Bamboo Farming USA
 

CARE OF BAMBOO THE SECOND SEASON 

I planted most of my research plots in spring of 2014. Most plots measure 100 foot by 130 foot. Once the bamboo starts were planted, the plots were mulched with hay. It looked great with green roads of grass surrounding the tan beds of hay and bamboo starts. There were no weeds.

I planted most of my research plots in spring of 2014. Most plots measure 100 foot by 130 foot. Once the bamboo starts were planted, the plots were mulched with hay. It looked great with green roads of grass surrounding the tan beds of hay and bamboo starts. There were no weeds.

During spring of 2015, I had been thinking that the weeds were not that important. After all in a year or two, the bamboo would shade them out.  By August of 2015 grasses and weeds were tall and thick. Sprinkler heads were hidden and water was blocked by weeds 6 feet tall. Vines were beginning to climb the bamboo.

I was wrong. Waiting to control until it was very difficult is what I did. Better to control while weeds and grass are small.

I now believe that weeds around new plantings of bamboo should be controlled by mulching, mowing and herbicide. When maintenance is proper, you can see into the plantings and walk through them. It is easy to see things that need correcting. And the plantings are beautiful and satisfying to look at.

When my bamboos grew sideways or fell, they lay horizontal along the ground, I thought, “The leaves are getting plenty of sunshine so why bother staking”. Now I will go back and stake up my leaners. Why? Because I can’t control weeds with them lying on the ground.

Below see photos showing why I was wrong.

1. Small plants like these Phyllostachys parvifolia are hidden by weeds. These plants were mail ordered as rhizomes with tops. They were never robust potted plants. (And they grew sideways and should have been staked.) Eliminate competition...

2. You do not want your sprinkler heads hidden from view. You do not want your heads watering weeds.

Mowing, I discovered things that I needed to know.

3. As I mowed the tall grasses, I uncovered fire ant nests. I carried Fire Ant Killer in the bag hanging from the handle of the mower. First, find the mound. Second, mow around it. Third, sprinkle the poison outside the mound like rings on a planet so your ankles are protected from ants that are outside the mound. Fourth, kick a depression into the top of the mound while keeping well back from the mound. Fifth, sprinkle poison on the damaged mound as the ants pour out of the depression from your heel. Sixth, mow someplace else and return in five minutes to mow around and over the mound.

4.  In the photo below, there is a line of dead bamboos. Why did they die? In order to build this bamboo research farm, I had to clear trees. The trees were piled and burned. Looking at the photo you can see the black soil from the burning of trees. Did the excess wood ash kill the bamboos. I don’t know, but I assume so. There aren’t even live weeds there.

 5. Some of the plots were planted with plants that were recently dug as opposed to being planted with plants established in pots at a nursery. In the photo below, you can see my Phyllostachis vivax research plot. I had just finished mowing the tall weeds and grass.

The photo shows two reasons to mow. On the left in a pile is one willow tree with 5 trunks, each measures 1 or 2 inches in diameter. This bamboo look-alike sprung up near a planted vivax and looked just like it. To the right is a bamboo with yellow leaves. Vivax is inherently weak. I neglected to stake the plants. I think that if I had staked these starts, they would be healthy.

6. In the photo below I had just started to mow. The job is not finished. Ignore my cute dogs and look at the grey dead sticks of bamboo. In this case the dead canes are due to drainage problems. After I planted the rows of Japanese Timber bamboo, I turned on the irrigation. I did not pay attention and this row of bamboo died from too much water. A slight depression combined with soil that does not percolate well and my careless use of water killed these plants.

I think that with time as the other rows spread into this area, that they will grow well. They won’t be irrigated as much and the larger plants will transpire more water in any case.

And here is the willow tree that grew hidden in weeds, the bamboo look alike.