Sunday, August 30, 2009


Never look a gift bamboo in the mouth.
Even if the "gift"requires two days of butt-busting work.

This is our haul from last week's bamboo expedition. That truck load represents hours of hot, sweaty, manual labor that included digging, hacking, sawing, and toting.
The bamboodinous bounty came to us by word of mouth. A friend of a friend had more bamboo than he knew what to do with and was willing to give some away.
And it wasn't that wimpy hedge bamboo, it was timber boo! The giant stuff!

Now, I love bamboo. Yes, yes, I know some types spread like crazy, ... I know that! Okay?
So no need to warn me about it taking over. I can handle a giant grass with attitude.
The problem with giant timber type bamboo is ... I can't afford it. So when this guy offered some for free... " Just come dig it up." ... I was not about to let that go by.

We wound up in the middle of Gainesville, on a three acre yard that had so much beauty and variety in the plantings ... you didn't know where to look next. It was literally a green oasis in the heart of the city.
The homeowner was very kind and walked us around pointing out the various types of bamboo growing in thick thickets ... that's redundant isn't it? Thickets are thick by the very fact of being a thicket.
When he had shown it all to us, he left us with a "Have at it!", and we did.

For about 3 hours, we dug, chopped, and pulled bamboo rootballs from the ground. The plants themselves were probably 40 feet tall at least, so we had to cut the culms off. We couldn't very well drive through Gatortown with trees hanging out the back of the truck.
The white trash bags are protecting the roots from drying out on the living bamboo plants. Beneath them are the cut pieces of bamboo that we brought home to dry out for whatever crafty thing we think of.

We got home after dark. I hosed down the bamboo and left it overnight. The next morning, I got up and started digging again ... this time in MY yard. Another couple of hours went in to digging and planting the boo.

I have some existing bamboo that I purchased long ago and it was nothing more than a bare stick when I bought it, so I'm hoping we got enough of a root ball on these culms to survive and grow.
In the picture above, one of the plants is waiting it's turn to be planted.

All the literature says that good watering is the secret to getting bamboo plants over the shock of transplanting, so I saturated each of the planting holes by letting the hose run until the hole was full.

I also planted them together and convenient to a hose, so I could water them each day if needed.

Ideally, the rock hard stump from the old horsey swing turkey oak will someday be invisible in a thicket of bamboo.
It will be a long time before I know if any of these rootballs survived the shock and are growing. I'm hoping for the best, but if even one makes it, I will be totally stoked.


Alan said...

PF--I'm not one to question a man's motives, because I sure wouldn't want that done to me. But, you dug up another man's bamboo, just to plant it in your yard. Not use it to build anything? Just asking...

jojo said...

lol. yes you will be overun. cool! i finally have 3 shoots coming up on my side of the property line where my neighbor has some. I've been waiting, and waiting, for it to migrate for 3 years. :) your way seems simpler for some reason.

threecollie said...

Good luck with it. Interesting project

pablo said...

Is this type of bamboo native to Florida? Seems like it should be everywhere.

Sounds like a tremendous amount of work, but I have to ask: what does that sign say that you parked the JEEP in front of?

Dani said...

John is gonna be drooling over this post. The man LOVES bamboo!

swamp4me said...

*shudders* Bamboo!?!? *shudders again*

Miz S said...

Oooh. I hope it survives after all that hard work. Josh is dying for bamboo but I am mean and won't allow it.

Floridacracker said...

Only the top white bagged plants... 5 of em, are alive with rootballs. The rest of that truck load beneath consists of cut bamboo timber as I said. It's gotta dry before I get crafty.

I'm ready. I have two other varieties and controlling them is not that big a deal, so bring it on bamboo! Hope you get your own creepers on the JOJO side of the fence.

I hope next spring/summer I will be able to report here about new shoots.

Not native. We have one native species, a small slender variety. I have a little bit of that in my nursery.

I left a trail of bamdrool all over this man's yard. He had the most beautiful, massive bamboo I've ever seen.

I hear ya. But this is not loose in the woods, this is my crop.
I was pretty amazed to see a beautiful grove of timber bamboo growing (where it doesn't belong) at the raft launch on the Nantahala River in your beautiful state this summer.

Floridacracker said...

Miz S,
Is this a power thing, or are you afraid it will take over the yard?
Some varieties don't run you know.

edifice rex said...

I would love to have some of the timber type to build stuff with! oh, what I could build! I'm sure you will come up with some great stuff.

hey, in case you have not seen it, the Nature Conservancy mag that just came out has a wonderful article (with wonderful pics) on cattle ranching in Florida and their conservation efforts within one of the biggest ranches there. very interesting.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

This could make a good photopoint over time opportunity!

TROLL Y2K said...

That's a lot of work. Are they runners or clumbers?

Aunty Belle said...


What will ya make wif that timber Boo?

An' DOES ya control it?

myamuhnative said...

FC,why don't you take a few of those cut canes and cut them into sections that have three or four internodal spaces and then bury them horizontally so they sprout new plants for you?
It may take a little longer than planting rooted stock,but the end result is the same.

Anonymous said...

Hi FC,

I love bamboo! Hope it takes. I was watching a garden show one day and they made a waterfall from a timbers. It was very nice.


lisa said...

May I feel stupid in this question and ask why you would want bamboo?

Meems said...

The fastest growing plant on the planet supposedly. I recently watched a fascinating video on the uses of bamboo in our day ... textiles, dishes, floors. One interesting point from the video: Bamboo sequesters 4x's more CO2 than hardwood trees and releases 35% more oxygen. It scrubs carbon like nothing else on the planet. Very friendly to the environment.

You've got plenty of room for it. The sound of it in the wind will put you to sleep, too.
Lots of hard work for great results... let's hope.
Meems @ For the Love of Florida

cndymkr / jean said...

Now how long will it take for those 5 plants to settle in and grow? Will they cover that stump in a year or will it take longer? Sorry, I'm a bamboo novice.

Floridacracker said...

I can just imagine what you could build with both the artist eye and the tech skills. Those south central ranches are important wildlife habitat.

I'm sure they will make back on PF.

They seemed to be clumpers or creepers at the place we dug them.

I have no idear yet, but I was grabbing while the grabbing was good. Inspiration can come later.
As for controlling it, I will stare it down like I do with my students.

You mean I could have dug a trench and laid these down?

I love it too and it's funny to me to read folks asking, WHY would I want it?

LOL! Why indeed. I just like the stuff. I like the tropical feel of it, the speedy growth, and the zillion and one things you can make out of bamboo,

Thanks for that booster!!
Sounds like you are a fan also.
Remember ... never fall asleep in a bamboo grove.

Based on my other bamboo plantings, it's gonna be awhile IF they take and survive. After a few years, the stuff usually take off full speed.

Bill said...

I have some of that giant bamboo in my backyard. My neighbor planted it on his side of the fence and it grew on my side, to about 50 feet tall. It drops these husks that look like papyrus and make a big mess. They are excellent for fire starter though. I have some black bamboo in another part of the yard that another neighbor planted and is also growing in my yard. This stuff really spreads like wildfire.
I know you will enjoy it. I will e-mail you some pictures.

Thanks for sharing,


Floridacracker said...

Neat! Looking forwared to seeing it.

myamuhnative said...

as long as your canes aren't too terribly dry, I would still give it a try with a few and keep them watered and not covered with too much soil.
They are commonly reproduced this way-will sprout at the internodal section as long as they are intact.
much easier than digging!

amarkonmywall said...

I have a miniature bamboo that I actually like very much for the screen value where it's planted. But this is some BIG bamboo you've got. Now, if you could just find yourself a panda.