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Bamboo in the Permaculture food forest

 
pollinator
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How do you guys feel about bamboo in your gardens? Do you like it, do you hate it, or you afraid of what it can do? Well here’s a little video I made today.  I’m still working on my videography skills but for anybody that didn’t know I thought I would share this here thank you for giving me the opportunity to share here with like-minded folk.
 
pollinator
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Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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I'm a big fan of running bamboo because I have a one-acre suburban property with high privacy needs and I have the ability to keep it under control with mowing and digging (also I have a lot of shade and established tree root systems that limit its spread).  It'd be different if I had a large property with great soil and grasslands.  I use it along my creek, as a windbreak, and for privacy.  Still establishing itself, so far so good.  I think bamboo is the best choice in my climate for thin yet dense privacy hedges, along with erosion control.
 
D. Nelson
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I know where there's some Phyllostachys macrophylla or big leaf bamboo in town. I already have permission to go get some. I've just been too busy lately..
 
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I've got 3 cold hardy varieties planted on my property.  I've had them for several years now.  I don't remember exactly how long, in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 years.  None of them are dead, but they aren't really establishing themselves either.  I still have hopes they will settle in, be happy and start growing.  I may try transplanting some next spring to another area of the property to see if it will do better, or really do anything.
 
D. Nelson
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David Huang wrote:I've got 3 cold hardy varieties planted on my property.  I've had them for several years now.  I don't remember exactly how long, in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 years.  None of them are dead, but they aren't really establishing themselves either.  I still have hopes they will settle in, be happy and start growing.  I may try transplanting some next spring to another area of the property to see if it will do better, or really do anything.


Have you amended with lime and are they getting enough water?
 
David Huang
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I have not amended with lime.  I didn't know that might help.  I'll try that on one to see if it makes a difference.  

I don't water any of them, but live in MI where we get a respectable amount of rain/snow each year.  They are also all located where the roots wouldn't have to go down too deep to reach water.  I'm actually in the low area for my immediate region which results in flooding often enough after a heavy rain storm.  In fact, I was worried about too much water when I first planted them so two are planted on short mounds so their immediate roots wouldn't be sitting in standing water in the spring.
 
pollinator
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Bamboo seems to come in 2 types. Dying, perhaps very very slowly... or exploding where.

The former is annoying.. the latter is open to interpretation. Perhaps if one is happy rephrasing the thread title slightly to 'permaculture in the bamboo forest', it would be appealing!

I have enough invasives, I don't want to take a risk like that any time soon!
 
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I cannot wait to have enough space to have bamboo. I could use so much of it, but I also know its potential enough to respect its ability to take over the whole place. Not til the right time. (also we eat a heck of a lot of bamboo. October-ish, my family is obsessed with hunting for bamboo shoots after the spring rains. This was a crummy year, but there is always next year!)
 
D. Nelson
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David Huang wrote:I have not amended with lime.  I didn't know that might help.  I'll try that on one to see if it makes a difference.  

I don't water any of them, but live in MI where we get a respectable amount of rain/snow each year.  They are also all located where the roots wouldn't have to go down too deep to reach water.  I'm actually in the low area for my immediate region which results in flooding often enough after a heavy rain storm.  In fact, I was worried about too much water when I first planted them so two are planted on short mounds so their immediate roots wouldn't be sitting in standing water in the spring.


Bamboo likes water. Yes you see it high in the mountains of China but it prefers moist to wet conditions like in Southeast Asia .
 
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I am considering putting a small island of bamboo in the middle of an 18ft x 16ft pond to contain its spread. Anyone have experience doing so?
 
D. Nelson
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Ben Zumeta wrote:I am considering putting a small island of bamboo in the middle of an 18ft x 16ft pond to contain its spread. Anyone have experience doing so?


I have a pond with a little island in the middle I thought about planting some bamboo on as well. I am quite certain it will keep it contained.
 
D. Nelson
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Anyone know what variety this is?
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D. Nelson
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Bamboo trail.
In the Bamboo forest
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I have some growing on me, but I am not a big fan of it. It does not seem to grow anywhere meaningful on its own, and then just runs crazy once it gets established. There are no known uses for it that I can think of, at least not here with what we have for varieties. I would be afraid it would run amuck if I did not try and control it.

It mows nice, I will give it that. (LOL)
 
pollinator
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I (finally) drew a plan of my garden and looks like I'd have a place for bamboo in my "food forest". It would actually be a long, narrow line of "zone 4", which goes along a wall. The coldest and darkest part of the garden, grass currently disappeared under moss. What grows there already: mulberry (but smaller than in other, sunnier and warmer places), maple, bird cherry, magnolia, rhododendron, ivy on the wall, wild strawberries. What I would add: apricot, nectarine, blueberry, currant, fig (maybe fig later, when the "forest" is more established, as now the ground is not very covered and it might be too cold).

I like that bamboo shoots are edible. And it looks pretty. And I make fences everywhere, to keep dogs away from food crops, so bamboo would be perfect for that. But I don't know how will it grow along with these other plants?
 
D. Nelson
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Flora Eerschay wrote:I (finally) drew a plan of my garden and looks like I'd have a place for bamboo in my "food forest". It would actually be a long, narrow line of "zone 4", which goes along a wall. The coldest and darkest part of the garden, grass currently disappeared under moss. What grows there already: mulberry (but smaller than in other, sunnier and warmer places), maple, bird cherry, magnolia, rhododendron, ivy on the wall, wild strawberries. What I would add: apricot, nectarine, blueberry, currant, fig (maybe fig later, when the "forest" is more established, as now the ground is not very covered and it might be too cold).

I like that bamboo shoots are edible. And it looks pretty. And I make fences everywhere, to keep dogs away from food crops, so bamboo would be perfect for that. But I don't know how will it grow along with these other plants?



Maybe consider clumping and ground cover varieties first. The other types including Sweet Shoot are runner types. When you plant them just remember that whichever way the branches are growing is predominately the direction that the rhizomes will grow, unless they hit an obstruction under the soil which may deflect the direction of the rhizomes.
 
pollinator
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I LOVE bamboo. I have one stand of clumping style bamboo that produces culms 2" - 2 1/2' in diameter, and around 20' -30' high. The early shoots were only 1" in diameter, but as the plant got established, the diameter increased. Another stand of clumping bamboo is a different variety and produces 1" diameter culms that go around 10' high. I also have access to other bamboos that are not on my property, and I harvest from them about once a year as I need more bamboo.

My farm not only has food producing plants, but also resource plants. Bamboo is a useful resource plant. Yes, it's in my food forest areas. What have I used it for?
... Door handles, such as for cabinets and closets
... Cup to hold toothbrushes in the bathroom
... Yard art
... Garden trellises
... Sheep hurdles
... Garden fencing
... Removable protectors against cutworms
... Furniture
... Disposable food container for when we go on a picnic. It's throwaway biodegradable.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:I have some growing on me, but I am not a big fan of it. It does not seem to grow anywhere meaningful on its own, and then just runs crazy once it gets established. There are no known uses for it that I can think of, at least not here with what we have for varieties. I would be afraid it would run amuck if I did not try and control it.

It mows nice, I will give it that. (LOL)



Just a guess, but are you perhaps talking about Japanese Knotweed, Reynoutria japonica, Travis?  That one is quite the survivor/spreader.  If not I'm super curious as I haven't seen any true bamboo growing in Maine outside a few people's gardens.  I'm growing P. nuda in my forest garden and in the 8-10 years that I've had it it's only spread a little on me.  With the warmer winters lately it seems to be spreading better, but I still haven't eaten it yet as it needs a bit more strength, I think.  Maybe next spring I'll grab a shoot.  I'll give it a bit of wood ash as well (thank you for that tip D!).
 
Flora Eerschay
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Are they all edible?

I found two available here: Sasaella ramosa / Pleioblastus vagans (ground cover variety) and Fargesia jiuzhaigou 'Genf' (clumping variety, medium sized).

And I love this video of Liziqi preparing bamboo for food:



These are huge, too big for my garden obviously... but it looks so amazing! And apparently she has winter there, so maybe climate not so different? Here winters are much milder than they used to be, we're having the first snow right now. It will probably disappear. 4-5 years ago we had a lot of snow for a week or two, maybe even a month, now it's only a few days but there are also days of strong frost without snow. Normally, there should be snow and frozen ground for 3 months. But yesterday I was digging in the garden to create a new spot for carrots and parsley, and the soil was super soft.
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