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 Post subject: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:27 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
I suppose this belongs here because I am enough of a newbie that everything I do with Bamboo is still experimental. Philosophically I am committed to running bamboo as I like the concept of the vitality of a plant that does not have to be coddled to get it to propagate, and from what I can tell it is not all that hard to confine a running bamboo, (though I recognize that a few more years could prove me to be hopelessly wrong :shock: )

Ok, that being said, I have observed that my yellow groove (phyllostachys Aureosulcata) seems to have an above ground trick for extending its groves. It leans outward and shades its immediate border to make its claim on the adjacent ground, and however well that works with other plants, it is exceedingly effective against the attack of my lawnmower. The branches of leaves on the outside develop strongly because of plenty of sun and the whole plant leans outward due to the weight. In order to keep it at bay, I take a bit of time to trim its leaves. Before trimming it looks like this first image.
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The primary tools of this task of grove management are these.
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Tools.JPG
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The primary tool is the manual hedge shear, the others are for managing the after mess, and the pitchfork is by far the most versatile as it can be used as a rake (superior if the clipping falls in long grass or weeds) and the pitchfork is most useful for carrying away large amounts of clippings. The rake greatly enhances the carrying ability of the fork if they are used together like tongs to carry a much larger batch of clippings.

The hedge shears are used to go up the sides of the culms taking off the leafy branches and can be inserted into the grove about 3 ranks of culms deep to take off the leafy branches extending out from the inner culms. This keep the inner culms from leaning out the outer ones and pushing them down and out. The shears give me an upward reach of 9 to 10 feet. If it is necessary to take off a culm, a few strong attempts and the shears can take off most any of them.


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
Ok, Snip Snip Clip Clip and an hour passes and the west side of the grove now looks like this.
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After_Trimming.JPG
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Of course there is the clean up to tend to but I will have use for that stuff. And clip and snip again and the east side looks like this.
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East_Side.JPG
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Now I can mow right up to the side of the grove. And what about the rhizomes that were running out from the sides of the grove? Well the ones that I did not dig up for planting elsewhere were cut off with my 15 lb digging bar that has a blade on one end, and the only shoots that they put up after that were skipy little things and they seem to give up after just a few mowings.

The east side is shown after clean up, and this picture shows my current manner of dealing with the clippings.
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Bamboo_Mulch.JPG
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I now have a batch of mulch that will keep my squash off the ground and suppress weeds and be tilled under before next spring planting. Of course If I had goats, they would never forgive me if I did not give the clippings to them.

Please feel free to comment on my technique for controlling the spread of my grove and make any suggestions that you have to offer which might reduce my bamboo ignorance and help me to better manage this beautiful and useful plant.


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2011 7:18 pm
Posts: 375
Location: Toronto (north)
I think your technique works well. Simple and effective. Bamboo is not scary if you pay attention to them. It's when they're neglected that the horror begins.

My plantings are still very small and in a very confined area. They're not controlled in anyway...yet. Every single leave counts at this point in time.


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
A couple more days have passed and now I have deployed my bamboo mulch:
Attachment:
Bamboo_Leaf_Mulch.JPG
Bamboo_Leaf_Mulch.JPG [ 367.99 KiB | Viewed 3764 times ]

The coarse stems of the bamboo branches are fine enough to be easily incorporated into the soil by tilling next spring but resilient and coarse enough to keep the squash from being in the mud when it rains. The leaves on those stems should provide good shading of the soil, and since the stems won't root there is no risk of the mulch adding weeds to the garden like other mulches might.

Elsewhere on this site you may see a picture of my bamboo pole bean teepees. Now the beans are climbing but when I had gotten the teepees put up, it was obvious that I had made the poles way too long and I might find myself with high altitude unreachable beans.
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Bean_Tipis.JPG
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However as the last picture shows I have added a bamboo lattice work from the small culms that I took off when trimming the grove. The plan is that when the pole beans reach the level of the apex of the teepee we will direct them out along the lattice.
Attachment:
Arbor Lattice.JPG
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So then we will have a bean arbor. Hopefully my wife will be able to reach the beans this way or at least I can and we may even get to pick them in the shade.

Close examination will show my ingenious (or one could say lazy) way of making the lattice. The joints are made by "tying" them with masking tape. It is quick, non slip and fully biodegradable. I have used this technique for other plants (grape vines, tomatoes) and the tape lasts the entire summer and by next spring can be easily broken at pruning time for the grapes. If more strength is desired at critical joints, then strips of duct tape are used.


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:13 pm
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Location: St. Louis area Location Details
Nice! Can't wait to see photos in a month. :)

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My blog: It's not work, it's gardening!


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:07 pm
Posts: 613
Location: Southern New Jersey 7b about 5 mins from Philadelphia, PA
Very nice! You've got everything under control and you are using the cut bamboo very well.

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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:28 am
Posts: 1138
Location: Island off Cape Cod Massacusetts
dgoddard wrote:

Ok, that being said, I have observed that my yellow groove (phyllostachys Aureosulcata) seems to have an above ground trick for extending its groves. It leans outward and shades its immediate border to make its claim on the adjacent ground.


P vivax and P nigra seem employ this 'trick' on to an extreme of almost horizontal growth in low light situations, then grow strait when culms are tall enough to reach light directly. I doubt the plant is thinking about it, but is an interesting adaptation.

If your groves ever get so big that your time is short, Stihl makes a nice gas hedge trimmer 'on a stick' that would make short (but noisy) work of the shearing job.


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:22 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
dependable wrote:
If your groves ever get so big that your time is short, Stihl makes a nice gas hedge trimmer 'on a stick' that would make short (but noisy) work of the shearing job.
I am aware of this device. Actually there are 2 that they make. The more expensive one can be set at different angles to the shaft. I have one of their straight shaft string trimmers, and the straight sold shaft is required for most of their interesting cutting heads such as this. I have considered that if my grove under the power line ever gets to growing too tall that the adjustable angle hedge trimmer might be the the cat's meow for pruning the top.

However:
I am old enough to remember that when the U.S. Military was in Vietnam they had great trouble clearing bamboo and came up with a chain saw that had projections along the bar so it would cut slender bamboo. I wonder how well the Stihl hedge cutters would work on bamboo. Probably ok, but before making such an investment I would like to know if anyone has tried it.

And while I am on the topic of cutting heads for string trimmers that might be useful in managing bamboo, They make a variety of cutting blades for their solid/straight shaft trimmers with a variety of tooth styles ranging from what looks like a typical circular saw blade to a 3 bladed cutter that looks like a 3 point star.
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I was wondering if anyone had found any of these useful for managing/trimming/thinning bamboo. That circular saw blade #10 looks like it could take off culms flush with the ground up to some very large sizes.


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:38 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 9:14 pm
Posts: 4446
Location: Esparto, CA
Bamboo Society Membership: ABS - America
I thinned out old canes on a bissetii grove and it left a grove with canes all about the same size and essentially no branches lower than 8' or so - those in the photos are from nearby potted plants. I really like the look and my wife keeps commenting on it, unfortunately it no longer fully conceals the LP gas tank but looks so nice that you don't really notice it. I can't get a decent photo of the thing though it is too close to the house. If I had time I might limb up other groves like this but this particular bissetii gets only a few hours direct sun on the tips and none down low so it doesn't bother with low branches anymore - no pruning needed!

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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:41 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 9:14 pm
Posts: 4446
Location: Esparto, CA
Bamboo Society Membership: ABS - America
I used to have the blade #9 but never trimmed bamboo with it then, my impression is that it is too violent to make clean cuts. I did buy another straight shaft Sthil so I could add a blade for cutting shrubby bamboo back but haven't done it yet, maybe I'll go ahead and experiment on pruning as well, I do like #10's looks.

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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:11 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:09 am
Posts: 56
Location: SW Missouri USA
needmore wrote:
I do like #10's looks.
I hope you have as well informed a seller as I did at the small engine shop. He pointed out that Stihl has instructed him not to sell just any straight shaft trimmer with some of those blades without certain other upgrades to protect against dangerous "kick backs". And they have to be installed correctly for right or left hand use. You may find something about it in the manual.

I would vote for #10 to be best able to take down woody trunks, but also I think it would make the most severe deep cuts in a boot or ankle :shock: Hence the anti kick back add ons (fortunately not very expensive especially in an initial purchase because the blade guard is a substitute for the standard one).

I got the #8 blade for clearing under fences and found it to be very cleverly designed. The cutting tips are slightly rounded so unless you violently swing it into something like a steel fence post or a rock the blade may throw a spark or two but it will bounce itself away and not dull the cutting edges. I have taken off 1 inch oak saplings at a single swing with it, so it is no wuss. And it is the cat's meow for what grows around here called "buck brush" and it is very efficient for Sumac. It is the tool of choice for large semi-woody weeds like the 6' rag weed that grows around the sewage lagoon (lots of water and plant nutrients don'tcha know :wink: ) But I am sure that #10 would be worth a try where there are lots of small branches but its kick back potential is at a maximum.


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 Post subject: Re: Trimming Bamboo
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:28 am
Posts: 1138
Location: Island off Cape Cod Massacusetts
Someone was wondering how the Sthil (htx?100)(the number is worn off mine) 'hedge trimmer on a stick' would do with bamboo. It easily cuts culms up to 1/2 inch thick and woody stuff like oak of the same diameter. Thicker stuff it will cut but you sort of have to let it saw though it. I was just sheering back some bissetii culms that were leaning over and touching my shop and I remembered this thread.


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