Big Bamboo is only as invasive as people allow it to become. Well managed, it is the best gift we can plant to give future generations a sustainable blessing.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Moso

Thanks to Steve Lau for sending this new Moso awhile back.

We had a terribly cold Winter.  Thought for sure this one had died but look behind it and to the right just a bit!  See them?

Almost mowed these new shoots but spotted them at the last second.  Looks like we're going to have a Moso forest someday! :)

Added P nigra to the yard last Fall.  It has also Winter killed but I see some tiny new shoots just poking out so there are surely more pics to come.  Stay tuned! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Planting Bamboo and Propagation Experiments

New bamboo plants arrived and were planted out.  Not quite how I was expecting them to arrive far as packaging but survive they did. 

Plots were prepared for planting prior to arrival by a non-specific organic weed/grass killer (white distilled vinegar with dish soap surfectant added).  The holes for the transplants were dug, dead plant material and roots removed and organic compost added back into the hole to compensate for removed soil and detritus.  The plants were un-potted and placed, watered in well and mulched over with a composted manure/sawdust mixture. 

Square plots, 10 x 10 ft which will eventually be all removed of weeds and grasses, bordered with something but just stakes and string for now.   The plots will contain the culms which will be left to grow while everything shooting outside the borders will be harvested except those which shoot up in the neighbor's yard.  He wants them to spread over and so he will be the one to decide how he wants to regulate.

I plan to organically fertilize and mulch heavily within the plot borders.  Here are pics of the plants as they are now in their new homes...

Notice the broken culm stub on the last pic?  That's what happens when you cram four, one-gallon pots into a small box and bend the culms around, winding them like a spring to fit in the box to save on shipping costs no doubt!  If I were to ever sell and ship any plants myself, they would be in their own box or at least a bigger box.  The P parvifolia pot was crushed and half the potting mix squished out from it.  Good thing I'm just a day away from Mississippi via UPS or it surely would have perished in the heat wave we currently enjoy.
Needless to say, I'm not impressed with my vendor's shipping practices but they still have the best online prices I could find and are close.  If all survive I suppose it was worth it.  Personally, had I known prior to ordering these, I would have probably elected to pay more money for more care in shipping.
Propagation experiments.  I read temperate, running bamboos can't be propagated via stem cuttings. That to me is an invitation to try haha!  May fail but it is in my nature to must try. If certain folks can get them to propagate via tissue culture then it must be possible for stem cuttings.  I just don't believe anybody has stumbled upon the right method yet.
On 6/29/12, upon the plant's arrival, the following experiment began.  A solution of willow limb water was already prepared and waiting.  Willow limbs contains a natural rooting hormone.  Three cups of chopped, new growth limbs were macerated into a quart of non-chlorinated water in a Vita-Mix blender. This was poured out into a half gallon jar topped up with more water and left to soak for 24 hours, material squeezed out , strained/filtered and another half gallon of water added to make one gallon of willow water solution (smells really good!).
A propagation chamber was constructed from two half-gallon plastic containers and a disc of closed cell foam (R-Board Insulation) with holes for cutting insertion.  A hydroponic air pump, hose into the bottom container and air stone supply a constant stream of air to bubble the willow water solution.

Popsicle sticks are taped to the bottom portion as a makeshift holder for the top portion to keep it from sliding off.  As of 7/1/12, the cuttings, which are secondary limbs are still looking alive with vigor. One leaf from each was removed since curling of one leaf on each cutting having more than two leaves was noted on 6/30/12 during the hottest part of the day but not evident during cooler portions of the day, indicating heat stress I suppose.

The top cover shows some condensate forming on the inner wall which is a good indication of sufficient humidity within the unit, further confirmed by lack of leaf curling which indicates the cuttings are taking up liquid.  30ml of water is being evaporated from the unit daily which is replaced by squirting water from a graduated syringe through one of the empty cutting holes in the foam.

My theory is that an aerated solution may hold better results for rooting vs simply putting the cuttings into a vase of water, growth hormones added or not. Plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen but plant roots need oxygen (aerobic conditions) to grow and thrive, not to mention keeping an aerobic solution so beneficial microbes maintain superiority against possible pathogens in the solution.

I believe it is essential when propagating anything indoors, be it mushroom cultures or plants, one must maintain healthy beneficial microbes via aerobic conditions when completely sterile conditions cannot be maintained, such as a laboratory with expensive filtering equipment would have.

Could not find any reference to the use of willow water, aerated or not in any bamboo propagation attempts. Have no idea if this will be successful or how long it may take for roots to form, if they ever will. 

Should also mention that at no time were these cuttings exposed to dry air for undue amount of time which would cause an embolism in the cutting stem, as should be with any cutting/rooting attempts of any plant.  They were labeled with breathable cloth tape prior to removal from the plant, cut with a sterilized blade right next to the internode and immediately placed into the solution.

Of the plants received, only P dulcis and P rubromarginata had sufficient limbs from which to supply more than one secondary limb cutting for the experiment (five of each). P edulis and P parvifolia supplied one each.

My hope is to eventually have well maintained plots within my yard and find other local people who would like to establish these varieties on their land and provide them plants.  Already have two willing participants!  They say bamboo is the wise man's timber.  I believe that to be true and hope to be the start of a big bamboo movement all over my area and state.  Also have big hopes for the experiment so that people everywhere can benefit from easy propagation of temperate bamboo species such as these.

Update per Steve's comment below... Installed protective fencing around edulis and parvifolia in case of deer or other critters, re-potting now for me isn't an option so I will just have to water carefully and hope they survive.  The edulis didn't look very healthy to begin with.

Also added some CFL lighting to the experiment, just a bulb and reflector.  My air pump is a four-outlet and I already had one other valve partially open to regulate bubbling and pointed it so that it blows on the light to keep any heating blown away.


Friday, June 22, 2012

My First Bamboo Crafts

Gave a piece of an old, dead, paste-wax polished culm to my neighbor a few days ago. Thought he might like a walking stick.  Turns out his wife had other plans and he asked me for a few more pieces haha!  Carmelized these with a propane torch and coated with paste wax. Brandi's new home interior decor...

And a new bamboo handle for an old blade...

It's not attached yet.  Thinking of probably putting the blade into a walking stick. Concealed weapon haha!  Self defense of course. :)

I love the scent of carmelizing bamboo.  Love doing it and how it looks.  Looks like I'm gonna have fun growing and making bamboo stuff.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Small Solar Bamboo Kiln

Current experiment from my other blog,

Love solar stuff!  Here's a cheap and I bet very effective solar kiln idea for small amounts of bamboo or other wood, or make it big as one wants...

It kind of even looks like bamboo haha!  Ok what I imagine is sections of the black metal woodstove  flue pipe from the hardware store, however long one wants, assembled with wooden rings added as spacers on the outside and simply covered with greenhouse plastic.  Caps, maybe wooden plugs on the ends or maybe foam with a vent hole or two, have to experiment and figure that out.  But I guarantee this will get hot enough just sitting out in the sun.  Fill it with stalks and just open an end to check on them periodically. 

Want it hotter?  Make a V shaped trough for it to sit in that's been lined with reflective aluminum foil and align it East/West.  Easier even would be a split piece of larger pipe with reflective lining, sort of a solar parabolic trough though not a true parabola.  Sufficient enough for our purposes I bet.

What's this got to do with boatbuilding?  Well I read we have to cure bamboo by some method. Open air seems to be too long and kiln drying seems to be my personal best option but I don't need a whole big room for it. 

I'm not sure, but knocking out the center culms with a long metal bar would seem the thing to do, to allow air flow and lessen splits.  Will try some knocked out and some not.

Update same day:  Did some price checks.  One 3ft length, 6" diameter section of black stove pipe is $8 at my local hardware store.  Not everywhere is going to have this stuff and it's more expensive than I thought originally.  Got a different, better idea.  Corrugated metal roofing sheets!  Easy to roll up into a cylinder shape and rivet edges together. New is $15 for 10ft locally.  Can spray paint the finished tube flat black.  Just happen to have two slightly used sections with a few screw holes but should work ok.  Stay tuned for updates to this post.

Update later same day:  Did I say easy to roll up into a cylinder? Anything but.  Two or better yet three people would not have any trouble throwing one of these together.  A lone fabricator must improvise.  Started out with riveting both sheets together but could not roll it by myself. Ended up removing the rivets and rolling one at a time.

If you get it this far you almost got it whipped but not quite...

Getting to that point took borrowing a length of 6" diameter PVC pipe from the water dept., used as a form to roll the material around and hold the edge with duct tape.  The pipe also serves as backing when drilling for the aluminum rivets.  Kept feeding the pipe in a bit and drilled close to where the edge was located inside...

All riveted, 19' 4"...

Overlapped 8" and double riveted all the way around and about every linear foot. Nice and snug, very lightweight right now.  Will be cutting out the plywood rings to fit over for attaching the plastic cover and painting the cylinder flat black.  Thinking maybe R-Board foam caps for the ends. Wore me smooth out for today so check back later. :)

Update 6/16/12

Trip to bamboo forest.  All I can say is wow!  It's a huge thing, almost impossible to get to and worse trying to walk out with just a few pieces.  Sorry for the cruddy cell pic...

It doesn't look so big in this pic but it's the biggest I've ever personally seen.  The grove is badly overgrown and would benefit alot by some sound management for bigger and better quality culms.  Came away with five nice pieces at 16ft to try in the kiln...

Update 6/19/12

Kiln is complete and loaded with green bamboo culms.  Pretty hot in there, 120F in just a few minutes so we'll see how hot it gets and how well it dries/cures the fresh cut culms...

Update 6/21/12

Three days in. Afternoon temps in the kiln are running about 140F.  There's alot of moisture laden heat coming out of the end vent tubes, enough to make my palm feel wet.  The fresh green culms are changing color, to be expected...

Condensate on the plastic cover about midway of the unit...

Just like my Dad's old solar vegetable dehydrator perhaps.  When there is no more condensate, they will be dry.  I'm not sure they should be bone dry, probably not.  I'll wait till there is just a bit of condensate showing and call them done. :)

Update 6/22/12

Just wanted to add a drawing to explain the addition of a reflective trough that a unit such as this could set into and way increase the solar efficiency for heating the cylinder. Here is an end view concept...

Simple enough.  A wooden frame with legs would be easy enough to add for desired height and the trough surface be covered with or made of a reflective material.  Even cheap aluminum foil would greatly increase heating.  The arrows simply show how more light energy would be directed onto the cylinder.

I estimate since the current temps now are getting up to about 140F, a reflective trough of foil would add perhaps 50 or so more degrees of heat to the unit.  A more efficient reflective surface, such as mylar or standard reflective vinyl would likely put it over 200F on a good sunny day if the trough is aligned well.  The trough would need a pivot point on both ends if set North/South to catch the sun all day or set East/West would heat good from about 9am to 6pm summertime with no pivot.

If we want to spend a little to get alot, we can do something like this deluxe model haha...

Make the ends of the trough enclosed with just a hole for the cylinder ends.  Cover the top of the trough with glass or "maybe" some quality UV resistant clear plastic but it would have to stand some heat, well, alot of heat, 200F+ I bet.  Put a small solar powered fan on one end to slightly move the air through the cylinder, might need a damper to control the air flow, or not.   Might not even need a fan with convection carrying moisture out of the cylinder ends...maybe caps for the cylinder ends also with dampering ability at the top edges of the caps?  This version would hold alot of heat in during the dark hours, especially with double pane glass.

Update 6/26/12

It's been a full week since placing the culms in the solar kiln.  I decided to remove them to see the progress. Not nearly the condensate as earlier.  They are much lighter in weight and change of color...

Wiped the wax off some sections with a towel and they shine really good! Almost like a glassy finish...

Interesting difference in the pieces I used for end vent plugs where the hot air passed through...

Other than that one plug splitting, I don't notice any splitting of any of the culms, yet, and they seem to be as straight as they were when started.  Broke my heart though and I never gave it a thought, the rivets badly scratched my two best pieces meant for a sail mast.  I suppose they could be wrapped with cord to hide the scratches and nobody but me would know.  Any more pieces put into this unit will be wrapped with something.  I'm considering scrapping the whole thing and starting over, now, knowing of the issues with this unit will make the next one alot better.

Welcome to My Big Bamboo Blog!

I love bamboo.  Not just any bamboo but BIG BAMBOO! Bigger the better.  So I'm planting some.

First, I acquired a yet to be identified species from a local friend.  Transplanted a couple of the medium-larger culms, first year growth, along with a couple of smaller bushy ones from his stand to my backyard, watered well and mulched.  Looks like the small bushy plants may die but the large culms, I had to cut half the length off to get home, look ok so far...

Perhaps someday I can get an ID on this type.  Better pics may help huh? :)

The source for new varieties shown below I've ordered is in Mississippi.  They have about the best prices I could find online and we have pretty much the same climate.  Jim was very helpful in advising me what to get that fit my criteria.  I wanted them to get big, have edible shoots, fast growing, survive in my area and strong for making stuff.  All meet each criteria except perhaps the Sweet Shoot which is not so strong but is prized for its edible shoots.  Here's what I have coming, descriptive links open in a new window...

These are all tall growing, large diameter, spreading habit bamboo types.  I don't like the word "invasive", but they will invade wherever, if not managed.  They will send out rhizomes in all directions from which new shoots will poke up out of the ground.  The ones that poke up outside my defined areas will be harvested and eaten while the ones inside will be managed into beautiful, shade producing stands of giant bamboo with multiple and beneficial uses!  Main purposes on my mind at the moment are beautiful bamboo strip canoes, complete with bamboo rigged sails and outriggers and furniture of various types, much like the rustic cedar log furniture I used to make.

Defined stands are going to be in my back yard.  Each will be a 20ft diameter circle with at least 10ft between each, probably more.  Going to be prepping these for the next few days. Stay tuned!