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 Post subject: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:59 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
One of the things I've always noticed with my plants is that the ones in soil that are better aerated always seem to grow better than the non-aerated ones, and I believe that it makes a difference for bamboo too. I think plants simply need to grow into air. One example of this is hydroponics where soil is not used at all, but people can still get very impressive results. On the other side, when plants are flooded, and the roots cannot get any air at all, they tend to decline as I saw on some of my plants during the mini-flood we had last week. I lost some watermelon plants, peach seedlings, and almost a blueberry plant due to the standing water which basically chokes out my plants if they aren't strong enough to handle it.

A simpler way to put it is that aerated and loose soil leaves a lot more room for roots to grow into as opposed to tough clay soil. If there is 5ft of loose soil, I believe that there will simply be more room for roots to expand into vs if it happened to be rocky clay soil where a bamboo would have to struggle to grow new roots. I've been aerating vegetables for the longest time, but I've never thought about trying it out on bamboos, but I think it's worth a shot to see what happens. My broad fork aerator still has its weakness in that it can only aerate down to 16 inches deep, and cannot help with aeration in the middle of a grove where it is the most needed. It's also doesn't get nearly as deep as bamboo roots can grow.

I have ideas of building a custom made deep aerator that can take out tubes of soil down to 3-4ft deep with the same mechanism as the bamboo slammer, but I don't have welding tools. If I made it, I would probably name it the bamboo aerator. One thing to consider if I aerate down in the middle of a grove is how I would ensure that I don't break any rhizomes. The goal is to cause roots to grow down to 4ft deep as opposed to creating a thick mat of roots in the first 8 inches of soil so you can basically get more growth above ground in the same amount of space.

Here's my basic idea. It's just taking the lawn aeration, and putting it to a much bigger scale, in doing bamboo grove aeration. Of course the holes will have to be much bigger and deeper to make a noticeable difference in bamboo.
http://edenlandscapeservice.com/lawn-ma ... e-my-lawn/

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One way is to manually aerate the soil down to 5ft, like digging a trench, but that's just not feasible.

This is why I believe that bamboo roots can grow much deeper than they typically would, and I think it's possible for them to perhaps grow 10ft or more in depth which can fuel some impressive above ground growth in a limited area which is especially useful for people with limited space, or simply want to grow huge bamboos in a small area.
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Aside from the steel broad fork, another tool I have is the garden claw which can dig a pretty big 5-6 inch diameter hole down to almost 3ft, but it takes about 4-5 minutes per aeration hole, and you will basically end up with massive holes, but it does sound like a good idea to sink a bunch of these holes in and fill that back with something loose like manure, or compost for deep soil aeration. 1 hole per 2-3 square feet should be sufficient to make change the soil composition deep below, but it is important to be careful about where it gets sunk down when going through the middle of a thick grove. It's not worth it to break some rhizomes or destroy precious shoot buds for following years.
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Last edited by stevelau1911 on Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:17 am 
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Jos van der Palen grows huge bamboo in a cool summer climate, with cold winters and in small spaces without the 'bamboo aerator' or poking deep holes in the ground so even if what you propose will help it seems unnecessary to achieve results.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:27 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
I really want to know how he does it because I'm guessing that his climate shouldn't be much different than the climate that I am in myself. I wonder if he simply has very good soil in his gardens that already go down many feet deep. Soil gradually transitions into hard clay when you get more than 1ft deep into soil around here.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:51 am 
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Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Key to deeper roots is bamboo water starvation. It will go deeper, searching for water, heat and fertile soil. Usually it seeks for the first two.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:51 am 
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Location: Seabeck, Washington Zone 8b Elevation: 531 Feet
It sounds like you have a drainage issue if plants are drowning in standing water after heavy rain.

Have you thought about planting in raised beds? It would seem like you could have the most perfectly aerated soil thats 5ft deep, but if its not raised higher than the surrounding poorly draining clay on the sides and bottom wouldn't it still fill up with water like a big mudpuddle after heavy rain?

I would guess that my soil is naturally pretty aerated there is no noticeable clay in my soil, it's mostly sand and rocks, excellent drainage & easy to dig in except when you hit a huge boulder :x . My soil lacks enough organic material though since its glacial till, so I plant alot of my bamboos and other plants in raised piles of compost and let the earthworms do the work for me. Once the worms have done their job my soil is nice and dark & very friable when I dig in it.

This is the scientific description of my dirt. :)
https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/OSD ... ELTON.html


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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:32 am 
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Location: HALIFAX, NS
needmore wrote:
Jos van der Palen grows huge bamboo in a cool summer climate, with cold winters and in small spaces without the 'bamboo aerator' or poking deep holes in the ground so even if what you propose will help it seems unnecessary to achieve results.



I wouldn't call winters in Holland cold, even at Jos'. Yes they can get what seem like cold temps but they are so short-lived they hardly compare with what we get here or Steve can get in Rochester. I'd gladly trade winters any day.

Growing Phyllos in barrier-contained soil must be comparable to growing them in a big pot, at some point they must get terribly potbound and the soil depleted. Surely Jos" must have an intense top-dressing and fertilizing programme to keep them in such tip top shape?

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:57 am 
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Location: Island off Cape Cod Massacusetts
Many areas in North America have a hard pan in sub soil caused by weight of glaciers. In some areas, depending on what type of material (fine silts and clays) and history of land use and erosion in past, this hard pan can vary in depth. If it is shallow enough to be in or near root zone, any plants, including bamboo, will benefit from aeration or breaking of hard pan.

Bamboo is different than a lot of plants in that you can pile significant amounts of material into planting and not hurt existing grove. Newer culms will find surface and benefit from new material esp if compost or other organic matter.


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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:03 pm 
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Well, I call places that have the potential every winter for subzero F temps to be cold.

Dependable makes a god point that bamboo rhizomes & roots will rise up if you add good texture/organics to the soil so Steve it would seem that bamboo prefers the best soil and will go up if that is where the good soil is so the plant doesn't seem to need to go deep either. Here I have the compacted glacial soils you mention, mostly clay that in some spots is young rock at about 16 inches deep.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:55 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
dependable wrote:
Many areas in North America have a hard pan in sub soil caused by weight of glaciers. In some areas, depending on what type of material (fine silts and clays) and history of land use and erosion in past, this hard pan can vary in depth. If it is shallow enough to be in or near root zone, any plants, including bamboo, will benefit from aeration or breaking of hard pan.

Bamboo is different than a lot of plants in that you can pile significant amounts of material into planting and not hurt existing grove. Newer culms will find surface and benefit from new material esp if compost or other organic matter.


That sounds exactly like the conditions here where there's a steep change in soil composition around 8-12 inches into the soil which seems to be keeping the bamboo roots growing very shallow. I'm not sure if poking some holes through that harder soil can get the roots to get much deeper all throughout, but it's worth a shot, especially on my dulcis which has barely spread at all after being in the ground for 5 years.


I've been top dressing quite a bit, but probably not enough to really increase the amount of soil that the roots can grow in. I think I may want to do some top dressing after aerating them deep so the roots can expand a bit up, and a lot down too. I might also want to get rid of some of the smaller culms in my dulcis and atrovaginata to free up some room for new shoots to emerge. Parvifolia appears to be saving up energy this year with its weak shooting season so I'll avoid touching that one.

This claw is at least 5 inches in diameter so I may have to sacrifice some of the roots in order to get greater growth in the long run. I'll probably post some pictures of it.



Here's another tool that may be useful with all the extensions, but I'm nut sure if getting aeration down to 17ft really makes a difference, or if bamboo roots can grow that deep.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:08 pm 
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Location: Island off Cape Cod Massacusetts
If you think you do have a hard pan, also called fragi-pan, maybe dig a hole somewhere to see how thick it is. When planting trees for people, we try to punch though it so roots will get proper drainage. Sometimes the hard pan is 12 to 24 inches thick, and ends when a different layer is hit.

It would be a shame to expend a lot of effort with your hand tool claw, but not break though and solve the problem.

I am not sure I agree that removing culms encourages bigger ones. I think you may be just removing some of the plant's bio mass and ability to build up energy.


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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:22 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
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Our layer of clay is closer to 1ft in thickness, maybe a bit more in some areas, and it turns into sandy soil, different from the top layer under the fragi-pan layer. The 3ft garden claw, or weasal is long enough to punch through the layer, but I'm nut sure if roots can get down into the layer and root out within the clay.

The only reason I plan on removing some atrovaginata culms is because it's getting way to thick in there, and there may be less and less room for large shoots to come out as the grove doesn't expand fast enough to prevent it from getting very thick. The small older culms simply become a liability when they no longer get any sunlight being shaded out by the larger new culms because all they do is transpire water, and take up space.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:49 am 
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Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
This year I have soil that is way too aerated. Mice, voles and moles made sure there's around 50:50 soil:air ratio. :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:52 am 
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Quote:
stevelau1911 wrote:
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Our layer of clay is closer to 1ft in thickness, maybe a bit more in some areas, and it turns into sandy soil, different from the top layer under the fragi-pan layer. The 3ft garden claw, or weasal is long enough to punch through the layer, but I'm nut sure if roots can get down into the layer and root out within the clay.

The only reason I plan on removing some atrovaginata culms is because it's getting way to thick in there, and there may be less and less room for large shoots to come out as the grove doesn't expand fast enough to prevent it from getting very thick. The small older culms simply become a liability when they no longer get any sunlight being shaded out by the larger new culms because all they do is transpire water, and take up space.
If your making it through, then at least your plants will have drainage, even if the roots don't go there. Worth it if drainage has been a problem for you.

Old shaded culms are another story I guess.

I would add that there is a dense layer of silt and kaolinite under most of my place, and most of my bamboos are planted well above it in what were initially compost berms. Even where drainage is ok, the soil is mostly poor, undeveloped, acidic woods (barely) loam. Nothing like a couple or few feet of compost on top to get things going.


Last edited by dependable on Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:50 pm 
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Location: zone 3a-4b
I use deep rooted cover crops, organic mulch and no chemicals to help aeration. I also never ever step on my soil or till it either. Basically i encourage as much soil life as I possibly can. Using organic mulch and ground covers protects the bare soil from compaction from rain, as well as shading it from baking in the sun. This causes more life to go closer to the soil, where its cool and moist. I cant move mulch around without seeing dozens of worm holes or worms and bugs. Every year the soil gets looser and looser and gets more and more tilth.

plants I use as ground covers are lupin, strawberry, an array of herbs, white/red clover, comfrey, nausturium, bush beans (a good excuse to grow some!), alliums (garlic, onions, chives etc), radish, and anything that is edible/useful and stays low, or that i can cut down and use as fodder/mulch.

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 Post subject: Re: Aeration
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 2:55 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
I put in 4 evenly placed holes on both bicolor and dulcis as far as my arm could reach as I can't quite get to the 37 inch depth that the tool is capable of, but I got pretty close to the point where the tool was almost all the way down inside the holes. I filled it with some fluffy grass clippings. Down near the 3ft depth, it's already under the water table making it kind of difficult to work. These holes end up about 6 inches in diameter.

I would need more holes on parvifolia or atrovaginata to get good aeration, but my claw cannot break through the root mass on those which is definitely a problem, but I've also learned in producing these holes that the soil down to about 1.5ft in depth under my bicolor has improved in quality to the point where it is no longer completely clay since so much organic materials have been added on top. I guess top dressing does improve the soil quality down below.

I do intend to eventually get my broad fork to loosen up the soil on top, but the soil is so moist so that I can't even cause air pockets under the soil with it as they would close up right away. The clay soil does seem surprisingly workable when the soil is consistently wet.

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