Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world. Depending on soil and climate conditions, bamboo can grow up to .5 - 1 foot a day. This makes bamboo an amazing renewable resource. One plant can be harvested many times without killing the plant. That is one renewable resource and why it is so popular.
Bamboo can be made into almost anything, from flooring, rugs, stairs, scaffolding, tableware, paper, clothes hangers, furniture, to towels and more. It is even the main diet of panda bears. A bamboo grove can release 35% more oxygen than other trees. For information on eating bamboo and even a bamboo recipe click here.
It is a pioneering plant and can be grown in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agriculture. Proper harvesting does not kill the bamboo plant, so topsoil is held in place. Because of its dense litter on the forest floor it feeds topsoil, restoring healthy agricultural lands for generations to come.
Because of its wide spread root system and large canopy, bamboo greatly reduces rain run off, prevents massive soil erosion and keeps twice as much water in the watershed. Bamboo helps mitigate water pollution due to its high nitrogen consumption, making it a solution for excess nutrient uptake of waste water from manufacturing, livestock farming and sewage treatment.
To grow your own bamboo you need to know a few things. Most bamboos are happiest in a moderately acidic loamy soil. Bamboo likes mulch. Spread at least 2 inches of mulch in the area around the bamboo, and where you want the bamboo to grow. It is best not to rake or sweep up the bamboo leaves from under the plant, as they keep the soil soft, and moist, and recycle silica and other natural chemicals necessary to the bamboo.
Almost any organic material is a good mulch. Grass is one of the best, as it is high in nitrogen and silica. Commercial or even home-made compost is great. Chipped trees from tree pruning services can also be used. This can harbor pathogens that can affect some trees or shrubs, but the bamboo loves it.
The plant that has been used in Asia for centuries, but now the western world is learning the benefits of this great gift from the earth. Think bamboo. It is a very green option.
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