Bamboo is a valuable resource that must be managed, or it will get out of hand. In a recent post about brush clearing causing erosion, wasted resources, and a general mess — the contractor involved cut bamboo off at the ground. The only thing that would be worse than this would be to cut the bamboo and then bury it. Here's why …
Be sure to request a copy of our “Bamboo management secrets” pamphlet that shows you how to control, cultivate, and make the most of this excellent resource on your property. Here are some highlights, so you don't make these same mistakes. In this case, this contractor was dealing with short shrubby young bamboo.
Warning: Bamboo Will Punish Your Land If You Clear It The Wrong Way!
Let's first understand that bamboo is grass. In the right environment, grass, when cut, will come right back. So if my neighbor's objective was to remove the bamboo permanently, preventing it from returning is essential. Unfortunately, this is NOT what will happen if you chop this valuable resource down.
Most bamboo, when cut, will be shocked into sending out runners to produce a giant patch next year. Clearing bamboo the wrong way can lead to a thousand years of misery if you don't want it in the first place. In an erosion situation, the durability of bamboo is treasured, but this same gift can be a burden if not properly managed.
I showed my neighbor evidence of this from previous clearings when getting permission to do remediation on the hill as a training exhibit for an upcoming erosion control class. Hundreds of Bamboo runners from fallen canes as well as rhizome nodes. What was hard to see was how these runners provided a mat of roots controlled by the heavy mulch that was now moved all downslope.
An Unusual Way to Remove Bamboo That Works Like Magic
When harvesting some bamboo in Fieldale, VA, I did two things that shocked the property owner. First, I'm harvesting 25-foot-tall straight bamboo as big around as a can of beans. At 4 to 6 inches in diameter, I stripped all branches, then cut bamboo into 12-foot lengths. Secondly, tops were then chopped in dropped around waist-high trunks.
This provides a thick layer of mulch so you can see spring shoots — to either harvest as food or chop out. Bamboo can solve many problems around a homestead when you know how to manage it the right way — but for most, it becomes a burden.
There is more to this detailed in our hands-on class. But the vital part of knowing, like any grass bamboo can be smothered. No root barriers are required for forest-based stands, just regular harvesting, and proper management. Contact us to get on the bamboo class announcement list or to ask your questions.
If you want to get more from your small farm, homestead, or estate, … Justin Hitt is a Permaculture Design Consultant with more than two decades of experience with organic gardening. He teaches the practical application of critical thinking, entrepreneurial ecology, and homestead management. Practical insights for practitioners, estate owners, and homesteaders. To see if his insights are right for you, join our free newsletter.