The Bamboo Monster

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Published on Epiphany Now on September 2, 2014

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Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

On August 30th, just after arriving home from a 14 day long intensive Permaculture Design Course, I was informed that South Carolina Environmental Control had been too my residence. They were looking for Cannabis. Apparently residents of this county are growing it in their gardens to hide it. I’m not. I’ve got kids, and I’m not stupid enough to grow cannabis where it’s illegal to do so. Anyways, because bamboo is technically a grass, they have decided that I must keep it cut at 16 inches. This is preposterous. 0.5 miles from my residence there is an established grove of Phyllostachys Spectabilis. I have that same bamboo growing in my yard, along with others…all of which came from the ground in this county.
Allow me to officially introduce myself. I, dear reader, am the Bamboo Monster. Now, before you get your panties in a wad and start calling me names, like my all time favorite Bamboo hater term, “Damnboo.” Please realize that I’m a nice monster. However, according to the Department of Homeland Security, I’m in fact the opposite. Just listen to the words of an anonymous chicken shit from the USDA:
“The so-called gardeners who plant this vile stuff in their yards claim that it makes a great privacy screen, while in actuality its an invasive weed that spreads to adjacent properties and wreaks havoc on entire communities. This law was enacted to send a clear message: If you want privacy, build a fence like a normal person!”
“Wreaks havoc on entire communities,” now that is just misguided at best. I mean I may have climbed up through your ventilation ducts in the middle of the night and chocked a bitch or two in my past, but I’m reformed. I promise. I’ve spent the last 40 years or so being damned by American anti-culture. Ever since the American government abandoned its intensive research of me in the late 60’s. I was fit to revolutionize the Earth for humanity. Personally I think I got tossed to the curb by American culture for the same reason that hemp got tossed. I’m just too damn useful to humans. The rotten money changers at the top of the human socioeconomic scheme just can’t figure out how to control me to monopolize on my usefulness. According to the above referenced article, I’m actually illegal to grow in the United States. However, you can buy six foot canes a half inch in diameter at lowes for 3 bucks a pop courtesy of China. Somehow that makes sense, but growing me in your yard for free doesn’t. You might be interested to hear what the illustrious Michael Chertoff, head of the DHS, had to say on the matter of befriending me:
“Privacy in America is a quaint, outdated concept. That’s why we support this legislation. The abolition of bamboo screening in the yards of America will make it much easier for people to see what their neighbors are up to. The passage of this law is one small victory in the larger war against terror.”
Did you know that from 1898 to 1975 the US Department of Agriculture introduced hundreds of my varieties to the states. The plan was to plant me widely as a commercially viable plant. Around 1960, the New Crops Branch of the USDA studied Phyllostachys bambusoides and loblolly pine to compare yields for pulp production. Then on July 1, 1965 the Department of Agriculture just stopped researching me. I was very confused by that because I’m much more virile than pine. Latter I found out that the government turned their back on me because loblolly pine business interests wanted them to. The same thing happened to hemp.
Contrary to what idiots may think, I am native to North America. I’m not an invasive weed, or a pest. For some reason Americans seem to think that I can defy the laws of nature. They think I will “take over” if you plant me. Well, yeah, I will take over if you don’t keep me in check. Let me tell you a little secret. I’ll throw this little nugget out there as a peace offering; I have an Achilles Heel. If you want to control me, all you have to do is dig a trench around me and fill it with sand. Then, twice a year, you take a spade and plunge it into the sand. When you find one of my rhizomes you cut it. It’s called root pruning (or rhizome pruning in my case), and it really is that easy. If you do that I won’t escape containment. Well, I may still find my way out by plunging down beneath your trench, but eventually, if I do that, I’ll send up a shoot and then you’ll know where I escaped. Then you just eat the shoot, or don’t, and pull the rhizome up and put me back into containment.
My growth habits are not a state secret, and I’m easy to contain if you just understand how I grow. Sure, once I get established as a healthy grove I’m just about impossible to get rid of, but then what’s wrong with being strong and powerful? I am stronger than steel and I’m capable of weathering hurricanes. Indigenous cultures know that when mother nature strikes via natural disasters I’m the safest place to seek refuge. I’ve been told that I have somewhere around 1400 uses for mankind. Why, kind reader, do Americans hate the most useful plant to them on the planet?!!!
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