According to the dictionary, bamboo is defined as “a giant woody grass mainly grown in the tropics.”
How then, can bamboo grow and be used successfully, and even sold for profit from your homestead?
Let’s find out!
What Is Bamboo Used For?
Bamboo is used throughout the world by many people for various uses, from medicinal to clothes, to even building roads and bridges.
Because bamboo has long stems and is a hard, hollow wood, it can be used instead of wood for making furniture, fence posts, flooring, and even for building houses.
Over one billion people throughout the world live in bamboo houses!
Bamboo Used As Medicine
This a versatile plant as almost every part of it can be used for medicine.
The bamboo shoot has been known to be helpful for kidney disease, respiratory infections, and to even ease labor pains (source)!
While the roots and leaves may potentially aid a fight against cancer (source), water produced by the side branches may potentially be used to treat bone diseases. A poultice made from the shoots may be useful for cleaning wounds and aiding infections – almost like having a doctor in your pocket.
Make sure to check in with your doctor before starting any treatment regime – we are not qualified doctors and this is not meant as medical advice!
Be careful to not eat any shoots raw; they are extremely poisonous to humans!
Why Every Homestead Needs Bamboo
Reading through this article, you can easily see why every homesteader should be growing and using bamboo!
In case we have left anything out, here are a few more reasons:
- Rotting plywood? No problem, simply replace with strips of bamboo.
- Use as stakes in your garden to mark out different areas.
- Feed the animals – cut down a few poles every day and feed to your livestock.
- Bamboo can be made into a strong, durable fabric and used to make clothes.
- Young shoots are used in Asian food preparation.
- Bamboo vinegar is used for cosmetics, insecticides, food processing, and agriculture.
- Create your own utensils and tableware – let the artist in you loose and create unique jewelry!
- Add strips of bamboo to your fire to heat your home.
- Once the fire has burnt out, spread the ash on your garden for a great fertilizer.
Is There a Demand for Bamboo?
The short answer is yes, absolutely!
As it is cheaper to produce and can be harvested frequently, bamboo is in great demand as a substitute for many timber products. Read our article on Bamboo Farming for a Homestead Income to see how fast bamboo can start producing an income for your homestead.
This is great news for the homesteader, as not only does bamboo have 101 uses around the farm, the surplus can be sold to generate that much-needed income.
For other side hustle ideas, read our article 43 Lucrative Side Hustles for Homesteaders.
How to Propagate Bamboo
Bamboo can be propagated in various ways.
Method 1 – From a Cutting (Culm-Segment Cutting Method)
- The culm is a segment on the bamboo shoot, which begins and ends with a node. A node is the swelling at either end of the culm segment.
- To grow a new plant from a cutting, the existing plant should be at least 1 inch (2.5cm) in diameter – this should ensure a good strong new plant!
- Cut a piece of bamboo from an existing shoot, about 10 inches (25cm) in length – should be at a 45-degree angle. Each piece should contain at least 3 to 4 nodes.
- The angled end of the cutting should be dipped into a rooting hormone (can be purchased from any garden store, or make your own)
- Spread 1/8 inch (3.2mm) soft wax around the rim of the exposed end of the stalk cutting – use a soft wax such as soy or beeswax; this will prevent the stalk from rotting – don’t cover the center hole with wax!
- Fill a pot with good quality potting soil (this one by Fox Farm is awesome!) and push the stalk into the soil until 1 node is completely buried. Firmly press the soil down around the stalk to remove any air pockets.
- Gently spray water over the soil – do not overwater!
- Pour water into the cutting stalk every second day – the roots will develop better.
- Keep the plant in a warm area but out of direct sunlight, and check the soil every day. Keep moist but do not allow water to sit on top of the soil – this may cause the roots to rot.
- Transplant the bamboo into the ground after 4 months.
Method 2 – From a Rhizome (My Preferred Way)
- It’s easiest to keep a mother plant in a pot for this method. If you’re propagating a bamboo that is planted in the ground, it’ll be hard to dig up. You can try shoveling right around it to see if you can loosen a portion of the plant enough to remove it, but most likely you’ll need an excavator.
- In a pot, it’s super simple. Remove as much dirt as possible from the roots, being as gentle as possible.
- Use a reciprocating saw (you’ll need a good one!) or a handsaw (you need good muscles for this one) to cut between 2 stems that have some space between them. Cut right through the whole root ball. You’ll feel a fair bit of resistance half-way down, that’s the main woody rhizome you need to get through.
- Don’t try to cut between stems that are too close, you’ll end up with one half without roots. Choose stems with as much space between them as possible.
- Water in super, super well. Check every second day, and keep the soil moist.
- Keep the pot in the shade for 4 -6 weeks, after which time bamboo shoots should appear.
- Plant the bamboo back into the garden when the nighttime temperatures are warm.
How to Harvest Bamboo
The ideal time to harvest bamboo is at the beginning of the dry season.
Choose an adult plant that is between 2 and 7 years old. You may find that older bamboo plants aren’t great for building material or eating; you can read more about that here.
Cut the bamboo shoot just above the first or second node above ground level with a saw – this way, rainwater cannot collect in the node, which could cause the plant to rot during the rainy season.
To keep the adult plant growing well, only take a few shoots from each plant.
So, is growing bamboo on your homestead a profitable venture?
I, for one, would say yes, as not only can you make some extra cash from the sale of the bamboo shoots or from your own home-made furniture and knick-knacks, but it can’t be beaten for all-round use on your farm! Once you get into the growing groove of this versatile plant, the uses are endless.
Will you add some bamboo to your homestead? Let us know in the comments!