complete newbie interested in useful bamboo

cousinfloydJanuary 27, 2013

My question may be too broad to answer here, but maybe you all can point me to some useful information for beginners. How can the kinds of bamboo that would grow well in zone 7 North Carolina find low-tech uses on a small farm/homestead? I've wondered about garden stakes, maybe fencing applications, basketry, livestock fodder, various small construction uses... I have read some overview articles, but I'd like to take the next step and hear from people that are actually growing bamboo for their own uses (and which particular species are suitable for which uses). Thanks!

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Bamboo can become a very useful and sustainable asset on a farm. For garden stakes I recommend Japanese arrow bamboo or Pseudosasa japonica. It is cold hardy to -10F and it's mature cane diameter is about .8 inches. It will grow to an average height of 15ft and creates a great thick windbreak. Slightly slower spreader then other bamboos too so it makes it easier to control.

For larger applications like to replace split rail fences I would suggest one of the timber bamboos in the Phyllostachys genus. Phyllostachys edulis or Moso Bamboo is one of the most widely used bamboos in the world for it's strength and size. It is also the most commonly eaten bamboo shoot. Moso can reach a height of 70ft but normally tops out around 40-50ft. It's canes will reach a diameter of between 4-7 inches at maturity and is hardy down to 0F. This type of timber bamboo can be used in a wide assortment of applications in farm life and fresh shoots can also be sold for extra income at farm markets.

For more information on bamboo farming and tips on planting bamboo please visit the website provided.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bamboo Farming Usa

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:33PM
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NJ, thanks very much for the advice. The particulars are always helpful as a starting point, and I'll definitely look into them further. I also heard from someone else that recommended a book, The Craft and Art of Bamboo, which I should be able to pick up from the library tomorrow. Thanks again, Eric

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:41AM
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Depends on your goals. Moso is useful for lumber and building, dulcis is best for its shoots, rubromarginata is good for flutes, henon is good for weaving, aureo is good for fishpoles, bissetii is good for screening, and fargesias are good for a small clumping bamboo in limited space.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:55AM
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So how is bamboo used for timber anyway? Bamboo is always hollow, right? Are the walls of timber type bamboo just thick enough to cut boards from? A neighbor friend has a sawmill and has cut boards for me from regular wood before? Do you just get narrow strips from timber bamboo, though? I can't imagine how to get something squared from a hollow tube unless the walls are really thick and the hollow is very small. Has anyone here ever had timber bamboo sawed (or however else it's processed) into lumber?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:09PM
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I think they have Machines that cut the bamboos up into strip, heat them up, and then mold them into boards for flooring or other things.

The hollow tubes themselves can be used for many things from fences to crafts.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:02PM
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There are many different uses for bamboo too many to mention. I love bamboo so any bamboo you plant will have different uses. I mostly use it for landscaping purposes. I have 36 different species. Here's a link that might be useful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gabelmans Gardens

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:08PM
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Where would you all recommend I go to find more in depth information on all the (very helpful -- thank you) things you've told me, particularly the utilitarian, non-ornamental uses of bamboo? Are there any good online publications, like extension PDF's? Books that are practically oriented? Do you think the Book of Bamboo by Farrelly would have the kind of information I'm looking for? Thank you,

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:28PM
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Books won't really get you all the information you need to help you decide on growing a bamboo. What part of NC are you from?

I know that there are some bamboo collectors all throughout your State and I think you can probably learn everything you need if you can get in touch with a local bamboo collector. You can also get the divisions before shooting season starts which should be in about another month for you.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 6:16PM
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Thanks for asking. I'm on the western side of the Piedmont in north Iredell County, in between Yadkinville, Mocksville, Statesville, and Elkin. I just harvested bamboo for the first time this week from a neighbor (that I used to build a leaf mold bin -- I enjoyed the whole process and it seems like such useful stuff), but unfortunately the neighbor that planted it just died and the widow doesn't really know much about it. I don't even feel ready to plant any yet. I don't really even know how to divide it. I don't know enough about how to control it. I want to know how to eradicate it before I plant it, just in case I ever want to get rid of it (or get rid of it in that place or replace it with a different species, etc.) I don't know exactly what part to eat, when to harvest it, or how to prepare it. I'd like to know more about the different species before I decide which one(s) to plant. It just seems like there are all sorts of basics I ought to learn still before I'll be prepared to visit an experienced grower without asking way too much of his time.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:39PM
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It sounds like you have a major bamboo collector right in your neighborhood in Boonville NC. I gave you the link to his farm which has his contact information in case you want to get in touch. He has many mature groves of bamboo on his farm.

Bamboo is pretty easy to eradicate, especially in open spaces. One thing about bamboo is that it has an energy cycle where most of the energy is in the culms right after a strong shooting season, and if all of them are cut down, the rhizomes have very little energy to re-sprout. Once there is not enough energy to produce shoots, the rhizomes will rot away. You can harvest culms with a commercial 3 inch lopper or reciprocating saw. The shoots are also supposed to be harvested when they are barely out of the ground in the spring. You might also find more help on the other bamboo forum

As far as choosing a species, it might be best to look at the groves yourself and see what type you want. You definitely have a lot of choices in your climate.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to bamboo grower in Boonville

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 1:57AM
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salt and pepper shakers

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 11:29PM
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