which point I advised that we had heard nothing from the company since my presentation 12 months ago?!

She quickly made an internal call and asked her construction director to come up to her office – two minutes later we had the answer to the confusion – he had contacted a company called ‘Japanese Knotweed …… Ltd’ and NOT…. Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd. He had even asked for me by name but had been told that I was currently ‘out of the office’. The bogus company had then visited site, given a price and been awarded the works….all on the basis of my ‘wonderful presentation and depth of knowledge’….

To rub salt in the wounds ….later in the same month  – we were put on ‘stop’ by a supplier for unpaid bills …which… given that we hadn’t used them before was a little surprising. On chasing this up we discovered that the unpaid bills belonged to ‘Japanese Knotweed……LTD’ and NOT ‘Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd’


I give up.

Mike C

Dream body October 7, 2015

I’ve reached the ripe old age of 54 and realised that I need to take better care of my body and get my life in order.

So I’ve recently joined a gym and am punishing my body with gruelling reps of weights, sit ups, crunches and star jumps.

I’ve sorted my diet and have given up cheese and all dairy products. I’ve also given up alcohol and now perceive my body to be a temple which should be worshipped by only feeding raw and natural foods.

Chocolate and sweet things have been given over to be replaced by carrot pieces and cucumber sliced in a tempting chunky way.

I’ve also realised that the best thing in my life is my wife. I no longer look at other women …ever. Movie stars and film heroines mean nothing to me anymore – I am a one woman man and temptation will no longer be something for me to struggle with.

Technology and gadgets will no longer be part of my life. I’m downsizing all my electronic wizardry and taking on a more monk like existence – zen like calm will be the rule whilst I contemplate the more simple life.

Cars….so long a major part of my life are now perceived as a complete waste of money. Surely anything with four wheels and the ability to get you from A to B will suffice. Public transport for me from now on.

All this has resulted in significant weight loss and a calmer more peaceful take on life. I’m invigorated, my libido has returned and each day I awake full of the joys of living in this beautiful world.

Note : Those of you that know me will realise that this is actually a dream sequence similar to that experienced by Bobby Ewing during his return to Dallas.

This dream occurred after I had eaten a large chunk of Stilton cheese, drunk a bottle of red followed by a half bottle of Saki then a glass of aged Japanese whisky …chomping through a box of Thorntons chocolates whilst watching Avengers age of Ultron on my huge Bang and Olufsen TV pausing and rewinding the film backwards and forwards to see Scarlett Johansen bouncing and running in high def.

Now where are the keys to the Aston.

Mike C