Bamboo

We became very interested in growing bamboo about 3 months ago, so I have been doing some research and I will share what I have learned with you. People tell me bamboo "takes over" and can pierce through and destroy pavement, foundations, and ultimately, western civilization. They call these people 'Bambusaphobes.'  At the other extreme are people who plant any bamboo they can get anywhere. These people are bamboo nuts. None the less, despite its reputation, bamboo is not conquering the world. I have never heard a person who complained about how difficult bamboo was to destroy, admit to knowing the first thing about eating bamboo. There are 70 genera and 2400 known species. It can grow in height anywhere from 2 inches to 100 feet. The culms (or canes) can be black, blue, yellow or green. It is very disease and pest resistant. While it is not very commonly grown in the states, it is a staple of existence in other parts of the world. Bamboo is both decorative and useful. In many parts of the world it is the primary building material and used for making great variety of useful objects from kitchen tools, to paper to dinner. All bamboos are edible. Look for a variety called Phyllostachys, they are the best for eating as the shoots are the largest. Phyllostachys dulci (also called Sweetshoot Bamboo) is the best tasting with a mild nutty sweet taste and no bitterness. There is one species of bamboo that is native to North America, its called Switch Cane Bamboo and grows in the Southeast part of the country. Bamboo is giant grass. It grows in a lot of different climates. Some types are classified as runners and other types are classified as clumpers. Generally, the tropical bamboos tend to be clumpers and the temperate bamboos tend to be runners. Like many grasses, it self-propagates by spreading underground, or "running." The culms (the above ground stems) in a grove are all connected by a network of rhizomes (the underground stems), and the grove acts more like a single plant than many separate ones. Unlike other grasses, however, bamboo plants rarely produce seeds. If they do, it may be at intervals of 15 to 60 years or more, and the plants often die after seeding. Interestingly, all plantings of some species seed at the same time, no matter where on the earth they grow.

Most running bamboos are invasive. Their rhizomes can grow as much as 5 ft. in a year, and a healthy, uncontained grove may double its root area every year. Clump forming bamboos do not spread as runners do, but multiply upon themselves. Creating a clump of roots which does not become invasive. Originating in the mountains of China, the Fargesias are the hardiest of all the bamboos remaining evergreen throughout the winter months and tolerating temperatures to -25°F. Bamboos are tough plants. They'll tolerate almost any type of soil unless it's waterlogged. Slopes don't bother them. They like sun, but will grow in shade, though not as big. Bamboos are reported to prefer sandy loam soil and moist air. Most bamboos do their best with a humus rich mulch. Extreme hard pan conditions may mean that a bamboo will not root deeply enough and may uproot with storm or ice. Most bamboos prefer well-drained soil - some can tolerate a fairly high watertable. Most prefer acid soil. To deepen the soil profile and improve water retention and rooting, you should till aged manure or compost in, and/or dig a trench and put waste wood in, cover it back up, and plant the bamboo above. Bamboo can, and in fact, loves to root into rotting wood. In one case of bamboo crossed a stream by sending a runner through a log bridge. Don't fertilize the first season unless you are growing in a very infertile soil, and then with only slow release materials. Nitrogen uptake will increase water uptake, which makes it easier for the cells to freeze: this means you can decrease the hardiness of a bamboo by trying to pamper it. Once your bamboo has been through its first winter, then you may start adding high nitrogen materials in the spring. Water is critical the first year, and 1 inch per week is a good standard rough guide. Bamboo can stand flooding, and a low earth berm around a planting area to retain water can be helpful especially in clay soils or on slopes: the dam allows the water to stand and soak in rather than run off. Bamboo will also follow water in a dry area, and will tend to grow into an area watered by a soaker hose or drip system. The best soaker hose is the black type made of old tires. Whether you buy mail-order or divide an existing clump, the procedure for planting is the same. Ideally, the larger the clump of bamboo transplanted, the faster the new grove will develop. To divide bamboo, take the clump from the edge of an existing grove in spring before shoots appear. Use a very sharp spade to cut straight down in a ring around the clump, being sure to cut through the two or more tough, woody rhizomes connecting it to the rest of the grove. Bamboo is shallow-rooting, so after cutting around the clump you can pry it up and out like a cork from a bottle. When transplanting, it is crucial to keep the plant from drying out. So give the roots a good soaking the day before digging.

A solid barrier wall in the ground completely surrounding the grove is the simplest and surest way to contain running bamboos. Make barriers from rolls of thin fiberglass sheet, normally used to cover greenhouses. Ultimately no method may be really foolproof. Bamboo runners are very pointed, and actually moisten the ground ahead of themselves for better penetration. Runners can slip through narrow cracks or pierce through plastic pots and weed barriers. Concrete slab -patio, sidewalk, or what-have-you, is just a convenient covered highway to spots where the shoots can pop up unannounced. There are some situations where bamboo will not be a problem. It won't cross permanent water, nor will it manage to invade a pasture where animals are kept. A well-used, compacted road will also stop bamboo. To harvest a bamboo shoot, dig down next to it to where the shoot begins to narrow near its connection with the rhizome, and cut it off. They are most tender and tasty when about 6 inch high, and because they grow so fast, one day can make big difference in palatability. Any dish is suitable for bamboo shoots: stir fry, casseroles, soups, seafood, or salad. The underground rhizomes are edible as well.

The Soul of Bamboo by Earle Barnhart “Many Chinese poets who have lived with bamboo intimately have attributed to it near-human qualities - in my reading of bamboo lore, I keep coming across references to sages whose greatest pleasure was to stand in the bamboo garden and listen to the sound of snow and wind in the bamboo. I know that my life has been changed in many subtle ways by learning about the habits and cultivation of bamboo. Often now, on a snowy or breezy night, I find myself going out into the bamboo grove, and listening. Sure enough, you can hear it, every time. In light breezes, there is a soft rustling. And in snowfall, there is the gentlest of tinkling as ten thousand tiny ice crystals bounce down from leaf to leaf.”

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Aphids

Affects a range of plants. Sap is sucked from leaves causing them to yellow. Predator Insects : Ladybugs, spiders, syrphid flies, lacewings

Natural Insecticides: Safer's soap, nicotine, pyrethrum, sabadilla, summer horticultural spray oil.

* Make your own soap spray by adding a few drops of liquid soap to a gallon of water.

* Place aluminum foil on the ground under young plants.

* Use yellow containers of soapy water as traps.

* Use yellow sticky traps.

* Use row covers.

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Plant...

Leeks to deter carrot flies, strawberries

Onion to deter Colorado beetle and carrot flies

Radish to deter cucumber beetle, root flies, vine borers, and many other pests

Petunias to repel Mexican bean beetle, potato bug, and squash bug

Catnip to deters ants, aphids, Colorado beetles, darkling beetles, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and weevils.

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Herbs that attract hummingbirds are bee balm (monarda), pineapple sage, nasturtium, and scarlet sage salvia.

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Herbs

Curry Plant

sow in poor soil in a sunny, well drained position, protected from frost and cold winds in winter. Divide plants in spring, take cuttings from side shoots in summer, or sow under plastic in spring. Trim off flowering stems as these detract from the foliage, but never cut into old wood.  Also called everlasting flower and helichrysum.

Hops

grow from cuttings or divisions from the base of the plant in spring or sow seeds in late summer and autumn in a cold frame. Plant in rich, moist soil in full sun or light shade, and grow up sturdy tall supports. Mulch in spring with rotted manure, thin young shoots to 5-6 per crown and water freely in dry weather.

(Perforate or Common) St John’s Wort

grow in sun or light shade in well drained soil. Divide roots in spring, take cuttings in summer, or sow springs in trays in spring. Plant in autumn or spring, and prune damaged stems after frosts.

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Brandie

“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”

 

 

 
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