To most people Bamboo is a nuisance at best, a scourge at its worst. Horror stories of running bamboo taking over yards or neighborhoods is a long-standing urban myth. Unlike the Kudzu, http://www.herbreference.com/kudzu.html
that has taken over entire southern states bamboo enjoys limited exposure as a ‘Lucky’ plant grown in an 8oz container, or the main food source for the cute and cuddly panda in zoos, or safely observed from afar in bonsai exhibits at garden shows.
In China and Japan bamboo is a mainstay. Japan says its country is held together by bamboo and china builds bridges with it. Bamboo shoots are a food source, a feedstock, and of course timber bamboo has the tensile strength of steel, hence bridges and houses that last hundreds of years. I would not be surprised if author David Blume, “Alcohol Can Be a Gas” could not brew up a batch of alcohol fuel from this sweet grass. http://www.permaculture.com/
The running bamboo gallops in zones 4-10, hence the term running as opposed to clumping. And if we were not so intent on killing or confining it, that running factor alone is a real asset.
Like crab grass it sends underground shoots in all directions and comes up with a new shoot the first chance it gets. This new shoot is a new plant that will send out more runners with more shoots to make more plants and on and on and on.
Crab grass is not a food source at least not to humans, nor can you build houses, flooring,
and tiles, make paper, clothes, musical instruments like flutes and reeds, window shades or bridges with it. You can’t reroute rivers or keep a denuded mountainside intact. So, I can see the reasoning behind discouraging crab grass from running wild but, I do not understand why one would discourage, no, try to obliterate and eradicate a plant with the potential to reverse the current downward economics and raising CO2 trends. Growing bamboo for timber has all the earmarks of an industry that lends itself very nicely to the triple bottom line philosophy. A win-win-win business philosophy that puts corporate greed in its place by practicing in unison the 3 P’s, planet, people, profit, thus the triple bottom line. “Building a Green Economy, by Kevin Danaber.” http://tinyurl.com/yauw8he
As a renewable, sustainable, pure green, job creating, out-and-out cash crop, bamboo is unbeatable. It is a gift from Good Old Mother Nature like gold, sliver, diamonds, oil, air and water. The big plus side of Bamboo is that you don’t have to wait a million and half years to harvest this bounty. Unlike Mom’s buried treasures that require deveining Her arteries, beheading Her mountaintops
or denuding Her ancient mantle for the treasured nonrenewables, bamboo is right there in your face, ready, willing and able to grow and multiply. It screams, “Here I am. Come and get me.” Not using Bamboo as a natural resource is about as stupid as not using Hemp with all its natural renewable resources. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. http://www.hemp.org/
Lets look at some hard cold facts about Bamboo as a Big green, sustainable, life producing manufacturing plant. This plant can create wealth right here and right now. “Bamboos are the fastest growing woody plants in the world. Their growth rate (up to 60 centimeters (24 in.)/day) is due to a unique rhizome-dependent system, but is highly dependent on local soil and climate conditions. Timber bamboo grows in zones 4-10. Here is a zone map http://tinyurl.com/yep5hf3. San Luis Obispo is Zone 9.
They are of economic and high cultural significance in East Asia and South East Asia where they are used extensively in gardens, as a building material, and as a food source.” We know it works and is sustainable.
Compare This: Timber bamboo takes 5-7 years to grow to the point it can be harvested.
With a 10-30% annual increase in biomass versus 2-5% for trees, bamboo creates greater yields of raw material for use. One clump can produce 200 poles in the five years it takes one tree to reach maturity.
In Costa Rica, 1000 homes are built every year with all of the building material coming from the same 150-acre plantation.
Bamboo homes can withstand 173 mph hurricane winds and 7.3 earthquakes.
Bamboo grows anywhere, from the equator to the Himalayas. There is Bamboo as a ground cover that you can mow once a year, or some timber Bamboo that grows to 100 feet in the first year. It eats carbon dioxide. http://tinyurl.com/yemx3w8
One hundred and fifty acres of timber bamboo can produce 1250 board feet of timber in one year’s time compared to using native species, which takes 30-50 years to produce the same amount. We get most of our Bamboo products from China and Japan. China and Japan get most of their lumber from our old forest. That does not seem like a fair trade. Bamboo grows anywhere. All you need is some dirt and sunshine.
As a commercial enterprise, the processing and impact on the environment in terms of chemicals, waste, toxic byproduct used is minimal compared to processing lumber for paper or pulp, if it is done right.
For backyard gardens I grow bamboo in pots for fun and profit. I grow Black bamboo for the sheer beauty and grace. Green and yellow bamboo again for its beauty and it makes great all natural, no BHA, straws because there is at least 12” between nodes. I also use the variegated variety for stakes in the garden or make fencing and criss crossing traps to keep critters out of the garden. I keep cutting it and it keeps growing.
I am lucky. I live in a town that is looking for a growth industry that is user and planet friendly. We have the land, the climate, and the will to live a sustainable lifestyle. There are two independent lumber yards that might be interested in a grow-your-own-economy that bamboo could provide. Bamboo is amazing. Working with Bamboo is working with Mother Nature at the Grassroots. Here are a few sites to get you started http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ecoph39.htm . There is a lot of information here. http://www.bamboos.com/timber%20bamboo.html Also, locally we have Bamboo Batu. This is a local business with more facts and bamboo products. Check it out. http://www.bambu-batu.com/24-0-factoids.html. We get no kickbacks from any of these sites. We are doing it for the love.