Friday, January 9, 2009

Yellow Groove Bamboo

I want to design a Cathedral like this with our bamboo.

Yellow Groove Bamboo This bamboo will get to a height of about 10 to 15 feet in zone 5, 20 feet in zone 6, and 30 to 40 feet high in zone 7. Many culms have zig-zag’s in the lower section. This bamboo is very cold hardy and grown widely in the United States. The shoots are edible. The canes on this species can get so dense it is difficult to squeeze into the grove.

Our chickens have always enjoyed the bamboo for shade, protection, scratching, eating the leaves. Now, that we have goats, they'll stand on their tippy toes to eat the leaves which we just love it that they enjoy the leaves so well.

I think I'll start selling some of it at the Farmers Market. Have you ever priced this stuff? The landscapers seem to be getting $50 for a clump. I got bunches of clumps. I'll see if I have a market for it.

Bamboo is the world's fastest growing plant and some species of bamboo can grow up to a foot a day in the right conditions. It's this amazing growth rate coupled with the "spear" type shoot The bamboo plant has an extraordinary range of uses. Here's just a few: baskets, bicycle frames, bird cages, blinds, boats, bridges, brushes, buckets, canoes, carts, charcoal, chopsticks, clothing, cooking utensils, diapers, fans, fences, firewood, fishing rods, food steamer, furniture, garden tools, handicrafts, hats, incense, musical instruments, paper, particle board, pens, pipes, ply ,roofing, scaffold, tableware, toilets, toothpicks, toys, umbrellas, walking sticks .. and that's really only just scratching the surface.

Another important use for bamboo is food. The shoots are used in many Asian countries as a vegetable - sometimes eaten raw, or steamed and boiled. China makes beer from bamboo, which I've read is quite palatable. Given that, I'm thinking it may also be useful in relation to the production of ethanol.

Bamboo - you can wear it, you can eat it, you can build with it. Bamboo may increasingly replace plastics and wood products - what a marvellous gift from nature! Consider bamboo alternatives when purchasing items - despite some ongoing debate about the exploitation of bamboo and associated production processes of bamboo goods, it's readily renewable, sustainable and still seems to have a lot less environmental impact than chemical-ridden crops, destruction of old growth forests and petroleum-derived materials.
One of the prevailing challenges facing dairy, beef, and poultry operations is the management of animal wastes. Too often the high nitrates in concentrated manure and slurry storages either leaches into the ground water or enters streams via surface runoff during periods of high rainfall. Consequently farmers are faced with either constructing expensive containment facilities or paying large fines for the environmental impacts of their practices. The problem of nitrate accumulations on a farm can be looked at as a resource, however, when bamboo is applied to the scenario. Bamboo can tolerate enormous applications of nitrogen fertilizers accumulating it and turning it into biomass. By siting bamboo around manure containment ponds or between a nitrate sources and sensitive ecosystems, bamboo can be used to ameliorate a problem while simultaneously providing another marketable crop to the farmer.

Animal forage

On our farm where we run dairy cattle and goats on an open pasture we are faced with food shortages during the winter months when grasses are dormant or no longer meeting the nutritional needs of the animals. Consequently we have had to invest in either purchased feed or the energy and labor of cutting and storing grass hay. Recently we have begun exploring a number of perennial crops that hold the potential for extending the forage capacity of the bottomland pastures. Bamboo has become a prime candidate as a perennial forage species as it holds its foliage year round making dormant season harvest possible. Having a high protein content (12%-19%) it is comparable to alfalfa in nutritional value yet does not require the intensive cutting, drying, and storage process of an annual crop. Bamboo thrives in the rich, moist alluvial soils of the farm's bottomlands. We are therefore researching the feasibility of growing bamboo in proximity to grazing animals. Feeding can be managed by either cutting bamboo and "throwing it over the fence" or allowing animals to g raze in bamboo paddocks on short rotations. WSU is also experimenting with producing silage, a product of fermented foliage or biomass, from bamboo leaves. Silage is typically produced from grass hay and is a common strategy for providing a food source to grazing animals during seasons when pastures are dormant.


Deb said...

This is a wonderful post! Thank you for all the great information about bamboo. I have several plants in my house and I love to knit with bamboo. We are also looking at bamboo for hardwood flooring. I just never realized how many items it could be used for.
We are in zone 4, sometimes 3 so I will have to do some research as well as cold hardiness but what a terrific supplemental feed supply.
Thanks again!

Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill said...

What an interesting post! I have a lot to learn about bamboo. The cathedral is beautiful. I have heard that bamboo flooring is very durable. I agree with Deb, I never realized how versatile bamboo is!

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

Thank you for this interesting and informative post. I knew about the flooring made from bamboo but did not know there was that many uses for it.

Teesa said...

I've never heard of Bamboo alcohol, but if someone's gonna make it, leave it to the Chinese! I have eaten lots of bamboo though and it is definitely delicious. I love your bamboo forest. It's really beautiful and makes a nice barrier from those loud neighbors!

Thanks for the post. I bet you'll see a lot of people will want to buy bamboo!

Teesa said...

I forgot to mention, my old apartment had bamboo flooring - it was absolutely beautiful.

Hot Belly Mama said...

This is great to know! My husband and I were trying to figure out how we could free-range our animals in the winter. I will be sharing this with him! Thank you!

Claire said...

Zone 5??? For real??? Oh my! Will you sell me some clumps? I have a bamboo cutting board that I adore, and I am just starting to work with some bamboo fiber in felting. I would love for our goats to have some bamboo. I really must find out more about this.

Christy said...

I've always shied away from bamboo because of how invasive it it. In Virginia it has taken over the habitat of many native plants. However, it sounds like grown correctly, it could be very useful.

Mom L said...

The bamboo shots are fabulous, especially the cathedral. I, too, knew there were a lot of uses for bamboo, but your information floored me! I'm trying to keep alive some bamboo in a tall vase that Diane left with me - I'm sure it's a test and that she'll want it back next time she comes to Atlanta.

Brian said...

Good thoughts. I really like the bioremediation aspect!
One important thing to consider, along with all the pros of bamboo it is non native and very invasive. If not contained, it will spread into native forest vegetation crowding it out destroying native habitat.