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Benefits of Bamboo?

 
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What are the permaculture benefits and uses of bamboo in permaculture? I can understand a few.

1. It can be used to stop erosion;
2. Good quick  biomass generator;
3. Good resource of timber for structures
4. Shade source

But it does not produce a fruit and I get the sense that you may not be able to plant much near it because of their dense roots. Is it good habitat for birds or other animals or do they avoid it? Anything graze on it?

I ask because I was thinking of using it for a very poor soil parcel of land I'm buying but I thought maybe there are better alternatives even if the alternatives are slower growing. I would say my objectives at first is biomass to help build the soil and shade for the completely open parcel of property that will see 90-100 degree summer heat on the sandy soil.
 
master steward
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Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
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Well people can eat bamboo too, so I expect that those types would also be palatable for grazers...
This thread popped up in the 'similar threads. Although the original video seems to have gone now, there are some useful replies.
I'd love some bamboo, but I don't know whether it will grow well in my area, and whether to risk one of the more invasive types....
 
gardener
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I have just been given some bamboo canes for use I the garden together with a small pot of the same variety  that is supposedly non invasive.

My friend planted her bamboo ten years ago and it has remained in a manageable clump that she regularly harvests.

I do not know the climatic requirements for the edible variety of bamboo suitable for human consumption but might be worth looking into.

Bamboo could also be handy planted around the perimeter of a chicken run as a living hedge/fence. Perhaps the young canes could be woven?  

Berry canes and other edible plants could be woven through the bamboo canes as a food source for both humans and the chickens
20240323_125504.jpg
Stack of bamboo canes
Stack of bamboo canes
20240323_171659.jpg
Bamboo canes with leaves stripped
Bamboo canes with leaves stripped
20240323_165430.jpg
Bamboo canes supporting asparagus fronds
Bamboo canes supporting asparagus fronds
 
gardener
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Location: Wabash, Indiana, Zone 6a
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David,

I recently purchased  and planted a couple of arundinaria gigantia, which is a bamboo native to parts of the eastern half of the U.S. It is known around here as river cane. It can grow to 33 feet tall, and spreads slowly by rhyzomes. It is a cold-hardy perennial and can withstand temperatures down to minus 20 farenheit.

When thinking of permaculture benefits of a. gigantia, it might not seem to be in the "top ten" or even top 100 plants, but it has several benefits. Part of my reasoning for including it on my property are cultural. It is a critically endangered ecosystem. We've lost more than 98 percent of it over the past couple hundred years.

Here are some benefits:

It can enhance soil fertility through its decomposition process. When the plant dies and decomposes, it releases nutrients back into the soil, making them available for other plants. There are other plants that do this better, but part of my goal on this property is biodiversity.

While Arundinaria gigantea itself is not a nitrogen-fixing plant, it can create a conducive environment for nitrogen-fixing bacteria by stabilizing soil and creating a moist, protected habitat. This indirect benefit can improve nitrogen levels in the soil, which is crucial for plant growth.

The root system of river cane is dense and extensive, which helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, which is crucial for nutrient cycling because it prevents the topsoil from being washed away.

It plays a significant role in carbon sequestration, capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in its biomass and the soil.

The dense thickets provide a habitat for various microorganisms, including those involved in the decomposition and nutrient cycling processes, breaking down organic matter, and releasing nutrients like phosphorus and potassium back into the soil, where they can be used by other plants.

It can improve water quality by filtering and trapping sediments and pollutants. This filtration process helps to retain nutrients within the soil. It can also provide phytoremediation of heavy metals in the soil and it brings water up into the soil closer to the surface.

Those are some of the reasons I decided to give it a try.

j
 
pollinator
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Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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I’ve been feeding running bamboos to livestock in the winter for twenty years with good results.  I then make biochar with the remaining cane (culm).  The biggest downside is that it is labor intensive.  My approx 1/2 acre grove that I planted is contained by a creek and livestock on two long sides.  I maintain the two short sides to keep it off my neighbor’s property.  If I had it to do over, I would put it on an “island” surrounded by livestock.
 
David Barrett
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Thanks for the reply. The good news is that where I hope to plant is sandy soil with bedrock way deep. Unfortunately it does not look like bamboo roots go too deep. What I am hoping to do is plant the most aggressively invasive as possible. The location of the property and the fact that the lack of rain will act as a good restriction on bamboo growing uncontrollably the invasiveness issue is not a threat. I think that at the very least I will have a good soil creator. There is a runoff stream on the property. I'm guessing it runs for about a week after a heavy rain, two tops. I think I might put up some check dams and plant bamboo along the stream maybe with some vetiver.
 
pollinator
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Location: Upstate SC
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I have been growing and using bamboo on my farm since 1998 and have integrated it into my farm operations.  In the winter, after the livestock have eaten down the stockpiled hay in the pastures, I thin out the older canes and feed their leaves to the livestock.  The resultant defoliated canes are used for making fences, trellises, and find a multitude of other uses on the farm wherever a custom length pole is needed.  In the spring, the groves provide bamboo shoots for myself and the livestock, with the livestock controlling the spread on the running bamboos by eating all of the shoots coming up outside of the fenced bamboo groves.  The livestock is only excluded from the groves during the one month long shooting season. They have access to the grove’s shade for the rest of the year.  During the summer, the livestock appreciates the cool shade in the bamboo grove’s interior.  Bamboo is very effective at transpiration, so the entire grove acts like a giant swamp cooler providing temperatures inside the grove up to 7 degrees F below ambient shade temperature.  Given the choice between bamboo shade and tree shade, the livestock will almost always choose the bamboo shade.  The lightweight bamboo canes also have the advantage of not posing the injury threat of falling branches and trees that you get in the tree forest during a windstorm.

Birds also find the bamboo grove to be an attractive habitat since the thick evergreen foliage reduces their heat loss on cold nights, the slick canes are difficult for predators to climb, and the jiggling of the lightweight branches gives them plenty of warning of the predators’s approach.  I have many hundreds of birds, mostly grackles, blackbirds, and starlings, show up every evening to roost for the night in my bamboo groves and then leave in the morning, leaving the groves to the cardinals, sparrows, and other birds that frequent the groves during the day.  The birds leave behind a quantity of guano that fertilizes the grove and the surrounding pasture, so that once the grove reaches a large enough size to attract enough birds, then the grove becomes self-fertilizing.  Chickens are also highly attracted to bamboo, not surprising since their red jungle fowl ancestors are native to SE Asia where the local name for the jungle fowl is “bamboo fowl”.  

Running bamboos are the best plant for stopping and reversing erosion since their reticulated rhizome network is very effective at holding the soil in place and the thick tangle of canes acts as a sieve to collect debris from the floodwaters so it builds soil after every flood, plus the large amount of biomass that it generates both above and below ground builds up the topsoil.
 
master steward
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I grow Phyllostachys dulcis, which is quite edible. Unfortunately, my geese agree and I don't have adequate fencing for that "month in the spring" when it's shooting, so I don't get much of it. The wild rabbits also seem to like it, and they're even more difficult to fence out.

I agree with much of what has been said by others, but I'll also add that I find it simply beautiful. The soft susurration of the leaves in a light breeze is lovely.
 
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