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Seeking advice from bamboo experts  RSS feed

 
Posts: 7
Location: Polop, Spain
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Hello Permies,

I am looking for some advice for a very specific idea that I have. I have this unused concrete water channel bordering my land which is about 30cm wide by 30cm deep and I would like to fill it up with soil and see if I can grow a fast creeping bamboo in it like in a giant planter. In my idea it would create some kind of hedge after a while. I was wondering if someone could recommend full sun dry and hot climate (but I'll supply constant drip irrigation) bamboo varieties with erect shape and max 3-4m height. Bonus if the canes are straight and resistant and the shoots edible.

It might be a 5 legged sheep I am looking for...

Cheers
 
Posts: 5
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From what you've described, I'd advise against it.

I grow Bambusa oldhammii, B. textilis (Gracilis), and a few B. multiplex (silverstripe, alphonse karr).

All boos will have a listed maximum height, which assumes ideal conditions, with qualifiers around your climate - so for B. oldhammii f.e. it's meant to get up to about 17 metres, but I should expect in my climate (9b, ~600mm annual rainfall, temps up to 45C during summer) about 75% of that.

On the upside, while these things are not happy if they don't get much water during summer, they will survive, as they've got fantastic root systems.  You say you'll irrigate, but I'd suggest if that fails and you get a row of hot days, you may end up with an unhappy fire hazard.

Also with only 30cm or less of soil, the things are going to be heavily stunted / dwarfed -- nearly impossible to estimate heights, but more importantly means they'll likely blow out of your channel during even a mild wind.

Could I suggest instead that you find a clumping bamboo you like - right height, tolerates your climate, edible - and plant that at the appropriate spacing (depends if you want a screen - say 800-1000mm spacing - or for harvesting - maybe 3-4 metre spacing) in open ground.

Gracilis is edible, very upright, looks good.  Might be too tall for your liking, but you can trim the culms to the right height -- this is a regular, non-trivial task though.    B.multiplex has been very tolerant, not sure how edible it would be (very narrow shoots, so it'd be fiddly to harvest and prepare, in any case).  B.oldhammii is one of the best in terms of size, use (edible, construction) but depending how well you look after it, it'll likely be 6-15 metres tall.

There's lots of boo matrix / recommendation sites out there to find the climate / function / size / form that you're looking for.     The big thing I'd suggest is to avoid running bamboos entirely, and just look at clumpers -- much much easier to maintain.
 
Sebastien Duclert
Posts: 7
Location: Polop, Spain
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Hi Jedd,

Thanks for the detailed reply and the species advice. I did think that the channel would be a bit shallow. I'll look at clumpers again and see if I can find the species you mention. I guess I can put smaller plants in the channel or maybe just get rid of it but that would be a piece of work.
Would you be able to recommend some of these online matrix you were talking about?

Thanks,

Sebastien
 
Jedd Rashbrooke
Posts: 5
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Hi Sebastien,

Been a while since I did some real boo research -- I had the luxury 15 years or so ago of having a set of constraints that made selection pretty straightforward.  I also got a lot of good information and advice from a local bamboo nursery owner - here in Australia we only have a few people specialising in propagating bamboo, and they're all well informed and very helpful.

I've just done a web search on "bamboo species selector" and found a few pages, some of which are a little basic, and likely reflect the species that can grow near that particular nursery.    So I'd suggest finding a local nursery that specialises in bamboo and having a chat with them.

Sites like:   http://www.bamboo.org/BambooSourceList/BambooSelector.php   ; and  https://www.bambooweb.info/SSL.php  ; let you put in a bunch of features & constraints but they can't catch everything.

I'd strongly recommend avoiding running bamboo, but then you're still got considerations around edible, timber/structural, upright/weeping, windbreak (leafiness in the lower parts), culm thickness, height, how much effort you're willing to put in to clearing out old culms, whether you're happy to prune the tops a couple of times a year to control height, soil type, rainfall / irrigation options, CZ & HZ, whether it needs a temperate zone for the winter dormancy, hedging / animal exclusion, aesthetics ... and probably a bunch more.   If you get your list of preferences for each of these aspects, a bamboo expert can give you a shortlist.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1448
Location: northern California
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In my experience the fear around the running bamboos is overrated.  All of the new shoots come up in a particular season, usually spring or the onset of rains.  Depending on the species and the situation, these can be gathered to eat, trampled over, mown, grazed off, and you're done for that year.  Plus they need water, and so in a dry climate they're not likely to run far from their water source anyway.  In your case I think you've got basically a container anyway, possibly with cracks, or perhaps in some spots it's mulched over enough for runners to find their way out....but you are in a Mediterranean climate, and most bamboos are from a wetter climate, so the water issue should suffice to keep it from going very far.
 
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