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Clumping Bamboo

 
Paula Edwards
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While running bamboos are often more of a nuisance, clumping bamboo is a well behaved plant.
It would solve a whole lot of garden problems for me: First it seems to grow really fast into a usable windbreak, second leaves of some varieties can be used as lifestock fodder (but I don't know if you can harvest them in winter), you can eat the shoots and it provides garden stakes and building materials.
The garden stakes you harvest your own are so much better, because I always left some centimetres of the side shoots and beans and peas find it a lot easier to climb on them.
Does anyone has experience with the fodder aspect?
And how fast do they really grow?
There is a great book "bamboo rediscovered"
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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I myself have considered putting in some clumping bamboo  as well..we sure have the room for it..but haven't decided exactly where to put it..i am thinking if we put in a flowing well to our pond that on the overflow area would be a good spot..
 
                        
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
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I have never fed bamboo to livestock before, it's a good idea.  I do know that bamboo is pretty poor nutritionally and should probably be used as a supplemental feed at most.  Bamboo can widely vary in growing habit and growth rate depending on the variety so where you should plant it and how fast it will grow will be different from species to species.  Some varieties are suited to nearly full shade and grow rather slowly and others, like timber bamboo, fill the role of over-story trees, need a lot of light and can grow nearly a foot a day.  The bigger ones tend to be runners.  Also, most if not all of the edible bamboo's are of the running variety because you don't get the same formation or the shoot in the clumping forms and even if you did you couldn't harvest them properly because they would be in/attached to the clump.

hope this helps, cheers
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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bamboo is by far my favorite plant (my first craft medium as a flute-maker)
and i wouldnt discourage growing any form of it really. but you need to look at your goals.

from what i've read and been told by growers ,there can be some downsides to clumpers. most  won't  grow in cold temperate regions, the ones that do tend to be small or not vigorous.

since i live in a small suburban residential area i dont try growing any on my plot. luckily there are very well established groves in parks and along roadsides all over here so plenty to harvest when i need it

here is one growers experience with them.i met this guy at a bamboo conference in miami way back when. good people'.
  http://www.lewisbamboo.com/Bamboo_location_zones.html
 
Paula Edwards
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Victor Cusack in "bamboo rediscovered" writers about the variety Bambusa venticrosa, or Budda's Belly that the leaves are a high protein fodder. The variety seems to survive -9°C.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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I read Bambusa tuldoides 'Ventricosa' is not frost tolerant.
 
                    
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A friend living on the Georgia-Florida border has Buddha's belly - it routinely goes down to 20 F there, and it is doing fine ... it can tolerate a bit of frost.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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Are there other bamboos useable as high protein fodder? There are quite many sorts of really frost tolerant bamboos, down to -25℃, who clump and grow up to 7 meters high, like Phyllostachys aureosulcata.
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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Dunkelheit wrote:
There are quite many sorts of really frost tolerant bamboos, down to -25℃, who clump and grow up to 7 meters high, like Phyllostachys aureosulcata.


that's yellow groove and it's a runner not a clumper. that and Aurea (golden bamboo) are the most common species in USA, i think they were the first to be brought over? (to NC?)
makes great flutes
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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You're right, my book says they're runners, too. Never thought of them to be runners because their sprouts are quite short. They don't go crazy in my garden.
 
Matthew Fallon
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Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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one sweet thing about clumpers,
i've read you can propagate them by just dropping a culm where you want it.

Bamboo culms can be pulled down to the ground and covered with soil and mulch and new plants will form at the nodes
 
Paula Edwards
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As for frost hardiness the clumping varieties are more tropical, but there are some (enough choice!) which can take up to minus 12 °C.Unfortunately, bamboo are relatively expensive, but the advantage is, of you sell some of these plants you get more than usually.
 
                                          
Posts: 59
Location: N.W. Arizona
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I use an unknown varity that I bought a sample of from an acquantience.  I dug a pit down to hardpan....about 16 inches, 12 ft long and 6 wide.  In this I buried the washing machine drain with a constant slope on 1 1/2" pipe with control vlaves in buckets and terminated at each end of the pit in a gravel filled bucket.  I backfilled with ABS gravel and covered with soil scoped to the edges to hold water
All my wash water goes into the pit and the babboo flurishes.  We make our own laundry detergent from veggie oil and pottasium hydrauxide....no phospates or sodium.  Now that the stand is well established I feed pieces to the goats.  They eat the leaves and tops of the cane and leave me with six foot or so garden stakes.  This spring I will try shoots in stir fry.  The stand also shades my above ground root storage, which is an old meat delivery van box, from the afternoon sun. 
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 301
Location: Upstate SC
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I've been growing bamboo on my farm for years for use as wind breaks, summer shade, winter fodder, poles for the vegetable garden, and edible spring shoots.  All of my bamboos are running bamboo.  I control their invasiveness by planting them in the middle of the pastures.  The core bamboo grove is protected by a fence that is closed during the shooting season to keep the livestock from eating the spring shoots.  Any shoots coming up outside the fence are eaten by the livestock and limits its spread.  In late winter when the pastures (consisting mostly of warm season grasses) have been eaten down, I thin out the canes and leave them where the livestock can clean off the leaves.  In the spring I will use these cut canes for pea and bean trellises.  Once the shooting season is past, I open the fence protecting the grove so the livestock can use the grove for summer shade and in the winter they use it as a place to escape the winds.  The bamboos growing in the pastures are Phyllostachys makinoi, P. rubromarginata, P. edulis, and P. aurea koi.  Since the groves are popular night roosts for the local birds, they import nutrients into my pastures in the form of their droppings.

I have a smaller bamboo, Hibanobambusa tranquillans, growing on the back side of the dam of my pond where it strengthens and stabilizes the dam, making it harder for muskrats to dig holes through it.  This bamboo gets 12 feet high and in late winter I let the livestock browse it to supplement their pasture graze.  This bamboo shades out and keeps tree seedling from growing on the dam.  It is small enough to be easily cleared when I need to do maintenance on the dam.  I have a smaller ground cover bamboo growing on the pond side of the dam where it protects the dam from wave erosion.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 301
Location: Upstate SC
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As far as their growth rate, the new shoots pop out of the ground and reach their full height in two months.  Each year's shoots are about 1/3 taller than the preceding year's shoots until the grove approaches the full potential height of its species.  Running bamboos can only send up shoots to a distance a little farther from the grove than the canes in the grove are high.  If all the shoots coming up inside this radius are removed (harvested, grazed, or cut), then the bamboo can't grow its rhizomes beyond this radius.  A running bamboo also can't cross a regularly used gravel roadbed or permanently water saturated soil (except for the swamp bamboos, Phyllostachys heteroclada or Arundinaria tecta).
 
Paula Edwards
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That's interesting, I could then use running types in a paddock for animals as it might grow quicker than the clumping ones in cool climate. And there are even bamboos who are growing in a swamp!
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 301
Location: Upstate SC
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The large tropical clumping bamboos are just as fast growing as running bamboos, but all of the cold hardy clumpers are slower growing plants adapted for growing in the shade of a forest canopy. 

As long as you allow the running bamboo grove to have a safe area where the livestock can't eat its shoots during the 1 to 2 month spring shooting season, it can thrive in the middle of a pasture.  You'll need to keep the livestock totally fenced out of the newly established grove for the first 4 or so years until the new shoots coming up are large and tall enough that the livestock can't reach most of the leaves and can't ride them down to reach the leaves above their reach.  The bamboo grove feeds the livestock with leaves from the canes cut in winter for use as garden poles at a time of the year when the grass isn't growing.  In the spring, it feeds the livestock with shoots coming up in the pasture outside of the fenced off area (some of the shoots coming up inside the fenced area can be harvested for the kitchen).  During the non-shooting times of the year when the livestock is allowed access to the interior of the grove, it provides shade in the summer and in the winter provides shelter from the wind and a place that holds in the heat at night.  The livestock fertilizes the grove with their droppings when they are hanging out in the grove and these nutrients go to feed the bamboo as it produces shoots in the pastures outside of the grove, leaves for browse, shoots for the table, and poles for the garden (which can eventually be composted to add nutrients to the garden. 

It helps to break the livestock worm cycle in that any worm eggs in the droppings deposited in the grove don't get back into the livestock, while the nutrients from those droppings get recycled back to the livestock via the bamboo plant.  The livestock don't graze in the grove and any browsing they might do is well above the height that the worm larvae can reach on the bamboo.  Meanwhile the bamboo plant is transporting the nutrients out into the pasture where it is trying to grow the shoots that the livestock are eating while leaving the worms behind in the grove.

Most running bamboos won't tolerate growing in permanently saturated soil, but those two species of swamp bamboo can grow in up to a few inches of water. 
 
                                      
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Basjoos,
  I'm intrigued by your bamboo feeding experiences.  What type/how many animals are you feeding?  I live in a cold, snowy part of the world, and I've been trying to come up with plants I can graze into the winter even when it snows a fair amount.  Bamboo has my attention as a potential crop at this moment, I'm currently planning on trying out Phyllostachus bissetii, P. nuda, and Arundinaria gigantea.  I need something that can take some cold and stand up through the snow while my cows munch on it. 

  I don't expect any of them to get tall, and I envision using them as a grazing season extender so it's fine with me if the plants only get 6 feet tall when cold arrives.  I wonder how strongly the shoots would come back in the spring if all the above ground parts are eaten/frosted off every year.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 301
Location: Upstate SC
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Right now,all I am feeding are 30 sheep, but I plan to get a couple of heifers whis spring.  The guy I got some of my bamboo from used to feed his thinnings to his cows and said that the cattle would come running whenever he fired up his chain saw in the bamboo grove.  In China, bamboo is considered a superior food for horses.  Bamboo can grow fine as a dieback perennial, reaching about 1/3 to 1/2 of its ultimate height if not cut back down.  The sheep eat most of the leaves (leaving the stems) off my Hibanobambusa each winter and it has reached 10 ft of its potential 16 ft height so far.
 
Michael Martin
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I have seen cattle in Hawaii bypass pasture grasses and even sugar cane to stretch their necks over a fence to nibble on bamboo leaves...

The new leaves of some bamboo species are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a tonic for the elderly. Bamboos are silica accumulators, and the silicic acid in the plant has been shown to have positive health benefits.
 
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