There are so manny varieties of bamboo, that i do not know what too choose. I will describe the site and what we want and maybe a bamboo expert can help us to the right species.
- central portugal, USDA zone 9. The summers get really hot and dry (30-40 C). We can get a few frosts during winter to -2C.
- the soil is heavy and clay-ish, poor drainage. The soil gets boggy in winter and becomes verry hard in summer. We would like to create a lake in that area so it would be possible to keep the soil moist troughout the year.
- edible and tasty bamboo.
- We do not want to install a root barrier. It can be spreading or clumping, as long it can be controlled by eating enough shoots.
- We are not so picky about the size, can be giant or small, but higher then 2m.
Most bamboo likes more moisture than the average Mediterranean climate provides, and it likes it best in the summer (i.e. a monsoon climate) rather than the winter. That said you can turn the problem into a solution by planting the bamboo in a moist niche, such as a greywater site or near an irrigation outlet, and the roots won't be able to spread far into the surrounding dry soil. I would not plant any bamboo where it is frequently soggy, even in the winter, unless perhaps it's mounded slightly.
You might like to start to contact the different nurseries in your region to find out what they sell and what they recommend based on your situation.
Hopefully, they will be helpful. Plus, if they give you some recommendations, you can do further research on the Internet.
Once you find the varieties that you desire, you do want to be sure you can actually buy it/them. Sometimes we buy trees not because they are the "perfect" variety, but because they are the best we can actually buy.
I just planted bamboo a few days ago. Free bamboo is seems to be the best bamboo, in my area. It is imported and over priced at my local nurseries (Copperhill tn zone 7a) , and there is usually a neighbor willing to allow you to trim and propagate from their own crop. I am growing the non-clumping variety, and decided to plant them under a black walnut tree. The clumping variety is to be more expensive and promoted as more aesthetic. The soil I’m planting in is moist and rich and it came from dry clay soil. I assume the transplants will take.
Most bamboo shoots are harvested from "timber" bamboos, these are from 3 to 8 inches in diameter and up to 30-40 feet tall when mature.
The new growth is harvested when below 2 feet high (new shoots of these varieties can grow over a foot a day).
I like bamboo, I've worked at some very wealthy people's houses here in CT. Some have walking paths through bamboo gardens. Always liked this, but it is listed as an evasive species in some states. It takes over everything and let's nothing else grow. Would love to have a bamboo walking path. I guess the lesson here is look up what you can bring into an area?
I live in a similar region as you. I planted Golden Goddess bamboo this past summer. It's a clumping variety so hopefully it will stay at home on the reservation and not run wild across the yard. I've got it in a little spot between the sidewalk and the street, hard up against my neighbor's driveway. It's at least 5 feet of concrete before the next available dirt. I doubt that the runners will ever go that far.
Even if you plant a clumping variety, it will spread slowly over the years. Don't plant it up against a fence line where it will creep under the fence and pop-up in a neighbor's yard in 2 years.
Our garbage company uses those really big rolling cans. The trucks come along and scoop them up curbside with a big mechanical arm. The cans are about 50 or 60 gallons --- quite large. The tops are about 36 inches square, while the bottom tappers down to about 25 inches square. I've wondered about taking one of those garbage cans, cutting off the bottom (or drill holes in it for drainage), digging a deep hole in the ground and burying one of those garbage cans in the ground with about a 3 inch lip still showing above ground. Backfill the dirt into the can, and then plant the bamboo inside. The bamboo would never escape that way --- thick plastic walls. But the drawback is that it would quickly become root bound and it wouldn't get much water that way -- you'd need to run a hose to it regularly.
Anyhow, whatever you end up doing, best of luck. Here is a link for Golden Goddess. Monrovia has a nice selection of bamboos.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
For those who want bamboo but don't want to watch it spread over a large area, just plant it in pots, these need to be large enough for what ever species you plant.
I like to use Rubber Animal Water Troughs, these come is various sizes and are easy to set up for proper drainage with just a drill and drill bit, they can be sunk into the ground too so you don't have to worry about wind blow down.
I am about to purchase a five gallon Tonkin bamboo that will be grown in a 100 gallon trough. I want to be able to grow my own for making bamboo fly rods.
Clumping bamboo will normally expand about a foot per full year of growth, Running bamboos can spread two feet per year and literally expand to 50 feet from the parent plant in only four years.
I've seen some of the timber bamboos spread over an acre (208' by 208') in less than seven years. ( have a friend that grows several species in a 10 acre bamboo farm, these culms are harvested for flute making).
One of the coolest things about bamboo to me is that it takes four years for a bamboo to fully mature but only one season for a sprout to reach full height and size.
Are there any varieties of bamboo that are absolutely not edible? As in toxic? I bought and planted a bamboo from a local nursery. Nobody (including the nursery man) knows what variety it is. I know the cow mowed it down a couple times already with no apparent ill effects.
Golden bamboo is not considered toxic to humans or animals, but the shoots do contain cyanide, a toxic poison, and not recommended for consumption according to the University of Connecticut's College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.
Nandina bushes, also referred to as heavenly bamboo, contain cyanide-producing berries that are bright red in color and toxic to birds. Monkeys and panda bears consume bamboo in the wild, and their bodies are able to naturally break down the cyanide and render it harmless.
Most bamboo leaves are poisonous to humans and most animals.
This link is for more information on this trait of true bamboos, there are many misnamed (common name) plants (lucky bamboo as example) and not related to true bamboos.
Wow Redhawk, thanks for the info. I had planned to use the bamboo as animal fodder, I had never heard it was toxic. Many plants containing cyanide can be made edible by cooking - cassavas come to mind. Is the same true for bamboo? This bamboo has a yellowish stem with green vertical stripes, don't know if that can help with identifying. Its still quite small, having been "pruned" back by the cow a couple times.
Only new shoots for eating is a good rule to live by for bamboo.
even the new shoots are cooked once before eating.
Cows, being ruminants, have shown an ability to convert cyanide internally, so if they are eating that bamboo, most likely it won't harm them.
Once a new shoot has been growing long enough to have some leaves start to separate from the core they are too woody to be used as food by humans.
Once you harvest a shoot you need to blanch it for around 10 minutes then you peel off the outer layer(s) to get to the core (the actual grass stalk) this is what you slice into thin strips and will be consuming as a food.
I would like to plant bamboo in 55 gallon drums.
I turn them into sub irrigated planters, great for for consistent moisture and liquid fertilizing(pee).
Would this be good for growing bamboo in?
I would sink them half way into the ground,or stake them, for stability.
Those would work great William, In two public gardens we did that exact same planting technique, be sure to leave around 12 inches of barrel height above the soil level so you can trim any rhizomes that grow up out of the soil to spread the bamboo.
We sank the barrels so only 8 inches was out of the ground (done for the landscaping continuity) Those barrels are sill there, growing bamboo 40 years later.
The ones we used were Black Plastic, Acetic acid barrels, we rinsed them out with a pressure washer after pouring any leftovers we could save in one gallon milk jugs.
Since the Acetic acid was 56% I ended up using it in my lab.
That's perfect! I really could use the cover that bamboo can provide, without letting it spread.
Sounds like it can survive containers without getting root bound.
Any advice on harvesting the canes?
I am inclined to take them from the root, or as close to it as I can get,to leave space for new canes.
a culm (cane) needs four years to be mature, it is at that time you want to harvest since this is when the lignin and cellulose are strongest and cure as they dry into very hard matrixes.
I like to take the entire culm (root of the stalk up) this does indeed leave space for new growth.
Running bamboo will send rhizomes out from the plant and these will grow up and over the rim of the container, this makes it easy to cut these off to prevent spreading where you don't want it.
The cut rhizomes can then be planted in new containers and will produce more bamboo where you set the container.