Monday, August 31, 2009

Beware of Bamboo--An Update

"Beware of Bamboo"--wouldn't that make a good sign to post at the front gate? Most posts here lately have detailed the native abundance in my backyard. But just across the fence is a more typical Princeton scene. Bamboo, English ivy and Wineberry--all exotic invaders--thrive along a neglected fenceline, advancing imperiously into my yard when my back is turned.

Bamboo is thought to be nearly impossible to weed out, but no beast can remain beastly forever without a source of energy.

As described in a post in June, 2008, the hard part of the counter attack was done a couple years back, when my neighbor permitted me to cut the whole, dense, 20 foot high bamboo clone to the ground--on both sides of the fence. It then sent up a new batch of long stems, which I cut just as they were starting to leaf out. The whole idea was to prevent the Thing from collecting any new solar energy, forcing it to spend its reserves on new shoots that would get cut before they could send any energy down to the roots. Time, and the imperatives of metabolism, were on my side in this "drain the energy bank" approach to superweed combat.

Last year, I again cut the new shoots down to the ground just as the stems were starting to send out leaves.

This year, it sent up only a few strange stems, each crowded with unusually dense leaves. Grasping one stem, I felt like I was shaking hands with a woolly green bear out of Monsters Inc. And like in the movie, the monster has been acting mighty gentle of late.

Fifteen minutes of lopping and it was time to declare victory, though I don't dare turn my back for long.


  1. Nice blog. I have plenty of bamboo on my 3.5 acres in Princeton but there's room enough for them amongst the oaks, white ash, maples, pines, firs, cedar, cypress, and spruces. Of course, my husband stymies their advance across one corner of our lawn with his machete all summer but a rogue stand flourishes in the woods in the back. They're close to thirty feet tall and two inches across now. The foxes, turkey vultures, crows, ravens and deer don't seem to mind.

    Anyway, keep up your lovely observations. I read them all the time, although this is the first time I've commented.

  2. Black Timber Bamboo grows pretty well in Zone 6 and can be harvested for many different uses, furniture making included!

    the shoots are delicious in a stir fry too!