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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
Location: --------------- SW Missouri
Climate Region: ----- on the border of 5 to 6
variety: ----------------- Phyllostachys aureosulcata AKA yellow groove
Soil type: -------------- Rocky clay over limestone strata at depth of maybe 10 feet typically
Sun Exposure: ------- Full to partial shade

I have been experimenting with bamboo which I obtained from an established local grove. We wanted something to provide a visibility screen for the sewage lagoon and something for a privacy screen and dust screen along the gravel road in front of our place.

The soil was better near the sewage lagoon and I suspect that even though the grove is12 feet away and on ground 7 feet higher, that it likely has some roots that reach to the locally elevated water table caused by the lagoon. This grove has prooved to be immune to the drought. This grove is in its 3rd year and has reached a height of 20 feet.

We have three groves along the road. Two are in their third year and one was just planted this year from rhizomes with sprouts transplanted this spring. The drought has been hard on all our garden and landscaping plants with temperatures in the sun reaching between 105 and 115 for all but about 3 days in July, and no significant rain since early to mid June. I expect the established bamboo might have survived without watering but I am trying to develop the groves along the road and they were suffering. The one by the sewage lagoon is thriving without any care required, Need I wonder why :wink: So I have been watering the ones by the road every few days when the leaves get tightly rolled.

Ok, here is the experimental part. And I am wondering what those who are more experienced think the results will be.
-- The groves along the road were planted as separate plants about 5 feet apart and 20 feet from the road. Any closer to the road that the soil was extremely hard.
-- I wanted the groves to advance toward the road so when I fertilized using (13-13-13) I applied it close around the plants and on the road side of the plants for several feet toward the road. The grove with the best plants expanded by 7 to 10 feet this spring with shoots about 6 to 8 feet tall toward the road and only a few rhizomes invading on the lawn side (those provided some of the transplants for the new grove) The tallest plants this year are about 14 feet tall in the most established part of that grove where typically the plants are 8 to 10 feet tall.
-- The other two groves also expanded toward the road but not so spectacularly and i think the soil there is poorer.
-- My understanding is that the variety I have prefers loose soil and most of the rhizomes will be only about 6 inches deep. This seems to be borne out based on my digging up rhizomes for transplant this last spring.
-- Selective fertilization seems to have been at least moderately effective in directional control of the grove development.
-- Based on my experience with selective fertilization and the need for watering the grove during this drought, it occurred to me that watering might give a similar type of control to the development direction of the grove.
-- So, as well as watering directly into the midst of the grove, I have been watering on the road side of the grove and at the ends. I hope to increase the thickness of the groves and also help them to grow towards each other to close the gaps in my privacy/dust screen.

And now the question for the more experienced bamboo growers:
Do you think my selective watering technique will prove effective. My thoughts have been that I could tempt the bamboo growth on the basis of "You want it? Here it is. Come and get it" It did seem that the plants at the ends of the groves were doing better as they seemed to open their tightly rolled leaves more and sooner than the other bamboo.

Of course the real proof of the pudding will be to see where the shoots come up next spring, Our normal water usage for our household (just the wife and me) is about 100 gallons per day when we are not watering a garden. In july that increased to 500 gallons per day. Normally I would expect the garden to take an extra 50-60 gallons per day but this is not normal weather. If my bamboo is not stunted by the drought I will be satisfied. If it actually expands in the direction I have been watering I will be very happy. If nothing else, the watering helps meet one growth characteristic of the bamboo, namely it likes soft soil, and the otherwise dry hard clay softens very well when it is wet; otherwise it is like a brick.

So wadda ya think? Am I steering the grove growth or just wasting water. Has anyone else ever done this?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 9:14 pm
Posts: 4606
Location: Esparto, CA
Bamboo Society Membership: ABS - America
I think there is a decent chance it will work and I bet you can vastly increase the success by dumping bags of soil on the road side - go deep, even cheap bag soil will help. The combo of water, fert and 'softer' soil I suspect will lure them in.

Brad Salmon, zone 9 Esparto, CA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
needmore wrote:
I bet you can vastly increase the success by dumping bags of soil on the road side - go deep, even cheap bag soil will help.

For the moment I am focusing on the cheap and lazy approach. As my groves develop, their own leaf drop and what they gather as the fall winds or lawn mower blow more in is creating a rich organic bed. As long as the soil is wet, it stays soft, and that organic bed then keeps it moist and soft. Oh, did I mention that I have a bad back? :( The thought of moving bags of soil is very unattractive. :roll: But if it becomes necessary, I suppose I might find a way. The other possibility is that the electrical co-op genererates large amounts of chopped / chipped branches & brush. I did put a bunch of that on the roadside groves as mulch, and I may be able to get some more. After it rots for a year it is a mix of fine and course material. I could probably even get them to dump a load right along the roadside by the groves. Then with a pitchfork and some lumbar discomfort I could distribute it.

Here is a picture of what the week of subzero weather and high winds did to my best grove by the sewage lagoon two winters ago when it was about 6 feet tall.
Main_Grove_600x288.JPG [ 72.22 KiB | Viewed 1944 times ]

All the tops were dead, but the root structure survived just fine, and when spring came so did all the new shoots and it grew to about 12 feet and then this year the new shoots grew to 20 feet.

This variety is reputed to grow to 30 feet with a possible maximum of 45 (at least from what I read from suppliers), however from what I read it I am probably at the northern part of its range with poor soil so that might keep it a little shorter. This is important to me as part of the bamboo grows where there is a power line and if I got a bunch of the 45 foot high stuff, I would have to do some trimming.

PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
Well spring has sprung and my bamboo is shooting so it is time to post again. So far my scheme to encourage directional growth of my bamboo is not yet showing progress but it is a little early.

Well developed shooting of my bamboo has only occurred with one grove and that has not expanded in the watered and fertilized directions from back in the drought. The one end is a little rocky but that is where I most needed expansion of the grove so I went ahead and started digging up the shoots which were were I did not want them and planting them where I wanted them. About 100 lbs of dirt and shoots is all I can handle so I started digging and hauling. But first I had to attack the expansion zone. This spring we were blessed with a good used 22 hp tractor and a 4 foot wide tiller suited to our size operation.

For expanding the grove in question the tiller was what made the issue practical because the ground where I wanted to make a 5'x12' expansion is quite rocky. I could allow the tiller tines to just graze the ground so that instead of trying to pound the rocks into the ground the tiller tines could sort of roll them out of the ground. Albeit it flung some of them 20 to 30 feet into the lawn. The tiller got out all but the 4 largest. Those required a shovel and pry bar.

The second picture shows the rocks from the zone. The zone appears a bit-fore shortened and scattered dirt make it look wider than the outlines. The rock in the foreground came from that little plot. The large stones at the end are bigger than my head and had to be rolled once they were pried loose, (my back will not accommodate that much weight). I plan on moving about 3 more clumps into the zone parallel to the first 3.

What is odd about my land is shown in the 3rd picture. The plot about 70 feet away that I have outlined is my new 30x30 garden, and in that 900 square feet I did not even get half a 5 gallon bucket of rocks the largest of which was only about half the size of my head and the rest were baseball size or smaller. All the open land that I have sampled beyond that is essentially rock free. Just my luck that where I needed to put the grove is full of boulders.

As to my project to fertilize & water where I want the grove to expand, there were no roots to be found in the 5x12 zone, I guess my bamboo does not like hard rocky ground, although I encountered plenty of fist sized rocks digging up those clumps.

The grove I am extending is my most vigorous and the ones out by the road are a bit stunted by the poorer soil there. They are running about a week behind this grove in development of shoots. I did get the type of expansion I wanted from those groves a year ago, so it is a bit early to tell if they are going to grow the way I wanted and watered and fertilized during the drought. I will try to keep you posted on future developments to see if the bamboo there could be bribed to grow the direction I wanted again this year.

013_Coming+Going.jpg [ 78.18 KiB | Viewed 1632 times ]
130430_Grove_Expansion.JPG [ 234.36 KiB | Viewed 1632 times ]
130430_Rock_Density_Comparison.JPG [ 199.44 KiB | Viewed 1632 times ]
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