Bamboo is a plant that for thousands of years has played a very important role, especially in Asian culture. There they give it a large number of uses such as food, textiles, construction, medicine, writing, paper, etc. Depending on the variety, you can find a bamboo of only one meter long and others of up to 25 m with a stem. 30 cm in diameter. In this post we will try to analyze everything related to bamboo harvesting. We focus especially on the collection of edible canes and shoots. At the end we will give some harvest tips for construction uses.
As we said, there are many varieties of bamboo, and you can find them almost anywhere in the world. Among the most common varieties we can mention; Golden Grove, Black Bamboo, Chinese Mountain, Giant Japanese Wood, Hedge Bamboo, Red Margin, among many others. In this post we will do a fairly general analysis, we will not study the harvest of each variety of bamboo individually. Since the publication would be endless.
- Bamboo can be considered natural air conditioning. This is because on summer days it is able to cool the surrounding air up to 8 ° C.
- Of all the plants that grow on the earth’s surface, bamboo is the one that grows the fastest, being able to grow in ideal conditions up to 1 m a day. There are only some giant algae that grow faster than bamboo.
1. Bamboo harvesting tools
To harvest bamboo, certain tools are necessary, which depending on the variety and size of the plant can vary. In this section I will mention three tools that will be useful to you in any case.
1.1 Pruning shears
When you have thin bamboo stalks, manual pruning shears are ideal for the job. They will be very useful when you want to harvest sprouts to eat. But if the diameter exceeds 3 cm it can be difficult to cut with manual scissors.
When the diameter is more than 3 cm and up to 5 or 6 cm, a lopping shear will be much better for you. These, having a long handle, allow you to work with both arms, thus cutting stems much thicker than with the manual ones.
A saw is always useful, especially when the work cannot be done with scissors. On many occasions when you have many plants together, it is difficult to go around the stem with scissors, so opting for a saw is much more practical.
The diameter is also a determining factor, as we already said, a diameter greater than 6 cm is very difficult to cut with pruning shears. While the diameter does not matter when using a saw. There are saws that can be used with two operators to cut the larger diameter bamboo.
Consider using a saw with small teeth. Otherwise, if you are looking for a high speed saw, the cut will be very complicated.
In case you are a somewhat lazy gardener, or the diameter of the bamboo you need to cut is too large, you may need a power saw. This will greatly speed up the task, being able to cut dozens of bamboo stalks in the time that you would cut just one with a hand saw.
1.3 Shovel to cut roots
Although this is not a strictly necessary tool for harvesting bamboo, it is good to have it on hand. Is that the bamboo harvest is a good time to take advantage of and control the spread of this plant in your garden. You know, if you don’t do a check, the bamboo can end up becoming a real pest.
That said, you can use a shovel to cut through those root masses that usually spawn at the base of the bamboo. This way you will not allow new shoots of these races to emerge and the plantation to spread.
2. Harvesting bamboo canes
In general, in the West we are not used to eating bamboo shoots a lot, it is something more from the East. We give more use to bamboo canes, let’s see how and when to harvest these canes
2.1 When to harvest
When harvesting a bamboo cane, what we must prioritize is finding the strongest stems. The new shoots will not serve us since they will not have enough resistance.
Taking this into account, it is advisable to wait until the plant has stems of about three or five years. If the use that you will give it does not matter the resistance (for example decorative) you can choose to cut younger canes.
The best time to harvest bamboo is during the winter months. Again, depending on how you are going to use it, it can be good to let the reeds dry for a couple of weeks.
Another point to consider before harvesting bamboo canes is the moon face. To obtain a higher quality harvest, it is advisable to do so when the moon is in the waning phase. The canes that you cut will be of higher quality when the plant has passed two or three days of the full moon. This is because during these days the sage goes more to the lower part of the bamboo. So when you cut it, it will have less water and the harvested reeds will have a higher degree of rigidity.
2.2 How to harvest
The collection of bamboo canes is not too complicated, the most important thing is to have the necessary tools for the task and follow the following steps:
Step 1 – Look for ripe bamboo canes
The first thing we must do is know how to find the rod that adapts to the needs we have. If you are looking for a strong cane, you must cut those that are not less than three years old, this so that it has sufficient maturity. But do you wonder how I recognize which canes are ripe? It is not easy to remember how old each reed is. To recognize a mature bamboo stem, follow the following ocn
- When the bamboo stems are mature, their color is lime green, and they usually have some red pigmentation spots.
- Another detail to know that the stem is not too young is to never cut the calluses closest to the edge. The most mature stems are always those that are more in the center of the set.
- Counting the number of branches that the stem has is also a detail that usually works. Young stems never have more than one or two twigs.
- Lastly, you can help yourself by analyzing the sound the stem makes when hitting it. If the sound of fingers hitting the stem is a hollow and even metallic sound, the stem is quite mature. Whereas if the sound is deeper the stem is quite young.
Step 2 – Cut the canes
Once you have recognized a very mature cane, it is time to cut it. Depending on its thickness and knowing what we already analyzed in section 1. you must select the tool that best suits the task. Usually it will be a pruning shears or a saw.
Note that you should always cut the reed above the first or second node in the ground. This will allow a better recovery of the plant after cutting. Remember also to always make a cut with a certain degree of inclination to allow better water drainage.
Step 3 – Trim branches
Once the cane is cut, take a pair of scissors to remove all the twigs it has. When doing this, always try to cut well close to the stem.
After all this, it is good that you leave the harvested canes in a place well protected from humidity for a good drying of them.
3. Harvesting bamboo shoots to eat
Although in our western culture the use of bamboo shoots is not very widespread, every day it is being used more. Let’s see how and in what way you should harvest them correctly.
3.1 When to havest
To determine when it is best to harvest bamboo shoots to eat, there are two fairly marked positions. You can verify this by doing an internet search, you will see that some recommend harvesting during the spring and others at the end of the rainy season. I’m not really sure which of the positions is more correct, so I’ll lay out the arguments for both.
Those who suggest that they should be harvested during the spring are based on the fact that new shoots begin to emerge from the beginning of this season and end until the middle of the growing season. Taking into account that you should not let the shoots grow too long (about 30 cm long) since they begin to take a somewhat bitter taste, this makes the harvest better to carry out during the spring.
The second position indicates that the dormant bamboo season coincides with the dry season. These months are when the plant is storing nutrients so that when the rainy season arrives it begins to sprout. This means that once the dry season is over, the bamboo plants are at the maximum level of starch content. Therefore, if you cut the shoots at this time, it is very possible that it will be attacked by various pests such as sweepers and certain fungi.
Now, during the rainy season, the plant will release the concentration of starch but its stems will have a high moisture content. So if you decide to harvest during the rainy season, the stalks will most likely shake and break during and after the harvest is over.
If you have read the last two paragraphs carefully, you have surely come to the conclusion that the best time to harvest bamboo shoots is at the end of the rainy season. In this way there is not a high concentration of starch and the degree of humidity has also decreased.
3.2 How to harvest
Carrying out this harvest is not complicated nor does it require many tools. Follow the following four steps:
Step 1: Select the bamboo shoots
The first step and from my point of view the most important is knowing how to select the edible shoots correctly. You need to cut those shoots with a length between 4 cm and 30 cm. If you let it grow any longer, the sprout will start to taste bitter.
Before cutting the sprout, make sure it is healthy. If you notice that the texture of the sprout is somewhat soft, this may mean that it has some fungus. If so, cut off the sprout so the fungus doesn’t spread, but don’t consume it.
Step 2: Cut the shoots
There are not many secrets when it comes to cutting bamboo shoots to eat. I can only recommend that you use pruning shears and make the cut at ground level.
Always remember to sanitize your cutting tools before starting to harvest. This will prevent you from contaminating the sprouts and infecting the plant with any disease.
Even if you don’t use the shoots in your kitchen, it’s good to cut them too. In this way you will be quickly and easily avoiding the spread of bamboo in your garden.
Step 3: Peel the shoots
Once the shoots are cut, they need to be peeled. You will not be able to consume them without first peeling them. To do this, simply take a well-sharpened and sanitized knife and make a small cut in the skin. Then you can peel them manually easily.
Step 4: Store the shoots
The peeled shoots do not last more than 2 days if some procedure for their conservation is not carried out. In general, the easiest and most practical thing is to boil them and store them in salted water.
You should simmer the sprouts for about 10 minutes. It is advisable to add a little salt to the water where the sprouts are to be boiled (one teaspoon for every 250 ml).
Once it boils, you can remove the sprouts and store them in salted water. The salt concentration should be half a teaspoon for every 250 ml. Put the container in the refrigerator to be able to preserve them better for longer.
4. Other interesting topics
So far, we have already done a fairly comprehensive overview of how and when to harvest bamboo. In any case, I do not want to end this post without first analyzing two points that are widely consulted when talking about this topic. And these are the following:
- Harvesting bamboo for construction.
- Bamboo harvesting machine.
Let’s see it in the following sections.
4.1 Harvesting bamboo for construction
The collection of bamboo poles for construction has no more secrets than those we saw in section 2. However, we will add some extra tips that will be useful to you.
- To ensure that you can have harvests in later years, the number of mature stems harvested should not exceed the healthy shoots that sprouted and became young stems the previous year.
- Use a stem maturity classification system to facilitate the harvesting task. You can find more information at the end of this post (article on BAMBOO HARVESTING AND POST HARVEST).
- You must cut the stems above the first or second node counting from the ground.
- After harvest, do not drag the stems on the ground. This will cause damage to the epidermal layer of the sugarcane, which will decrease its value.
4.2 Bamboo harvesting machine
I’m a gardener, so you can imagine that I don’t know much about specialized machinery for bamboo harvesting. For this reason, I decided to look for a video (from RECOFTC channel) on this very well explained topic. I hope you find it interesting. 😉