20 January 2010

Bamboo - It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

When the builders were finishing our house a couple of years ago and were finally filling in the holes which surrounded the walls, they came across a bamboo root. Antonio, the head-honcho suggested that he leave it in place as it would hide the ‘jungle’ further down the terraces. The implication was clear – whilst the bamboo would eventually grow into a straggly clump, it would at least hide the overgrown mess below.

Now where this bamboo root came from I have no idea. There was no bamboo on our land before they started building – it’s all a bit of a mystery. Anyway, it was left to grow and I even decided that Antonio was correct in his assessment and even propagated cuttings along the terraces to try and block out the terraces below and to that end I was successful, spectacularly so!

With the last two days being really sunny (16 degrees !!!), I ventured down into the jungle for the first time this year and having cleared 3 or 4 of the lowest terraces last year, I decided that the bamboo was no longer needed. It was actually hiding the view of all the hard work I’d done last year – it had to go.

What a job. First the chainsaw to cut it as close to the ground as possible, then try and pull out as much of the root as possible (so it doesn’t re-grow) and finally stripping the poles of all their leaves.

What a plant. You can see why it makes such a great (jungle) building material. The poles are absolutely rigid and incredibly strong and they would appear to be able to withstand rain and snow for years without rotting. The leaves and fern type flowers would make an ideal and very comfortable ground material and finally, once dried it would also appear to make excellent firewood, albeit I suspect that it won’t burn too long – we’ll find out next year.

Finally, of course, with its rigid poles it makes an excellent weapon.

As I cut down only one of several 200 pole clumps yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of all those Malaysian and Japanese war films where the nasty little Japs would dig deep pits, fill the base with sharpened bamboo (sticking upwards)and wait for unsuspecting invading forces to fall into the pit and impale themselves on the bamboo. Sharpened in the right way, you could see just how lethal it would be. Yuck!

Anyway, one clump has been cleared – only several more to go. Why on earth did I ever spread it?

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