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Bamboo for Hugelkultur?

 
Doc Jones
Posts: 31
Location: Buhl, Idaho
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Hi Folks,

I've just been reading a bit about hugelkultur. Interesting idea.

I live in the cold desert of Southern Idaho. Wood is a much scarcer commodity here than in Eastern climes and seems more valuable for heating than for burying in a garden bed. So I got to thinking.

I wonder if bamboo would work in the Hugel beds the same way that wood does. Bamboo can grow really quickly and produce a lot of "woody" biomass in a short time.

Thoughts?

Doc
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Hi Doc
Great idea of using what you have. I see that bamboo is not terribly rot resistant which is good. You may have to add a considerable amount to equate to logs.
If your in dry desert you might want to try the opposite, instead of a mound above ground dig a mulch pit which will tend to hold moisture much better and aid decomposition.

 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Idaho is not exactly the climate for bamboo. There are some bamboos that can take the cold, but the combination of cold and dry is going to make it difficult to grow a good crop.

But I wonder if another, similar grassy plant would work for you -- Arundo donax. I've seen large stands of it on the north coast of the Black Sea (Ukraine), which is about the same latitude and climate as parts of Idaho.

You may want to check with the state agriculture folks though. It is considered an invasive species in some areas. I know that it is not welcome in Southern California, as it has taken over some of the natural watercourses there.
 
Michael Martin
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There are bamboos that will grow in Idaho. Phyllostachys bambusoides and Ph. vivax are two of the largest for biomass purposes; they can quickly reach 60' under good conditions with culm diameters of 5 to 6".

The fibers (not technically wood) of bamboo are loaded with silica (bamboos in general are silica accumulators) and carbohydrate. There are special mushroom species that are grown on bamboo waste in China - I believe a bamboo hugelkultur would be an ideal habitat for many species of basidiomycetes. A stand of Phyllostachys can be established in 5 years under good conditions, and lives almost indefinitely (unless they flower, which tends to happen on a multi decades internal clock) By thinning the grove of over-mature canes in their fourth season, you would have a perennial source of hugel material, plus building poles, fence material, garden stakes, musical instruments, edible shoots, and medicines. Plus erosion control, and mulch.
 
Dan Tutor
Posts: 103
Location: Zone 5, Maine Coast
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Michael Martin wrote:

There are bamboos that will grow in Idaho. Phyllostachys bambusoides and Ph. vivax are two of the largest for biomass purposes; they can quickly reach 60' under good conditions with culm diameters of 5 to 6".

The fibers (not technically wood) of bamboo are loaded with silica (bamboos in general are silica accumulators) and carbohydrate. There are special mushroom species that are grown on bamboo waste in China - I believe a bamboo hugelkultur would be an ideal habitat for many species of basidiomycetes. A stand of Phyllostachys can be established in 5 years under good conditions, and lives almost indefinitely (unless they flower, which tends to happen on a multi decades internal clock) By thinning the grove of over-mature canes in their fourth season, you would have a perennial source of hugel material, plus building poles, fence material, garden stakes, musical instruments, edible shoots, and medicines. Plus erosion control, and mulch.


I'm afraid p. Bambusoides (hardy to 5f) and p. Vivax (hardy to -5f) would not be very hardy in a lot of regions of Idaho. Wind is especially tough on bamboo, so if you have a cold windy season, make sure you provide some protection.
I'm trying to grow p. Nudum for small timber purposes in Maine, it should be considerably more hardy (-15f), but has smaller culms of 1-2".
Should work great in a hugul once the biomass is there.
 
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