Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, with reported growth rates of 100 cm (39 in) in 24 hours.
An acre of bamboo absorbs 33% more carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees. Forests of bamboo—which can thrive at subtropical sea level and on 12,000 foot mountains—can provide our lungs with an increase of our favorite gas.
Limbs quivering with despair due to deforestation? Yes, one million acres per week are lost to lumbering, and hardwoods—like oak or teak—can require up to 50 years to reach maturity. Pulp woods like poplar, eucalyptus, and pine require six to ten years, but fast-growing bamboo only needs three to five years before harvesting, with certain varieties skyrocketing up a shocking one meter per day! Harvested bamboo forests also require no additional planting; new shoots emerge from its extensive root system.
Require little or no irrigation, just natural rainfall, and it can be cultivated in arid areas. Bamboo’s water-thrifty skills contrast sharply with gluttonous cotton—arguably the biggest H2O-sucker in world agriculture. Last month, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathi suggested to her Kenyan government that bamboo replace eucalyptus as a crop in the highlands because its water demands are more modest.
An acre of bamboo can store 6.88 metric tons of carbon per year, 70% more than an acre of hardwood, reports the World Wildlife Fund.
However, the growth rate is dependent on local soil and climatic conditions, as well as species, and a more typical growth rate for many commonly cultivated bamboos in temperate climates is in the range of 3–10 centimetres (1.2–3.9 in) per day during the growing period.
Primarily growing in regions of warmer climates during the late Cretaceous period, vast fields existed in what is now Asia. Some of the largest timber bamboo can grow over 30 m (98 ft) tall, and be as large as 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) in diameter.
However, the size range for mature bamboo is species dependent, with the smallest bamboos reaching only several inches high at maturity. A typical height range that would cover many of the common bamboos grown in the United States is 15–40 feet (4.6–12 m), depending on species. Anji Country of China known as the “Town Of Bamboo” provides the optimal climate and soil conditions to grow, harvest, and process some of the most valued bamboo poles available worldwide.
Unlike all trees, individual bamboo stems, or culms, emerge from the ground at their full diameter and grow to their full height in a single growing season of three to four months.
During these several months, each new shoot grows vertically into a culm with no branching out until the majority of the mature height is reached. Then, the branches extend from the nodes and leafing out occurs. In the next year, the pulpy wall of each culm slowly hardens.
Many tropical bamboo species will die at or near freezing temperatures, while some of the hardier or so-called temperate bamboos can survive temperatures as low as −29 °C (−20 °F). Some of the hardiest bamboo species can be grown in places as cold as USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5–6, although they typically will defoliate and may even lose all above-ground growth, yet the rhizomes will survive and send up shoots again the next spring. In milder climates, such as USDA Zone 8 and above, some hardy bamboo may remain fully leafed out year around.
A type of bamboo for colder climate – PHYLLOSTACHYS nuda
For selecting a location for a clumping bamboo, keep in mind that the young bamboo can be damaged by high winds and hot afternoon sun. So providing an area with a wind break and afternoon shade is ideal. Bamboo likes soil that is well draining and high in nitrogen. Both of these factors can be taken into consideration by adding some compost to the soil before planting and mulching afterward with a 2-inch base of grass clippings and dried leaf mulch. The mulch should not only cover the root area of the plant but go as far out as you would like the plant to spread.
Plant bamboo plant at the same level it is in the container you purchased it in and dig twice the width of the root ball. Do not let the roots dry out; in fact soak the entire container well before transplanting. Backfill halfway and water the soil and roots to cause a tight seal with the soil and then fill the rest of the way, tamp the soil down and water again. If the watering causes settling of the soil, add more soil to bring it up to level.
- Welcome to Life with Bamboo! (lifewithbamboo.wordpress.com)
- The S&T-Based Model Farm for Bamboo at Maasin, Iloilo: The Science Solution for a Sustainable and Vibrant Bamboo Production (devcomconvergence.wordpress.com)
- The Bamboo Revolution: Bamboo Bikes (calgaryprofellow2013.wordpress.com)
- World Bamboo Day, 18 September (lifewithbamboo.wordpress.com)
- Panda’s survival and the climate change cause by human activities (earthfriend412.wordpress.com)