What's in the middle of a WILD bamboo grove?

Thanks to the swirling polar vortex, last week, which was, by the way, the middle of February, I did a bit of bamboo harvesting at our southern Ohio Grove.  A slight breeze under relatively clear skies, temps near 70 with the sounds of chirping birds wafting in and out. 

Our southern grove is located in Meigs County Ohio, quite off the beaten path. To be more precise, far enough off that pavement has given way to gravel which has resigned itself to being unable to overtake the dirt.

Perfect for a wild bamboo grove!

 Home bamboo grove in Hocking Hills Ohio

Home bamboo grove in Hocking Hills Ohio

See, we’ve been plucking our home grove seasonally since it’s inception 5 years ago, and one could if one so chose, set off in any direction bobbing and weaving, ducking and diving, and make it through to the other side not much worse for the wear. 

The southern grove however is a whole other bird!  It, has been growing as it, itself, has seen fit for the past 11 years.  One could if one so chose, set off in any direction and within moments, not be doing anything other humans would recognize as moving forward.  Then rapidly realize the wear will only get worse and choose to spend the next few hours in a different way.

This grove is penned in, having one edge up against a dirt road with a U-shaped dirt driveway corralling the bamboo in.  So bamboo being what it is has been bouncing around underground every fall, then sending up hundreds if not thousands of new shoots every spring further clogging up the street level real estate.

Bamboo is similar to water in that it seeks the path of least resistance and has learned that the compact earth underneath where several ton vehicles travel is quite difficult to get through so it chooses to spend it’s energy differently and the rhizomes that spread bamboo underground will simply turn aside and ricochet back into the fold.  As wild bamboo is to humans, human travel is to bamboo.

Want to see what I’m talking about?

Amazingly the video below was shot in Ohio, in February, in the midst of this grove.  The sights and sounds, I think, are quite relaxing and grounding.  At one point a vehicle headed down the dirt road is heard.  Those that hold out are rewarded with an amazing avian aerial battle taking place just overhead!

Puts you inside a wild bamboo grove in southern Ohio- 

I have been working open paths into the grove harvesting as I went.  Here is a walk-through of the trail I’ve cleared, really shows the contrast.  The bamboo on the ground is just a single load, this trail cut in total was more like a half dozen loads.

A trail I'm working on through a wild Ohio bamboo grove. 

Here I am releasing one of the culms from the grove.  I prefer if possible to work by hand so I can get an even cut below any “foot” that might be there.  This one has a nice foot, the splay of roots searching for purchase in the soil, emanating from the node.  The bottom foot or so of the canes tend to be denser and more solid than the rest with nodes closer together.  They feel good in the hands and are desirable for all these qualities, plus I find they make intriguing tops of walking sticks.

Harvesting by hand means being on your belly in the mud, here, see for yourself! 

So in case it comes up at your next trivia night, yes some species of bamboo grow great in Ohio!  Bamboo grows just about everywhere in fact, and though much of the rest of the world has known this for some time, America is beginning to realize it is one of the greatest sustainable resources on the planet, being used in more ways than seem humanly possible.