Category Archives: Bamboo in the garden

Bamboo maintenance, harvesting, and storage

The bamboo is shooting!

fresh bamboo shoots

Freshly harvested bamboo shoots

The onset of the monsoon has inspired the small bamboo to start shooting. Shoots are sprouting up within the grove and all through the lawn metres from the grove. Apparently, a good way to control bamboo is to eat it.

For the variety of bamboo being harvested here, I found the optimum size of the shoots to be about 20 cm high. Any smaller and the yield is a mere mouthful. Any larger and the shoots start to get a bit fibrous.

fresh bamboo shoots

The inner heart of the shoots

There are some helpful instructions for peeling and cutting the shoots in this short YouTube vid posted by Suburban Foragers.

The inner heart of the bamboo should be soaked, or boiled, or both, depending on who is telling the story. I do not have the definitive answer on this. Some folk say the soaking and/or boiling is to remove the bitter taste and some say it is to remove the hydrocyanic acid present in some varieties of bamboo.

The Life with Bamboo hybrid method

Even though the bamboo I’m using is not bitter when raw, I opted for a just-in-case method and soaked AND boiled the shoots. The shoots were soaked overnight in water, and then boiled for 20 minutes. Bamboo shoots will keep for up to two weeks covered in the water in the fridge. Change the water daily. Or freeze the prepared shoots.

The first batch of shoots that I harvested, were just dropped into a butter chicken dish near the end of cooking. As a vegetable, the shoots were delightfully crisp and tender. Nutritionally, they are good source of dietary fibre, potassium, and some other minerals.

The dogs love them too, raw, if I peel the outer leaves off for them. And the horses.

Soon I’ll post some bamboo shoot recipes. Do you have a favourite bamboo shoot recipe?

Creating a walk-through bamboo forest

Bamboo forest

Photo credit: Roger Walch

A bamboo forest is a restful place.

I have created my own walk-through bamboo forest. While not on the awesome scale of the giant forests of moso bamboo one might find in Japan, say, or Taiwan, it is not without delight.

The bamboo here was planted over 30 years ago. The grove I have been working in has not had any maintenance lavished upon it except for a yearly slashing of the new shoots that stray too far from the grove. A few weeks ago, this grove was a mass of dead and live bamboo too dense to squeeze through.

bamboo forest, bamboo maintenance

Bottom end of grove before. The yellow bamboo you can see is a stand of painted bamboo completely surrounded by the smaller, green running bamboo.

bamboo forest, bamboo maintenance

Bottom end of grove after.

Today, it is a 33 metre long by 10 metre wide grove of bamboo that is a pleasure to walk through. Admittedly, it is a bit tight in places, but easy for someone of a healthy weight. The earth underfoot is gently cushioned by 30 years of bamboo leaf detritus. The gently swaying canopy overhead provides welcome shade for the visitor and safe haven for small birds.

Creating the walk-through forest was not hard work, just time-consuming. Each stem of dead bamboo was removed from inside the grove. Bamboo that was not growing vertically was cut out if it impeded my exit route. Sometimes only one culm at a time could be dragged out. I plugged away at it for an hour or so a day over several weeks.

bamboo forest, bamboo maintenanceThe numerous loads of dead and surplus culms were taken to an allocated spot in the paddock using the trusty old Brumby. The 4 horses that live in the paddock are always really interested in the contents of the Brumby. They often impede any unloading, looking for fresh bamboo leaves to snack on.

Do you have any experience with culling your own bamboo forest?



More on harvesting and storing bamboo

It’s now a month since I cut a selection of bamboo. The process was described in the World Bamboo Day post. The culms were all left upright in their respective groves, propped up off the ground by various means.harvesting bamboo Some had stones under them, others were held off the ground with bricks or blocks. Some sat quite neatly over, or in, the stump of a freshly cut neighbouring stem of bamboo. After a month of transpiration, this week I removed the cut bamboo from one grove.

After a month, the leaves are dry and crisp and brown. harvestingtranspThe top sections of each culm, where the branches start, are changing colour to yellows and browns. Below the branches, the colour on the lower parts looks to be pretty much the same as when they were cut. Unsurprising, given that this is where most of the  moisture is stored. I cut each stem just above the lowest branch and discarded the upper section with all the branches.

This sudden influx of bamboo culms has created an urgent need to get creative with storage solutions. The bamboo needs to be out of the weather, in a covered area, and off the ground. My storage solution?

Hang them from the rafters

bamboo, harvesting bamboo, storing bamboo, transpirationI’m very fond of simple, practical solutions to any challenge or problem. To create an additional area to cure and store the freshly cut, slim and light bamboo culms I used some silver rope and short lengths of bamboo. Like a series of swings or trapezes. This system will be easily expandable.

bamboo, harvesting bamboo, storing bamboo, transpiration

World Bamboo Day, 18 September

wbd_logo_onecolor_alt_thumbWorld Bamboo Day is a day of celebration to increase the awareness of bamboo globally. In the week leading up to World Bamboo Day I’ve been harvesting bamboo inside the very large stands of one of the smaller kinds of bamboo here.



It’s very pleasant inside the bamboo. The light and breeze is gently filtered through the leaves. It is quiet and peaceful.

The best time to harvest, Continue reading