The bamboo plant has many uses. It can be used to carry water, as a building material, and to control erosion on riverbanks. Yet not many farmers grow it. It just grows wild. Most types of bamboo grow shoots from underground stems called rhizomes. These shoots grow into tall, above-ground trunks.
If you are planning to grow bamboo, there are many things to consider. The best time to plant bamboo is during the rainy season. Select mature cuttings that are not more than three years old. Each cutting should have three large nodes. You will get the best results if you take cuttings from the middle part of the trunk.
Cut unwanted sprouts and branches with a sharp knife, then cut the ends on a slant. If you have to store the cuttings before planting, soak them along the banks of rivers or streams. Cover them with fresh banana or gliricidia leaves to prevent them from wilting.
Your choice of planting site is very important. Choose a damp, sandy area preferably near a water source, such as a riverbank. Farmers usually plant bamboo on mountain slopes or areas where semi-wild root crops grow, such as bulb vines or yams. This is because bamboo has a very good chance of surviving in these fertile, moist areas.
There are different planting methods for different types of planting stock. If you are planting fresh cuttings, plant two cuttings that have sprouts in a slanted position in a hole. Make the hole between six and twenty centimetres deep – deep enough so that the soil is moist. Put dried plant roots and leaves around the base of the planted cutting to protect it and the soil. One sprout will grow per node. Apply a seal of moist clay to the top cut edge of the bamboo without covering the hole. The clay will act as a disinfectant. Remember, if the soil is sticky, add sand to it.
You can also plant cuttings in cans, pots or plastic bags before transferring them to the field. Make sure you use very moist soil or mud when planting in a can, pot, or bag. After you have planted the cutting, put more mud or banana stalks as a mulch around the base. Water the potted cuttings regularly.
When your potted cuttings grow roots, you can transfer them to the place where you want them to grow permanently. The best season to transfer cuttings is the rainy season. Cuttings should be 50 to 100 centimetres long and six months to one year old. Plant cuttings in moist soil to prevent the roots from drying out.
Start by digging a hole that is a good size for the cutting. Cover the rooted cuttings with banana leaves or
a plastic bag when transferring to the planting site. Remove the banana leaves or plastic bag and separate the roots. Place the cutting in the hole, refill the hole with soil and level it at the base. Press grass or leaves around the base to hold moisture in the soil. Space your cuttings seven to ten metres apart.
- By Mr. Dayrit, Philippines