Today I visited a bamboo farm and was quite impressed with variety and usefulness of this plant. It is a very useful crop and can product income. The website bamboofarmingusa.com says the following
“Bamboo is a versatile, income producing crop. You can harvest and sell bamboo shoots in spring and early summer. You can cut and sell poles in summer or fall. When you cut the poles, you can feed the tops to livestock. They will strip the poles of leaves. You can run poultry under the bamboo canopy. These birds will eat weeds and the small bamboo “grass” that comes up. Meanwhile their droppings fertilize the grove. Move them to a new section as they clear the ground. “
“Bamboo is a useful plant in addition to its income producing capabilities. It is a perennial. You don’t have to replant it each year. It is evergreen and therefore photosynthesizes year around. It screens the farm from roads. It catches runoff from fields. It reduces erosion. It protects fields from wind. Plant bamboo along swales to prevent gully washes. It is 10 degrees cooler in a bamboo grove than out in the summer sun. Bamboo thrives on summer moisture and is greedy for nutrients so it is an excellent crop on which to empty a manure lagoon in summer. As you thin out leaning canes or broken canes, run them through a shredder. The resulting mulch is excellent. It can be an additional farm product to sell by the truck load or bagged.”
Bamboo can be grown in a large part of the US. The easiest area is in USDA Zones 7 and 8, but it has been grown as far north as zone 4. Bamboo is a forest grass and as such likes humidity. Bamboo grows best with lots of rain in summer, less in winter. Most bamboos do not like saturated soils. They are not swamp plants. Bamboo grows best where winters are mild and summers warm and moist. If your soil can grow corn, it can grow bamboo.
After saying this, the farm I saw today is in Northern Calif. with wet winters and dry summers. Bamboo plants come in many varieties, but the big thing you have to be aware of is the clumping and the running varieties. The clumping stays in one area and do not expand rapidly. The running varieties send out runners and will rapidly cover large areas.
Bamboo plants have many uses, one for area denial or to make a thick impenetrable barrier. Some varieties are extremely fast growing. I saw one today that grows two feet a day. Uses include using the cut and dried stalks to build fences, furniture, fishing poles, frog spears, and musical instruments. I even saw a bike frame made from bamboo, and yes, the bike could be ridden. So use your imagination.
If you live in the right area, it is a plant that bears investigation; it has many possibilities.