Bamboo Discovers American Soil

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Moso bamboo plantation Source: Master Garden Products

Who knows? Perhaps one gateway out of the economic doldrums will come from a boom – a bamboo boom.

Over a year ago, writer Harry Sawyers wrote in Popular Mechanics that bamboo has come into vogue as a green, sustainable resource – used for everything from cutting boards to clothing, wood floors, and garden plants. Once, it came almost exclusively from overseas. But new planting techniques have been developed that might open the economic doors to millions of new bamboo shoot acres, particularly in farmland on the Mississippi Delta,

The American Bamboo Society (ABS) today counts over 1,400 members living throughout the U.S. and in 37 other countries. For those who are interested, the ABS issues a bimonthly Magazine and the Journal to disseminate information about the use, care, propagation and beauty of bamboo.

Of interest, bamboo has traditionally been considered as a wood product, due to its hardness and durability. But in reality, it is a grass – considered to be the largest of the grasses. There are over 1600 species of bamboo, 64 percent of which are native to Southeast Asia. Thirty-three percent grows in Latin America, and the rest in Africa and Oceania. In North America there are only three native species of bamboo as opposed to the 440 species native to Latin America, writes Master Garden Products.

Bamboo varies in height from dwarf, one foot (30 cm) plants to giant timber bamboos that can grow to over 100 feet (30 m). It grows in many different climates, from jungles to high on mountainsides. Bamboos are further classified by the types of roots they have. Some, called runners, spread exuberantly, and others are classified as clumpers, which slowly expand from the original planting.

Author Paul Schneider has written about his love affair with bamboo and growing the grass in colder climes. “Bamboo has proven to be an aesthetic asset to our garden here in Cambridge, New York. It mixes well with many other plants both perennial and annual. Depending on the species, it can be used as a tall or medium background plant, a “statement” plant or as a low border or ground cover plant.”

Others grow bamboo more as a wood product. Schneider says that gardeners in northern climates “must be willing to accept the challenge of working with a plant that normally doesn’t grow in their climactic zone. And they must also understand that the taller bamboos will not grow to the height they would reach in Zones 5 or warmer.”

Regardless of the weather downside in the United states, spring in here in full force, always inviting planting experiments .

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Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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