Photo: Bambusa vulgaris at the PRI Zaytuna Farm
Bamboo is a resource that over the ages was not tapped. It has been viewed as an ornamental plant in the gardens and at times, in art and its economic potential not fully exploited. Bamboo is ‘the new timber’, and now people are embracing it. For the most part, it is embraced for its economic importance and benefits over timber, and this has made it a preferred resource that the modern world is eyeing for.
Is bamboo a tree or grass? A common question because they have edgy similarities – Bamboo is a grass of the family Gramineae. It is a rhizomatous plant too. It grows typically from its rhizomes; in which they are tough underground rooting systems that grow up to new shoots. You will find them grown in Cold climate regions as well as hot tropical climates. Mostly in three continents; Africa, Asia, North America, and Australia. Despite it being classified as a grass, it has the structure of a tree. Its stem has recorded a height of forty meters while its radius ranges from a very small one millimeter to 30 centimeters for the larger diameter. There are two basic types of bamboo; the running (monopodial bamboo) and the clumping bamboo (sympodial bamboo).
Most people treat them as very special species. They grow very fast. It is believed that they create and generate the highest biomass that is remarkably true as compared to any other plant. They inhibit the value of a forest product which is a non-wood. However, they are considered as very vital in plant kingdom because they possess high agricultural benefits.
What to consider when planting Bamboo
1. You should gather all the equipment and materials needed.
2. The type of soil. If you are living in one of those regions mentioned earlier, then you should have your soil checked and tested. It is estimated that Bamboo does well in rich but moist and drained soils. This means that the soil should have almost all the nutrients needed.
3. You are advised to add compost. Either compost or other additives elevate this bamboo plant at the same level with that of the soil. You should know which fertilizers to use. There are fertilizers that add nitrogen to the leaves. Also, others facilitate the growth of bamboo roots. For example, somebody living in North America can use Fertilizer 16/6/8 for the first stage while the second phase you may use fertilizer 6/24/24.
Popular Types of Bamboo trees
1. Bambusa balcooa.
2. Bambusa bambos.
3. Bambusa blumeana.
4. Bambusa Polymorpha.
5. Bambusa textilis.
6. Bambusa tulda.
7. Bambusa vulgaris.
8. Cephalostachyum pergracile.
9. Dendrocalamus asper.
10. Dendrocalamus giganteus.
11. Dendrocalamus latiflorus.
12. Dendrocalamus strictus.
13. Gigantochloa Apus.
14. Gigantochloa Levis.
15. Gigantochloa pseudoarundinacea.
16. Guadua angustifolia.
17. Melocanna baccifera.
18. Ochlandra sps.
19. Phyllostachys edulis.
20. Thyrsostachys siamensis.
Point to note; Bamboo trees that have been highlighted with the green color have a high possibility of prospectively and their soils are very fertile. Also, they are very efficient when conducting environment rehabilitating. Besides the ones in green color, their pair has a black font. Therefore, their soils are classified as average in that they may lack the essential nutrients.
On the list we have two edible bamboo species that are; Bambusa Bamboo and Bamboo Vulgaris. However, you need to peel their shoots before cooking the as they are very bitter and indigestible if eaten when raw.
Hardness of Bamboo trees
Research shows that there is only one test that proves how hard they are. The test is none other than the Janka’s Hardness test. This test may be accurate; however, it does not predict its durability. Moreover, its primary aim entails the measurements of force exalted when one pushes a metal ball through the wood.
Probably what makes the test successful is the fact that bamboo resistance makes them ideal and strong by not accommodating the metal ball in their fibers. Nevertheless, when sharp items get stuck in those fibers, their threads will be cut. Their strongest points are mostly their nodes.
The process of testing their vital points happens in manufacturing industries in our rural areas. It involves flooring those species and checking their knuckles. However, when you are flooring them, you are advised to be very cautious because if you are not they can leave a lot of dents on the floor.
How you can tell the difference between Clumpers and Runners
Below is a simplified table where you can easily tell the differences between these two types of bamboo.
Recommended places for Clumpers and Runners
Bamboos rooting system
The Bamboo rooting system is of the fibrous type. They are long but shallow yet they erupt from rhizomes and hold firm to the soil that aids in anchorage to the soil and helps against erosion. Regardless of either the Clumpers or the running type, the bamboo stores its energy in the rhizome system that facilitates the production of new shoots. In turn, the new shoots mature to their full size quickly and maintain the same diameter for the rest of their life.
Runner’s root system
They have long fast-spreading rhizomes that tend to be shallow roots that start from the Culm part. Beneath the soil, we find rhizomes that are short but are shaped like a neck. They lead us to the harmless feeder roots that aid and support a new shoot.
Clumpers’ root system
On the other hand, the clumpers have short slow-spreading rooting system. Its system starts at the end of the mature cane. This end connects with roots. Clumping starts as a formation of buds on their rhizomes to the sprouting of it.
Proper Care so that they can get Established
Care to observe when planting
You should dig a hole that has twice the diameter of your bamboo plant. For your soil to retain water, you should form a donut shape at the top of your soil.
Replanted bamboo in a container or a pot should watered daily while newly planted shoots on the ground should be dispensed water till their soils are saturated.
When to split and replant the offshoots of Clumpers
As soon as you spot new shoots you can prepare to split and replant them. New shoots emerge mostly during the Summer. However, the perfect time to sub-divide them is at the start of Spring.
How to split and replant the off shoots of Clumpers
What you may need:-
(A) Shovel (however you can alternate it with a hand saw)
(C) Larger pots
You should study your clump plant at first. This will help you to spot new shoots besides the clump edges. In case you spot, you should then remove it from the container you planted it in. If you do not see anything let it stay in the container till you see it sprouting shoots. However, you should take regular care of it.
Next you should head to your garden with your bamboo. Pitch its shovel 8 meters from the ground. You should place it between the mature plant and the fresh shoots. These shoots should acquire and take the circumference of this stand, thus dividing its rhizomes strategically from its clump.
Now you can start sawing your bamboo. However, you should do it on the outside of its edges. These edges should be at least 1 cm from the ground. Moreover, you first check if your plant will need more space. Some of these are huge in nature.
You should grab either a shovel or a hand saw to cut your Clumpers into 4 pieces. The size of the Clumpers should dictate to you what to use. Immediately you have divided them, transfer those pieces into their new area.
In addition, you can replant them in pots. These pots should have the exact depth like where this bamboo came from. You should not do the mistake of not watering them because those clumps will dry. You should pour water on them till those shoots have established themselves.
When to split and replant the off shoots of runners
You should split the off shoots of runner bamboo when either your succulent is scraggly or when you can spot a cluster of shoots in your nursery.
How to split and replant the off shoots of runners
These are the things you might need:-
(A) A pair of pruning shears.
(B) A saw
(C) Meals (bone, blood, cottonseed)
(D) Water. A container which can store 5 gallons
The to-do list once your runner bamboo plant has matured
After the bamboo is matured there are certain things that you need to check to ensure good final quality of the runners bamboo
– You need to cut at least the 2/3 of your stalk. You need to do this before dividing and transplanting your runner.
– You need to let your root soak overnight or better still a day before dividing.
– You should carefully dig out its clump so that you will not interfere with its structure.
– You can now move it to another area. However, if your mission is to divide another part of the plant. You should make sure you dig out that specific part.
– You should cut your clump into equal sections. I would recommend you to use a saw to cut those sturdy roots. In addition, you should subdivide the stalk into four equal parts.
– Subdivision depends on the size you want. You may cut them into small sizes or two large sizes. However, they should be equal.
– You should take those portions to where you want to transfer them. You should dig holes depending on the number of portions you have.
– Your hole should have the exact depth similar to that of the ball of a root. The hole should also be wide probably twice times of that of the ball.
– You should make a mixture of bone, blood and cottonseed meal. Make sure you measure the ingredient a ½ cup each.
– Once the mixture is ready, blend it together with soil all over the hole.
– Now place your portion in the hole but on the soil. Let it face upright.
– At the back of your portion fill the area with soil. Probably the garden soil. Later on, you can paddle your soil gently. This act will make sure that you do not interfere with its growth.
– Now, once you planted fill up the new seedling with water. At most it should be five gallons.
– For the first few weeks you must water your seedling every week.