I've just come in from one of those periodic battles I have out back with a stand of bamboo I planted a few years ago to piss off Appalachian Power.
APCo's tree-chopping boys had come by and whacked down six newly-planted rose of sharon bushes that I'd put in to shield the back yard from the alley. They didn't tell me, didn't ask me, didn't do anything but grin, crank up the chain saw and whack merrily away. I was so mad, I could have made mulch out of the leavings of my bushes with my teeth. So, I determined I'd get even, went down to Roanoke City Market on the following Saturday, picked up a few promising bamboo plants and put them in the ground. APCo and I have been fighting them ever since. And we're both losing.
Frankly, I don't mind going out with my trimmer occasionally and cutting back the bamboo from the trash bin. I just let the rest of it grow, though, and it has to drive APCo crazy because the boys who got my rose of sharon are chopping at it several times a year.
Which leads us to a little bamboo trivia (nice segue, huh?) from the Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader, a book I find interesting on an almost daily basis:
- Bamboo is basically grass and there are 1,2oo species of it. It'll grow anywhere in any kind of soil and any climate (save the truly frigid) and I swear I've seen it growing through rocks.
- It can get big. The record is a 150-foot-tall shoot found in China (14 inches in diameter).
- Bamboo plantations are harvested every 3-5 years (softwood trees like pine take 10-20 years to mature). Bamboo growth has been clocked at two inches an hour.
- Bamboo's uses are almost limitless: you can eat it, make wine from it, serve the wine in bamboo cups, build a house with it, construct some of the best flooring available with it, turn it into soap, feed it to animals housed in bamboo pens, irrigate fields with bamboo pipes and you can eat with bamboo chopsticks.
- Bamboo is high in protein.
- Bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide than other plants and produces an equally high amount of oxygen.
- Bamboo leaf litter is so dense, it reduces evaporation and retains water in soil.
- Half the world's bamboo species are threatened. But not the ones in my back yard.