If you’re convinced of the potentials of bamboo growing, the following procedure should help you get started. Let us assume that you have a one-hectare lot. It can be less but the important thing is to be close to sources of water, the soil should be sandy loam and well drained. Stake the area at a spacing of 8 meters by 8 meters. Remove weeds and other vegetation that may compete with the bamboo.
The next step is to prepare planting stocks for direct out-planting. They can be obtained from the butt to the middle portion of one-to-two-year old culms. These culms should have undisturbed, fresh buds. Branches can also be used as planting stocks, although they should be treated with Hormex to induce rooting.
If you decide to use branches as planting stock, these must first be planted in 6 inches by 8 inches plastic bags containing topsoil. The branches should stay in a plant nursery for about 6 to 10 months with only 50 percent sunlight. Watering should be done daily.
Should you use two node cuttings, collect them one day before outplanting, preferably in the afternoon. Use a hand-saw for cutting and keep them under cover with moist cloth. About 156 planting stocks will be enough for a one hectare area.
Outplanting comes next. Outplanting simply means you actually plant the bamboo stocks on the field. The best to do this is on the onset of the rainy season. Dig holes 50 by 80 centimeters wide and 20 to 30 centimeters deep. These holes should be eight meters apart.
Dig and loosen the soil thoroughly and remove the grasses. Plant cutting in a horizontal position, with the fresh buds sideways. Cover the cuttings with a layer of well pulverized soil, about 1-10 cm. And keep the stakes as markers in place.
Planting is only half the work. The next five years will see you busy in protecting your young bamboo plants. Weeds should be removed and commercial fertilizer applied at the rate of 30 grams per plant. Fertilizer should be applied one month after outplanting; the quantity should be increased as the bamboo grows into clumps.
Fire and animals are also natural hazards. Dried weeds, shrubs, plants, or any materials that easily catch fire should be removed. If possible the planting area should be fenced off from the stray animals.
Due to its flexibility, bamboo can be grown into desired shape. By fitting wooden molds on the young shoots, artificially deformed bamboos which command a higher price in the market can be grown.
Deformed bamboo are more in demand for making decorative products and building houses. In Japan alone, quadrangular bamboo culms cost four times price of normal, cylindrical culms.
To start, select healthy and vigorous shoots and new growths at the start of the rainy season. Choose those with fresh scales or hair, and well-attached young green culm sheaths; those which came out from last year’s culm and are locatedsome distance from the mother culm; or those with seemingly white powder on the sheaths.
Choose shoots of about 30 cm high. These must be growing outside the clump for easier molding.
Then, determine the frame size. Remember that too tight frames cause shoot’s death abnormal distortion, retarded growth, and unsightly depressions on the culms.
First, measure the shoot circumference 10 cm from the ground. This will dictate the size of rectangular, square and triangular frames to be built. Measure, too, the shoot’s height, from base to tip. Estimate the size of the nature culm that will develop from the shoot by measuring the surrounding culms.
To construct the molds, use lumber with standard sizes. Select those which fit the desired mold size.
Treat both sides of lumber with preservatives to fight off termites and fungi.
For a 3 inches square mold, follow these steps: Get 4 pieces of 4 inches wide lumber. Nail them to form two “Ls”. Distance between nails should be about 18 inches. There should be no protruding edges since the rubber strips ‘ pressure on the frame will be reduced.
Nail the two “Ls” forming a gutter, 3 inches by 3 inches size. If necessary, use additional nails to prevent warping and twisting.
To strengthen frame, bind it with rubber strips (balatay in local terms) from the exterior of used vehicle tires. Make six loops with each rubber strip then tie and nail the ends properly.
The additional manila ropes between the rubber strips for bier frames.
Before installing the mold on the young shoots, clear the surrounding area of weeds and other growths. For kauayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana) prune spines from branches of nearby culms. Removes also the debris around the shoots.
Fit the frame on the young shoot carefully. Place it at about half the shoot’s height. Support the frame with lumber. To prevent the frame from being toppled by wind, tie the frame with guy wires at supporting angels to nearby trees or ground.
After two months , or when the culms have out grown the frames, dismantle them with a drawbar and hammer. Pry open the frame on the side having fewer nails.
Possible species that can be deformed:
Bayog- Dendrocalamus merillianus (elm.)Elm.
Kauayan tinik- Bambusa blumeana Schultes
Kauayan killing- Bambusa vulgaris Schrad. Ex. Wendl.
Giant bamboo- Gigantochloa aspera Kurz
Bolo- gigantochloa levis (Blanco0 Merr.
Yellow Bamboo- Bamusa vulgaris Schrad. Var. striata (Lodd)
Source: Agribusiness opportunities, MARID Agribusiness