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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:39 am 
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Location: SW Missouri USA
In the thread at http://www.bambooweb.info/bb/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6432&sid=f4065229cfe11fcdce76112f6e0aa1e1 we were discussing getting my grove to fill in certain areas around the perimiter that it just did not move into after a few years, leaving me with pockets in the side of the grove that were filled with weeds. The diagnosis was that the soil there was not only poor but very hard packed and that it would need to be loosened. It was also suggested that about now the bamboo would be developing rhizomes that will shoot next spring. So what follows is my experiment to loosen up the soil, enrich it and see if I can get the stuff to fill out the grove.

This is my soil loosening equipment. That is 200 lb of concrete on the front to help balance the 569 lb tiller hanging off the back.
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Tractor+Tiller.JPG
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These two images show the areas to be loosened and improved.
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Road_Side_Areas.jpg
Road_Side_Areas.jpg [ 156.04 KiB | Viewed 2178 times ]

The portions above the red lines are the areas that I need the bamboo to fill in and the rest of what got tilled was basically just a bit of land contouring. After tilling the areas were raked to smooth them, fertilized with a mix of 46-0-0 urea and 13-13-13 to get a high nitrogen but somewhat balanced fertilizer. The areas were then wet down heavily.

While tilling I was concerned that I might tear up a large number of existing rhizomes if I had misjudged the time of rhizome development. It appears that the worry was unfounded. This picture shows all but one of the pieces of rhizome the tiller turned up and there was about twice as much area tilled as shown above.
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Rhizomes.JPG
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I found these while raking and threw them in a bucked of water because the 100 degree heat had dried the ground and was quite harsh. I then placed them along the outer edge of one of the areas so that if they sprout I will be able to identify them.

Some of the clods turned up by the tiller were indiscernible from stones until they were hit and broke. they were simply hard soil with a lot of clay. The purpose of the experiment is to see what effect loosening of the soil has on encouraging rhizomes and sprouting. I have done the fertilizing thing before without any real benefit on this grove. Tune in next spring for the results.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:13 pm 
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Interesting to see what happens with this!

I've seen that hard-packed clay soils can be loosened and revitalized by thick layers of organic materials, typically straw. Put it on thick (6" or more), leave it on for a season, keep it somewhat moist, and the earthworms do all of the work.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:52 am 
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Interesting thread, and the opposite of the person that does not want more rhizomes.

The rhizomes should be running now until the late fall. Your stands look pretty good to me as they are though... ;)

I would have fertilized the bamboos with the 13/13/13 and not used the urea this late in the year. Nitrogen is highly soluble in water, and it will be leeched out of the soil before the bamboo can grow rhizomes and then root out and harvest nutrients from the soil. New bare running rhizomes are not going to pick up any nutrients from the soil. You want to feed the bamboo that is rooted now to give them more energy to send out more rhizomes. Then in the spring after the rhizomes root in the new tilled beds, feed them the nitrogen.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:14 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
I find it surprising too that it's not running fast enough for you. How many years have you had the grove for?

I think that mixing in a few truckloads of compost to improve the soil, and top dressing the area with wood mulch would definitely make the grove take over that amount of area pretty quickly. Perhaps your soil simply doesn't hold a lot of water.

Your bamboo culms look pretty short, but that grove does look like it's already taking up a decent amount of space with a large number of culms. Wouldn't it fill in that area naturally in about 2 more years? It just doesn't look like any further pampering is necessary since it should run pretty fast on its own.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:59 pm 
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Location: SW Missouri USA
stevelau1911 wrote:
I find it surprising too that it's not running fast enough for you. How many years have you had the grove for?
The grove in the picture is one of the first that I planted and it is the one that has made he slowest progress. I planted those 4 groves 5 years ago.
-- The one in the back yard is now about 30 feet tall and the most developed by far.
-- The second most developed grove is the other one that I planted by the road about 30 feet from the one pictured and it is not yet 20 feet tall but it is growning well and shooting vigorously each spring.
-- The one in the picture is about 8 feet tall.
-- The 4th grove was subsequently planted at the same time with the scraps left over from the first 3 with bits and pieces for which I had little hope or expectation of performance The ground is a little lower there and a little darker and it now exceeds the grove in the picture and is about 15 feet tall.
All 4 groves were planted from the same plants dug at the same time from the same grove about 10 miles away.

The extremes of the results are shown in the following picture.
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Strongest_vs_Weakest_Groves.jpg
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My house sits on a ridge which has probably been subject to rain water leaching for centuries. The garden plots up by the house have been poor producers. This year I established a new garden behind the house on lower ground an the results have been stunning. The weather is surely part of that but I don't believe it is all. The least developed grove is the one with the pockets of no growth that I tilled up.

Site preparation for the house (20-25 years ago) may have involved scraping the ridge into the back yard, that would be consistent with the soil variations I see.
stevelau1911 wrote:
I think that mixing in a few truckloads of compost to improve the soil, and top dressing the area with wood mulch would definitely make the grove take over that amount of area pretty quickly.
Since this is our retirement home we operate on a retirment budget and while that allowed for a lot of house remodling the landscaping budget is not that great. Bamboo from a local grove was chosen because it had a proven record in this climate and the soil of the region. From my digging experience of that bamboo, it is pretty evident that he soil there was at least superficially not much different, i.e. a clay type soil with plenty of rocks.

stevelau1911 wrote:
Perhaps your soil simply doesn't hold a lot of water.
That is probably part of the problem and also clay when it does hold water can hold it so tightly that the plants can have a hard time getting it. The moisture held by clay does contribute to the more rapid bacterial digestion of organic matter thereby returning the soil to a mineral state of poor tilth. Or at least that is how my gardening books describe the problem and recommend the incorporation of sand to keep the soil looser and prevent the rapid destruction of organic content.

stevelau1911 wrote:
Your bamboo culms look pretty short, but that grove does look like it's already taking up a decent amount of space with a large number of culms.
The previous pictures don't show the problem as well as I had hoped, which is why I went out this morning and took the one above. The grove is unquestionably the "rattiest" of all that I have planted. It has been the slowest to progress and the pockets it would not fill in have been prominent pockets of weeds for the last 2 years.

######################
ShmuBamboo wrote:
Interesting thread, and the opposite of the person that does not want more rhizomes.

I am aware of that apparent oddity. However, I have the luxury of plenty of space to work with and the zone in which I planted most of the bamboo along the road. those groves sit on an embankment about 4 feet above the road. If the bamboo grows right up to the road, it will be fine with me. but what little bit of a ditch is probably where it will stop due to the work by the road grader. I am informed that a gravel road is one of the barriers that bamboo is unlikely to invade: to dry, to hard, to infertile, and traffic. The groves were deliberately situated so that I can mow their boarders. In the spring if there is a line of shoots extending from the grove where I don't want it to go.
-- I cut it off at the grove boundary
-- I dig what I want for transplants
-- I mow any remaining shoots
It seems to work quite well for controlling the grove. But I do not have the grove growing up against anything where I do not have free access. That is not too hard to do when you have plenty of space. My only concern is the bamboo growing up to the power wires. Bamboo is not much of a threat to the power wires in a rural area, The REA power co-op lets trees grow up to surround the wires so long as the growth is not heavy branches that could break wires in a storm and then sends out crews to cut them back every 3 years or so. The bamboo actually will prevent tree growth so it should not be a real problem. The grove can be topped off like a hedge if it gets too close to the wires.
ShmuBamboo wrote:
You want to feed the bamboo that is rooted now to give them more energy to send out more rhizomes. Then in the spring after the rhizomes root in the new tilled beds, feed them the nitrogen.
My regular treatment is to provide fall and spring fertilizations for the groves I am in need of encouraging. So your advice sounds good and I should probably proceed with the "fall" feeding at this time. Can you offer some advice as to what blend of fertilizer will encouraged energy storage and rhizomes production. The fertilizing I aready did was limited to only those peripheral areas I tilled and not to the grove per se.


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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 12:45 am 
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Location: SW Missouri USA
Ok so I have not visited here recently, but all of the above tricks to try to encourage the grove to spread in the direction I wanted it to failed. Then this spring I did one thing more. I limed it pretty heavily and yes I specifically limed it on the direction I wanted it to advance in as well as liming the existing grove.

IT WORKED LIKE GANGBUSTERS

The grove is putting up culms larger and taller than ever before. I limed it to the east and the rhizomes on that side are putting up culms and I had doubted that there were even rhizomes there. What is more impressive is that I had only limed it 3 to 4 weeks before sprouting I was careful not to lime it on the west side and there is no significant sprouting there. The grove had previously had some indentations that would not fill in and they are filling in now. surrounded on three sides by bamboo, surely those indentations must have had rhizomes in them but nothing sprouted there until now!

So now I am guessing that the bamboo just does not want to invade acid soil but goes nuts when the ph is high enough. This suggests that there is a way to guide development of a grove.

So maybe it would be cheaper if your bamboo is going under the fence to buy your neighbor a bunch of azaleas to plant on his side of the fence and the necessary soil amendment to acidify the soil to suit the taste of the azaleas and place it off limits to the bamboo ??? It might prove cheaper than rhizome barriers and excavation and killing off the rhizomes that have already crossed the fence. I would think it would be worth an experiment. Not to mention buying your neighbor flowers is always a nice peace offering.


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