A farm uses a lot of different resources. A big part of a sustainable community is getting resources locally. Another big part of sustainability is the environmental impact of resources.
As an example, the recipe that we use for potting soil calls for peat moss. I’ve read mixed things about sustainable harvesting of peat moss, but I’m sure it’s not local. We did a little research and we found an alternative using ground coconut husks. It’s still not local, but it is a waste product that I’m putting to use and it’s working great. And the husks aren’t nearly as acidic as the peat moss was.
As we have been thinking of sustainable resources, we’ve thought about all of the lumber we go through. We did find a guy who provides us with locally harvested and milled lumber at a very good price, but sometimes I still think it’s too much. I mean, wood is my main building medium, but it’s heavy and often way more than I really need.
So we found a solution…. or we created a new problem. We bought timber bamboo that is strong enough to do many projects, but also light weight, fast growing and renewable. It also happens to not be native to this area and rather invasive. We bought it anyway and have planted one of the plants.
I planted it toward the center of the property and my containment plan is to knock down any new growth that I don’t want and then dig up the rhizomes. I may dig a trench at some point to contain them, but right now I’m looking forward to them spreading. I’ve read the horror stories of bamboo taking over the world, but I asked about it before I bought it and the guy (not to be confused with the wood guy) responded with a question. He asked if I looked after a garden. I told him that we had a little farm. He told me that I had nothing to worry about. See, the people who have problems with bamboo are those that want a maintenance-free plant. I’m going to have problems with bamboo because I don’t have time.
We bought two kinds of bamboo; a black timber bamboo and another timber bamboo that is yellow with green stripes. Both were purchased because they are pretty. We are hoping to get one more timber bamboo that is fast growing, strong and has tasty shoots.
I am really excited to have bamboo and do things with it, but every time I think of it I think ‘invasive non-native’. But I really think that it’s one of the most sustainable crops we can grow. It’s a reasonable building material, it’s edible, it grows well in our climate, it prevents erosion and it grows well without pesticides. I’m excited about it, but with all the bad hype about it, I’m a bit concerned.