Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bamboo in the Garden

Woah..i haven't updated this blog in a while. Sorry about that. Spring is always really busy for me, and this year is no different.  i've been working every day in the garden, and i'm almost done getting it all planted.

Bamboo has all kinds of uses in the garden.  It works great for tomato stakes, bean poles, trellises etc. Every year i find new uses for it. One of the best things about it, is that it is readily available and free! 

Just down the road from us some folks have a huge patch of bamboo and have given us permission to cut what we need.  Although Bamboo is a renewable resource and is considered eco-friendly, but it can also be very invasive if you do not maintain your patch. So i'm really happy that we have places where we can cut it, and do not have to grow it ourselves. 

Last fall Kenan burned all of my bamboo, so all spring i've been asking him to cut me some more. He originally cut about 50 poles, but i went through them quickly, so he went back and cut another 50 or so. :)  i use a pair of large pruning shears to cut all the extra branches off, and cut the poles to the size that is needed.

One of my favorite things to do with them is to make bean teepees. i came up with this design a few years ago, and have used it every year since. It works wonderful and looks fantastic when it is all covered in vines.  The poles usually last two years, but the twine has to be restrung each year. This year i accidently have the teepees set a little differently, so the bean trellis twine sits farther back. It shouldn't really affect anything, but i'm a bit annoyed that i strung the entire thing before i realized it.

 i plant purple pole beans at the base of the twine starburst pattern, so they grow vertically.  Then i plant Scarlet runners at the base of each pole and i plant cucumbers in between the poles, so that they will climb up the twine that is wrapping the teepees. Since my starburst pattern is in the back this time, it opens up that triangle in the front where i could easy plant something else. 

This photo is from 2012, just to give you an idea of how it looks when the plants cover it.  

After watching my dogs run through the garden a few times, i decided i wanted it fenced. i had the idea to make a simple and decorative bamboo fence around the garden. This isn't intended to keep out all critters, but i am hoping it will at least deter the dogs from running straight through the garden every time they catch the scent of something. So far it has worked well and although i've never wanted this garden fenced, i love the way it looks.

i even made a gate. :) i'm not going to go into a detailed description of how i built the fence, it's pretty basic. i just used bamboo and tied it together with twine. i used a mallet to hammer the posts in.  Easy peasy.

i also made a simple trellis, again just using the bamboo and twine. Last year i made one for cucumbers and it worked very well. i decided to make one this year as a functional decoration for my herb bed. Last fall i had transplanted a butterfly bush behind the bed, but it ended up dying.  i needed something to fill the space and noticed that i had morning glories coming up all over, so i thought i'd give them something to climb.  i made another similar trellis for the front of the house. i'm hoping to transplant my clematis and hide the ugly electrical box that is in the front of the house.

i even found a use for the left over scraps. This isn't finished, but i started to hammer in the left over pieces to make a simple border around the front of my herb bed. i'm planning to just do this on the corners.  i really like the way it is turning out, and i love that there is no waste.

This week i've been working on cutting tomato stakes, and i may make another trellis for cucumbers in one of my other garden beds. Cucumbers don't have to be trellised, but i like to get them off the ground. There are less places for the pests to hid, and the cucumbers don't end up laying in mud.

Bamboo is truly invaluable in the garden. There are so many creative and functional ways to incorporate it into your garden.  i would not recommend growing it yourself, without really doing your research first. However, if you have access to it, bamboo is a wonderful tool to add a touch of beauty to your garden.  i will definitely post more pictures as my garden begins to fill in.


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