We are now more than four weeks into global quarantine. And we are bending the curve like Uri Keller bends a spoon. With great fanfare, that is. In this unimaginable scenario, we salute the heroes and mourn the victims. But in small town America, most of us are just bored out of our minds, scouring our homes and gardens for any form of amusement.
If you look hard enough, you can start to find a few silver linings. Springtime, for example, is an excellent time to stay home and tend your garden, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Our website, in fact, is getting record traffic right now, with bamboo enthusiasts around the world looking for gardening tips and other fun distractions.
So join me as we continue that search for silver linings and come up with a few fun things to do in the bamboo garden in these strange times of isolation and pandemic.
What to do with your bamboo in springtime quarantine
Spring is always wonderful time in the garden. Things are coming to life, and there’s plenty of ways to have fun participating in that process of renewal, or simply by observing the many miracles of Mother Nature.
1. New growth is sure sign of spring. That means you’ve probably been noticing all kinds of fresh young culms shooting up around the base of your established bamboo groves. I can think of a couple ways to have fun with that.
Maybe the blizzard of epidemiological statistics has sparked your interest in numbers and measurements. If so, you could grab your yardstick and start marking the daily growth of your new bamboo shoots. Some varieties of bamboo can grow a meter a day in ideal conditions. Yours probably won’t grow that fast, but why not take some daily measurements and find out.
2. I’ve noticed a lot of people are making more use of their kitchen equipment than ever before. Who ever thought we would see shortages of beans and rice and toilet paper, even as the oatmeal cookies are coming out of the ovens faster than we can eat them? From banana muffins to German sourdough, everyone is suddenly getting in touch with their inner baker.
Springtime in quarantine can also be the perfect time to conduct some culinary experiments with your fresh bamboo. Bamboo shoots, when young and tender, are not only edible, but also delicious and nutritious. Check out that article for more details, but be aware you’ll probably need to boil or ferment your bamboo shoots to make them more palatable. Moso bamboo has some of the tastiest shoots for consumption, but most bamboo varieties are good to eat. Oldhamii is another yummy one.
3. As the young shoots come out of the ground, your bamboo canes might also be sprouting lateral growth higher up above the ground. So this could be a good a time to monitor that growth, and prune it back if necessary.
It’s a particularly good idea to cut back the lower branches of your bamboo if you’re growing something ornamental like Buddha’s belly or a striped variety like Alphonse Karr. By pruning back all the lateral branches on the bottom 3 or 4 feet of these attractive specimens, you can really show off the handsome and unusual shapes and colors of your prized bamboo.
4. Speaking of pruning, every bamboo grower must understand the importance of managing their roots. Especially if you are growing running varieties of bamboo, you need to check on the roots at least a couple times a year.
If your bamboo is in the ground, you’ll want to dig around the perimeter of the established plant to see how vigorously those roots are spreading. If you want to keep your bamboo more or less contained, you’ll have to dig in there and cut out the renegade roots.
This might not be the most fun part of maintaining your bamboo garden, but it is essential. And better to catch them early than to find out the hard way when new shoots start to tear up your neighbor’s award-winning flower beds. Check our article on bamboo containment to learn more.
You could also use this time to divide the root balls of your potted bamboo, before they burst out of their containers. It’s really better to do this in the dormant season, when you don’t have a lot of tender new shoots. But in some cases, you might not notice that the bamboo is root-bound until it’s already too late. And this is the time of year when it could become an obvious problem.
5. If you’re not afraid of leaving the house, you’ll find that most nurseries and hardware stores are considered essential businesses. That means they’re still open, so you can head over there with your gloves and face mask and seek out some interesting new varieties for your garden. This is planting season after all. (Many bamboo nurseries also sell by mail order, by the way.)
And if you’re not sure which species of bamboo to add to your menagerie, take a look a some of these articles. There are hundreds and hundreds of varieties to choose from, but we can help you narrow down the options.
- 10 Best bamboos for your garden
- 11 Cold hardy bamboo varieties
- Exotic bamboo species for your garden
- Best bamboos to grow for poles
I hope these bamboo gardening activities inspire you to get outside and do something safe and healthy in these strange times. If none of these pique your interest, here’s one more bonus suggestion.
Consider going outside and taking a seat in the shade of your bamboo. Close your eyes, listen to the rustling of the bamboo leaves, and spend a few minutes focussing on your breath. Mindfulness meditation has a whole host of health benefits, including stress reduction and sleep improvement. But best of all, it can nourish your soul. And I can hardly think of a better way to spend a month of quarantine and pandemic than by healing the souls of the planet.
PHOTO CREDIT: Fun times in the bamboo garden (Unsplash)