Harvesting Bamboo

I’m going to encourage you to drive around looking and knock on doors or don a blaze-orange vest and harvest from roadsides instead of planting bamboo. Try to wash off boots, vehicles, and tools after any harvest of wild species, especially in damp areas. There are all kinds of things from phrag grass to kudzu that will hitch rides, plus various diseases and pests we can transfer between locations.

The great *they* like to tell us that you’re supposed to harvest bamboo from as close to the ground plane as you can.

I don’t do that.

I prefer not to create future punji sticks and heel-catchers we can’t see from all the future leaf fall. Nor do I cut at knee-height.

I tend to cut up in the rib to head level. It eats up the earth space or footprint and takes longer to die back and be replaced, true. However, pretty much nobody is going to get speared when they kneel down, nobody’s going to snag a boot or toe, and nobody’s dog is going to gash its face.

What size bamboo you want is dependent on your task, but as you harvest, don’t just abandon the leafy bits.

Remember, bamboo is really just a big, thick grass.  In most cases, the leaves make fine mulch and compost. You can also use trimmings as a fiber element for goats – especially goats that are getting rich tree and shrub fodders. Chickens and rabbits can have it as well.

There is a handy knife-type saw the Japanese and Koreans each have specifically for bamboo. I use mine for all kinds of harvests. However, for bamboo, I’m more likely to go with either style of long-handled pruners, a laminate or hardwood blade on a hacksaw, or the same on a sawsall – it depends on what’s waiting closest in my truck and sometimes how much I’m planning to harvest.

The hacksaw or pruners are handy for dropping, then immediately bucking off the tops and the leafy “branches”, and sorting as I go. I tend to always have good one-handed pruners in my pocket or bag(s), though, so there are times I alternate cutting and stripping instead.

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