The hardest part of planting boo is thinking years ahead. After all, bamboo is a long term commitment. Once planted and established, it’ll take a bulldozer to get rid of it, so one has to be absolutely certain that it’s planted exactly where one wants it to be planted, and planted in an area where it can be perpetually maintained. It’s bed will have to be tended forever once it’s planted to keep it from spreading out of control. Or planted where it doesn’t matter about spreading. It’s actually not a hard thing to keep boo under control, but it takes a little effort.
However, there are circumstances where the boo takes less or no effort. For instance, if it’s planted in an area that’s normally very dry. The boo will grow where it’s irrigated but won’t spread much at all where it’s not. But… it will require a bit of TLC at least until the grove gets established. On the other hand, if the area is moist and green, the boo will grow quickly and tall. And that’s the conundrum I face. I have a nice area where stuffs grows well and where the boo would flourish. A place where I’d have to expend a bit of effort to keep the boo in it’s own bed. And I have an area where the boo would survive if tended at least until it becomes established, but it may never achieve it’s full potential. It won’t spread much except where I irrigate, but that’s a plus if I want a maintenance-free bed. But then why have giant boo if it never becomes giant?
So I’m going back and forth. I want this boo to really kick into full growing gear and to not need much care to grow. On the other hand, I want the boo to not need much future maintenance. If we leave this property, I want it to pretty much keep to itself so future land-owners won’t have the burden of work (which may motivate potential removal which would be a bummer for this fine boo).
I have a couple of boos I want to plant tho, and I want to keep them in separate beds. One is unidentified but I”ve seen mature culms from this boo and it’s a pretty impressive boo. Green culms, two inches in diameter, over 30′ tall. Not a bad boo. The Henon will get taller, of course – if it’s in an ideal growing environment that is. If it’s not, it may remain fairly stunted. This is boo that’s supposed to get to 65′ tall and form 4.5″ diameter culms. I want that boo to get that big! A stand of that giant boo would look outstanding! Especially as the culms take on a grayish hue – looking like a blue stand of boo. So, stunted is out.
And stunted it is currently. Oh, every year the new shoots are a little bigger. It has actually come a long way from when I got it a couple of years ago. But being planted in a 25-gallon tub does tend to constrain the boo a bit and… stunt it. I expect it should be a bit taller by now and with more culms and perhaps even thicker – tho they’re coming in at about a quarter to 5/8′s inch in diameter now. Perhaps even thicker this year – new shoots are a bit late this year. I hadn’t planted it out yet because the layout of this property is in quite a ruckus. There are so many projects needing a place to call their own, and where to put them all has been a bit of a conundrum for me and still is.
But it’s starting to come together finally. I’ve finally settled on my bee-yard location. A quarter acre square on my property finally dedicated to something and it ain’t gonna change. It’s perfect for the bees – nothing grows well there so the wildflowers and grasses remains short, and it’s flat, out in the open and up high where it doesn’t flood. I plan on getting a blanket of bluebonnets growing there next year even. And the area where water flows across our property I’ve finally dedicated to my vineyard/orchard. The soil is rich and black there and deep enough to retain moisture even in the middle of drought, keeping a green swath of plants in the middle of brown. If the weeds like it in the middle of drought, so will fruit trees and vines. The water doesn’t flow but a few times a year and for just a few hours at a time so there’s no danger of drowning the trees and vines. Free irrigation and rich soil.
But, that’s a problem for the boo – because where it could be growing where it would grow to its maximum potential is in part of this moister and richer part of the property that could as easily grow fruiting trees or grapes or something. I could plant cherry trees where the boo might go, for instance. But the boo will provide some food – bamboo shoots are delish. And my wife sure likes bamboo shoots, so it’s yet another thing I can produce that will make her happy. Happy wife, happy hubby. I must not be too stingy with my richer soil.
Oh what to do, where to plant? I want both of the boo beds to be next to each other, and perhaps room for a third so I can get some Vivax growing. I’ll have trenches dug around each bed so that I can keep the rhizomes trimmed. But if I leave this property for some reason, I don’t want the future owners to come into lotsa extra work and self-education and I want them to want to keep the boo because of how beautiful it is. If it becomes too much work, they may just bulldoze it and years, even decades, of hard work and growing will be for naught.
Besides that, there is an interesting property about boo. Where ever it gets established, it seems to make better. It helps the soil retain moisture, trapping and holding rain-water better and adding organic matter onto and into the soil – it’s a great rehabilitation plant. Perhaps then I should take advantage of it’s capabilities and plant it in the less ideal location where each bed will make the soil where it grows better, while still not spreading as aggressively into the neighboring soil. Is that it, then? Have I made up my mind? Hard to say. I feel like Brett Favre. I may walk around with the shovel and just dig the hole where it seems natural.
I plunged the tub of Henon in the ground a couple of years ago to protect its roots from cold and heat. Earth-mass works great. Pots sitting on top of the ground would tend to get cold – perhaps even freeze if it gets really cold. It got really cold this last winter. And they also tend to cook in the heat of summer. But the boo is happy. New leaves are starting to pop out. New shoots haven’t kicked in yet – I expect that in a couple of weeks or so – perhaps even next week. But, that’s a 25-gallon tub that’s sitting in the ground. 25 gallons of moist topsoil. A good 400lbs or more. But, can’t hurt to try if I’m careful. I’m not going to lift it straight up, of course. But, perhaps I could wiggle it out sideways? So I excavated one side of the tub and found that I could wiggle the tub. Good news! I wiggled it out of the hole and it’s now sitting on the ground, waiting to be dragged to it’s new home. It was a monumental effort, but it worked. Well, I’m committed now – tubs out of the hole and ready.
After much walking across the property and doing the eeny meeny miny mo thing, I finally decided where to put the boo. I chose a richer soil option this time. The poor soil my other boo was in was too hard to keep up with and the boo nearly died and is still set back. Later on, perhaps. So, I settled on a little clearing by the mulberry trees and blackberry brambles. It’s in a clearing next to where the water flows over the 4′ drop, so there’s plenty of moisture. No neighbors to worry about either since it’s centered on our property – this boo can spread at will. Of course, I could have put fruit trees there, but then so could I have in any other location I’d put this boo. If I want my boo, I’m going to have to make sacrifices.
I decided to put the smaller, more pathetic boo near where the wild asparagus is growing – if the asparagus is happy there without any care at all, so will the boo. It’s extremely yellow now – I will feed it later on and provide a bit of iron to help bring some color back and then let nature do the rest. That hole was easy to dig – that boo was just in a 3-gallon pot. Dug hole, plopped in root-ball, backfilled and tamped and walked away. It’s so moist there I didn’t even water it in – the root-ball wasn’t disturbed and everything is pretty we. It’s sprinkling on and off during the day so that’ll suffice. This boo will be a lovely boo when it starts growing and producing 30′ tall culms. Especially if I cull out the thinner culms.
The Henon was a bit more difficult. Dragging the 25-gallon tub of wet soil over there was the first challenge. Heavy. But apparently I was heavy enough to move it. I had no idea how to get the dirt-ball out of the pot tho. But, digging the hole became the next job. I got the kids involved. I knew they were good for something. Between the three of us we got a fairly decent hold dug. Then I tipped the tub on it’s side and started putting my weight on it to compress the soil a bit then rolled it a bit and repeated. I figured if I could get the soil separated from the side of the tub I could get the root-ball to work itself out of the tub. And that’s exactly what it did – as I rolled it, the root-ball started to come out. When it was out far enough I tipped it over further and wrested the tub away from it. And there it was – my root-ball. It looked to be in pretty good shape – not root-bound yet. Healthy rhizomes too. Since I had a pile of gravel over the drain-hole it came out and left a little indentation in the bottom of the root-ball so I built a loose mound of soil in the bottom of the hole to fill it up when the root-ball was placed in there. Or rather, when the root-ball was dropped in there. There was no way I was picking that monster up.
With it still on its side, I wiggled the root-ball some more – happy it was staying together so well – until the bottom was well over the edge of the hole. Then I let gravity do the rest – pulling the bottom down and letting the root-ball plop in the hole right-side up. And the hole was the perfect depth – it fit perfectly. Good kids. Now we just backfilled, tamped, backfilled some more and there it was – the last of my boo planted in the ground finally. Now to neglect it and let it do its thing… In a couple of years I should have many new culms and much taller. Finally, my first boo forest.