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Bamboo looks like it would be useful around the homestead and in the garden.Anyone have any experience with it,what kind is best,growing conditions and any uses you know of?



I have a girlfriend who uses bamboo, she makes a tee pee shape tied at the top and plants her pole beans at the base. Worked real well for her, I wish I'd tried it. Don't know what kind she used though.

-- Pat (, March 17, 2000.

I recommend you look in either Sunset's Western Gardens (if you're out west) or some other book with info on bamboo. There are hundreds of species. Most "clumping" types are tropical. Most "spreading" (some call them "invasive") are temperate.

They vary in size from prostrate to the timber bamboos (I have a bambusoides (?) which will grow to 60-80 feet high, and six inches in diameter, if it's happy enough. I've seen them in this climate (SW Oregon) 45 feet high and four inch diamter. They can grow new culms to this size in a single month's growth, once they are established.

They also vary a great deal in their hardiness. I don't know of any which can handle extreme cold (like below zero fahrenheit)

-- jumpoff joe (, March 17, 2000.

There is a timber type variety,and several smaller,less useful types, that will survive and do well after temps of -25 F. I am pretty sure that raintree nursery carries it as my friend bought some and she has been happy with it.The only thing is that they are not cheap to get started in, but once established they spread and grow well and you have it forever. The timber type was also edible if I remember correctly, so if it started to spread you could just harvest and eat the culms that were where you didn't want them to be and have fresh bamboo sprouts.The fresh sprouts are much better than what you might have tried from a can. I lived on a place in Arkansas that had timber bamboo, and it is extremely useful stuff, as the asian peoples have shown also. To bend it into permament curves it needs to be steamed or soaked in hot water, then it holds the shape.The nice thing is that it is hollow and lightweight and so it's uses are many.

-- Rebekah (, March 17, 2000.

James, bamboo obviously has many uses, but I would urge you to be VERY careful where you plant it. Even here in Maine the stuff is close to impossible to kill. My neighbor has a patch near his house that he has been trying to control for, literally, more than ten years now. Black plastic didn't work, digging didn't work (just spread it more), fifteen inches of wet oak leaves didn't work. He finally resorted to herbicides and the stuff is coming back even after that. He has finally built access to the site for his lawn mower, and he's going to try mowing it weekly for the next two years to see if he can kill it that way.

-- Cash (, March 17, 2000.

Might want to check out they have every kind you can think of and they also have large warnings, and sell barriers that you sink into the ground, like sheetmetal. So to say that some of this stuff will spread must be the understatement of the century. I was looking for some to use as a screen, we live on 13 acres and our neighbors just put a 2nd story on their house that sits 20 feet off of our property. We are just going to dig some from a friend and plant it. Maybe it will grow and grow and devour our neighbors..One could only hope..Vicki McGaugh

-- Vicki McGaugh (, March 17, 2000.

Try Bamboo World (Australia) as an excellent source of information, even if you can't buy from them (they have a really excellent book available if you can figure out how to buy from them, too). There is also the American Bamboo Society, but I've just found that - I don't know it at all.

Bamboo World has information on many (hundreds of) types of bamboo, including climatic requirements (some types easily down to 6 degrees Centigrade (say 10 degrees Fahrenheit)) below freezing - more with shelter such as in forests. After all, much of China is VERY cold.

PLEASE DON'T PLANT RUNNING BAMBOO cultivars - only clumping types. The only ways I have seen to control running bamboos take excessive work and/or money, may not work, and why bother when you know better and can get clumping types? You really don't want bamboo getting under paths, roads, driveways, foundations .... I've seen people win law-suits because of damage done by bamboo their neighbours planted on the boundary. If it gets in a pasture, and gets a few days clear (two will do it in favourable conditions), it will be too tall and vigourous for even goats to control. There are good clumping bamboos which will grow a hedge three feet thick, and you nominate the height - up to eighty feet - used as windbreaks around some orchards, so they're wind-hardy.

Many bamboos don't provide edible shoots either. Either poisonous (cyanide), or too bitter, or just not worth the trouble - poor quality in taste or texture or size. Better to plant a known variety.

-- Don Armstrong (, March 18, 2000.

Please do be careful what you plant. In this area, NW WI, there is a plant people commonly call bamboo. It looks like bamboo but only grows 8-12 feet tall and spreads like wildfire with gnarly knobs around the base of the plants so it's very difficult to mow down. Any small piece of root will reroot. It has pretty, lacy flowers that the bees like, and a nice scent. The stems aren't strong enough to build anything. Another name for the plant is Japanese knotweed- that pretty much describes it. I'm really interested in the true bamboo also. If anyone knows of a "good" bamboo that will survive -30 degree winters, I'd sure like to hear about it. I'll check out the online suggestions, too.

-- Peg (, March 18, 2000.

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