[Homestead] Bamboo, most valuable, fastest growing tree-grass in world

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Sep 9 15:47:03 EDT 2004

Trouble is that the damned stuff blooms every fifty years or so and 
dies.  What needs to be done is genetically alter the dying habit. 
Wouldn't hurt to make it more cold-resistant too.  We can grow the 
yellow fishing-pole bamboo in Virginia and do in a few areas, but that 
has minimal useful or economic importance. 
http://www.jmbamboo.com/  (don't know why a nursery specializing in 
cold-hardy bamboos would be located in Alabama, New England would be 
more appropriate.

Some bamboo nursery suppliers:

    * Bamboo Giant

    * Bamboo Plantation
      - providing bamboo plants, supplies, and growing aids.
    * Bamboo Sourcery
      - offering an online catalog that includes many rare species.
    * Burt Associates Bamboo
      - mail-order and retail bamboo nursery, supplying living plants
      for garden or interior use in the United States and Canada.
    * Burtons Bamboo Garden
      - providing bamboo for outdoor or indoor landscaping.
    * jmbamboo
      - specializes in cold hardy bamboos, but also sells a few tropicals.
    * Lewis Bamboo Groves
      - grows cold hardy bamboos to add tropical beauty to any landscape
      and provide privacy screens.
    * Nature Perfect
      - distributors of braided bamboo, lucky bamboo (dracaena), money
      tree (pachira), bonsai, hydroponics, grow lights, and indoor house
    * New England Bamboo Company
      - specializing in rare, unusual, and field dug bamboo and grasses.
    * Nueces River Groves
      - developing bamboo farm and private garden established to
      demonstrate the beauty and usefulness of bamboo for habitat
      formation, erosion control, and production of food and timber.
    * Quindembo Bamboo
      - certified nursery growing non-invasive bamboos in Hawaii.
    * Takehei Bamboo
      - wholesales and retails bamboo.
    * Tradewinds Bamboo Nursery
      - mail order bamboo specialists: plants, books and hardware.

	The Christian Science Monitor - csmonitor.com 

from the September 09, 2004 edition - 

     From a bamboo crisis - innovation

*By Matthew Power* | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

*NEW DELHI* - Seen from the air, the lush bamboo-covered hills of 
Mizoram, in northeastern India, give the impression of an undulating 
green ocean. But the beauty of the landscape obscures a looming 
disaster. In the next several years, in a natural phenomenon known 
locally as /mautham/, millions of acres of bamboo will burst into flower 
and die.

The life cycle of muli bamboo, the predominant species in India's 
northeast, is about 50 years. In 1959, the last time the bamboo forests 
of Mizoram flowered, the abundance of seeds produced by the plants 
created a plague of rats, which in turn devoured rice paddies, leading 
to widespread famine in the region. As many as 15,000 people died, and 
festering resentment over the lack of help from the government in Delhi 
led to a violent separatist rebellion that lasted 25 years.

One suggestion offered by the state government has been the preemptive 
harvesting of bamboo. But logistical problems, such as how to transport 
or use the bamboo, are daunting, and the bamboo forests of the region 
have become something of a ticking time bomb, say observers.

"It is a natural disaster of the same magnitude as a flood or an 
earthquake," says M.P. Ranjan, head of the Center for Bamboo Initiatives 
at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India. Professor 
Ranjan is part of a coalition of botanists, engineers, architects, and 
civil servants who are attempting to turn the impending catastrophe into 
a source of economic opportunity.

The big question: What can you do with millions of acres of a plant 
that's soon going to die? To listen to the bamboo faithful, there are 
few things this "wonder grass" cannot be used for.

Lightweight, durable, and more easily renewable than wood, bamboo can be 
woven, mashed into pulp, and pressed into fiberboard. Bamboo's utility, 
and its ubiquity in some of the world's poorest regions, has led some, 
including India's former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to refer 
to the plant as "green gold."

The numbers speak for themselves: A single clump of bamboo can produce 
as much as 10 miles of usable pole in its life cycle. The 
fastest-growing species can gain a meter in a single day - almost enough 
to see the growth with the naked eye. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide 
live in some sort of bamboo structure, including 75 percent of the 
population of Bangladesh.

There have been more than 1,500 documented uses for bamboo, and by one 
estimate the annual economic value of total bamboo consumption is $10 
billion. By 2015, that figure is expected to double.

Ranjan has dedicated his career to exploring innovative uses of bamboo. 
He recently gathered 100 architects at the NID, who came up with 150 
designs for objects including beds, chairs - and even an abstract bamboo 
rocking horse. Another of Ranjan's concepts involves molding laminated 
bamboo fibers into almost any object.

He suggests that bamboo car bumpers are not too far off. Ranjan takes 
his cues from traditional methods: In a book on indigenous bamboo crafts 
of northeast India, he documented 400 native designs, from fish traps to 
musical instruments.

One of the more futuristic uses of bamboo was recently tested at the 
Earthquake Engineering and Vibration Research Centre in Bangalore. The 
center has a state-of-the-art "triaxial earthquake simulator" - a 
computer- controlled 3-by-3-meter platform mounted on hydraulic shocks.

A prototype house built entirely of bamboo - with bamboo-reinforced 
concrete walls and a waterproof, resin-coated bamboo roof - was 
subjected to five consecutive 30-second pulses equivalent to 7.8 on the 
Richter scale.

"We subjected it to the highest level of earthquake to be found anywhere 
in the world, and it didn't even crack the paint," says Paul Follett of 
the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA), based in 
Britain, which helped conduct the tests with funding from the British 
government. TRADA's mandate on this project is to design safe, 
affordable, sustainable housing for the developing world. Whatever 
developments are made will be "open source" - freely available to 
whoever wishes to use them.

According to Mr. Follett, this bamboo-based housing technology has the 
potential to provide disaster relief around the world. Easily 
prefabricated, the structures can be put up in three weeks, and last 50 
years. At $5 a square foot, costs are roughly half of traditional 
"brick-and-block" construction, and mass production would probably drive 
the costs down further. With the wide variety of goods that can be 
produced from bamboo, Follett sees it as being able to provide not only 
housing, but a sustainable livelihood. He dreams of an entire social 
economy based around the plant.

The Indian government, in an attempt to boost bamboo harvesting before 
flowering begins, has eliminated all export duties until 2007. It has 
also launched an initiative to invest $500 million in bamboo development 
in the next decade, with the aim of creating 8 million jobs.

As ambitious as these initiatives are, the likelihood of staving off the 
disaster is slim. "Will we be prepared to deal with this by 2006?" asks 
Ranjan of the NID. "Unlikely. We must start planning now for the next 
flowering of the bamboo in 50 years. These are problems that will keep 
returning. They are part of the natural order."

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