FERTILIZER

Bamboo needs a regular supply of nutrients and minerals; therefore a regular fertilization program is required in order to replenish the soil. Although fertilizer may be applied at any time of year, it is usually done after the new shoots have emerged and again in late summer. Since the rhizomes are continuously active, it is better to apply small amounts of fertilizer several times during the year rather than a large amount all at once. Fertilizer is applied in drip format, using the drip irrigation system which evenly disburses the fertilizer year round in order to achieve the highest possible yields.

Bamboo requires a high level of nitrogen and potassium which are found in compost, stable manure, green manure, and wood ashes as well as in the drip fed fertilizers. Lime is often used both as a fertilizer and as a neutralizer for acid soil. Hay, compost, green manure and straw can simply be spread on the ground. Stable manure, ash, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, and similar materials should be buried in small pits to avoid being washed away by rain.

Vermicomposting is a good alternative to chemical fertilizers. In Vermiculture, earthworms convert organic wastes into fertile manure. The excreta of earthworms contain five times the nitrogen of ordinary soil, seven times the calcium and magnesium, and eight times the useful bacteria.

Fallen bamboo leaves also mulches the soil surface and provides therefore a natural fertilizer. This layer of litter, along with the leaves still attached to the plant; protect soils from erosion during storms. This natural covering also prevents penetration of chemical fertilizers and water into the root area around the clump.

Unlike most other agricultural crops, bamboo has been developed with little artificial selection. This means that, like most other grasses, bamboo is fairly resistant to diseases, insects, and climatic injuries. Consequently, growing bamboo for producing wood chips requires much less labour and far less pesticides than growing vegetables or fruit.