Monday, March 14, 2016

Bamboo Walls for the Garden

Me, my garden wall, and a bamboo log.
Just before leaving for Nepal we finished a final chunk of the outside wall on my community garden space. I don't wish to till my soil, so I'm using a somewhat homemade method of lasagna gardening. I layer on garden waste - harvested cabbage leftovers, plants at the end of the season, weeds, and trimmings from the surrounding paths - with leaves, composted cow manure, more leaves, and top it all off with rice straw. The occasional round of coffee grounds also makes it in, but the number is negligible.

My goal is to make use of what I have on hand or can find not so far away for free. Bamboo is one thing that appears in abundance. Bamboo would have been found on traditional Japanese homesteads as a source of food as well as a handy building material. It also would have been turned into charcoal, which in turn would have been turned into a kind of insecticide, a home deodorizer, and a soil additive.

These days, though, bamboo runs a bit wild where it still exists. Many of these traditional stands have been cleared to make way for new homes, bigger farm fields, or simply let go. They quickly become impassable masses that have a charm and beauty of their own, but they can also crowd out other species.

Me and a split log. Isn't it beautiful?!?
We usually split it at least once more to make the pieces for the wall.
We salvage ours from the nearby mountains where crews pass through at least once a season to cut and control marauding bands of bamboo that threaten to overtake the natural forrest. We then split the logs and fashion them into a natural wall for my garden beds. These are held in place by smaller stakes of bamboo that we tie together to hold things securely.

The system isn't perfect. There are gaps between the pieces sometimes, and it doesn't always ride evenly over the surface of the soil. However, all of this pales in comparison to the fact that the fence is a natural material that critters can skitter along happily or even make their nest upon if they wish. (I'm not a fan of plastic these last few years despite its ready availability and cheap price. I think that whole concept a load of non-compostable manure.) It also looks quite nice and is even cheaper than the plastic.

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