I have been looking for discussion of bamboo, to me one of the most renewable and versatile plants ever. I look up a new use for it a few times a week.
Now before I start preaching, I just started my bamboo this year. It will take five to six years to get mature bamboo but I cant wait. I live near Chicago so i needed a hardy bamboo for zone 6. The eventual height of my bamboo is suppose to be 26 feet, more under ideal conditions. The thickness of the bamboo will be 2.5 to three inches in diameter at the base.
What is bamboo used for....well everything, today I looked up how to use as a roofing material, it can be used both as a thatch for the room or much like a tile use with each shoot cut in half. Earlier in the week, I looked up weaving with bamboo. This is some of the applications I have found.
Fences, both as a pole in the ground and as a woven privacy fence.
Stakes for veggies or to protect young trees from wind damage
The Japanese traditionally used it in all areas of construction including the support structures. I understand the traditional japanese temple is torn down every twenty years and rebuilt...not sure about the necessity of it but I think may be it is necessary as the structures are quite tall.
You can eat bamboo shoots...not sure about other foods
used to make plates and chop sticks
Can be woven for baskets
sewn together for screens
Bamboo water fountains are beautiful
I am not writing a research paper...these are just the off the top of my head. The plant matures in 6 years and is very renewable. I would like to encourage anyone to grow some, a stand need not be very big...although for most varieties it takes a bit to keep it from spreading too far. After harvesting, you stand it on end for some months to make it hardened off. Often harvested bamboo is treated to discourage fungi.
The first reason I started growing bamboo was as shade for my southwest wall....In just five years I expect shade, it will take a lot longer for the maple tree I planted to start shading.
Not all bamboos are good for each purpose, My shade bamboo is hollow it really wouldnt make for a good flooring plant but the solid bamboos would not make for good roof tile...although i imagine you could make some shakes with them. Although I could split the bamboo and use it for weaving, I am going to get a smaller bamboo for this...the stems get just 1/4 inch diameter and they make a wonderful weeping plant.
I have several bamboo groves on my property. They supply edible shoots in the spring, poles for the garden and other uses, shade and shelter for my chickens and sheep, and fodder for my sheep in the winter after the pasture grasses have been eaten down. On the dam, ground cover bamboos provide erosion control on the lake side, taller bamboos provide the same service on the downhill side while their dense rhizome network ties the dam down and makes it harder for muskrats to tunnel into the dam.