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Lots You Can Do With Bamboo

Bamboo is an ancient woody grass that adds a unique look to a contemporary lifestyle. Peggy Northrop from Organic Style explains on The Saturday Early Show the versatility of bamboo and how to work with it.

Bamboos range from plants the size of field grass to giants of 120 feet in height and a foot in thickness. The most striking characteristic of bamboo is its vertical growth. No other living organism grows so tall, so fast. A Japanese variety, Phyllostachys bambusoides, holds the world record for growing almost four feet in one day.

Bamboo renews itself in three to five years, without the need for replanting. Cultivation requires minimal fertilizers and pesticides. By comparison, hardwood trees can take up to 120 years to mature.

Most bamboo is harvested from controlled forests in South China. The cultivation does not threaten the panda population, as they live at higher elevations and eat a different species of bamboo than the commercial bamboo.

In addition to bamboo's many uses as a building material, in its natural state, the plant generates more oxygen than a similar-size grove of trees. A small stand of bamboo can reduce the temperature in its immediate environment by as much as 10 degrees.


Home Gardens:
Bamboo can be broadly divided into running and non-invasive clumping bamboos. Running bamboos tiller and grow quickly, while non-invasive clumping bamboos form bunches and spread slowly. Clumping varieties are ideally suited to smaller gardens. The best time for planting bamboo is fall, but spring will also do. Bamboo may be planted in containers any time of year.

You can control the spreading of bamboo in yards with the help of a bamboo barrier. It's a high-density plastic wall that you can put in the ground surrounding the area where you want to contain the bamboo.

Bamboo In The Home:
With the best strength-to-weight ratio of any natural product and incredible regenerative powers, bamboo is rapidly becoming the material of choice for many designers and manufacturers. Bamboo has been used for bikes, clothing, scaffolding, flooring and furniture. Retailers like Bamboo 54 have built entire lines around bamboo's versatility. Gucci has incorporated bamboo into their accessories as the handle on a handbag or the stiletto on a shoe.

Bamboo's intrinsic strength and stability makes it ideal for flooring. Hundreds of millions of people living in houses made from bamboo. In Bangladesh, 73% of the population lives in bamboo housing.

Edible Bamboo:
Young bamboo shoots are highly prized in Japanese cuisine for their delicate flavor and texture.

Bamboo For Fuel:
Although wood charcoal makes a good fuel, bamboo charcoal is almost three times as porous as wood. Bamboo charcoal contains a large amount of minerals, such as iron, manganese and potassium, making it a much more effective fuel and odor remover. Although it is not readily available in the United States, you can find it through some overseas Web sites. In fact, bamboo burns so well that Thomas Edison discovered that the carbonized bamboo made an ideal filament for his first electric light bulb in 1882.