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Archive for October, 2010

THE MOSO PICKET.

Moso bamboo does not advance outwards in a haphazard way. It advances some metres into areas it likes, sending up pioneer culms in the first year to form a kind of picket. Here’s the eastern picket of my grove.

The grove as a whole doesn’t move out like this. Rather, it has a “ragged edge” because moso is a gourmet. If it doesn’t like an area of ground it won’t risk a picket, just a few straggly poles. For example, where the grass is short or the ground is bare, it won’t form a confident picket. Even long  grass on a hot slope is not interesting to moso. Lots of lantana and very young wattles is a good mix, though if the lantana is a bit bare from frost, even that is enough for this temperamental gourmet to refuse an advance into new ground.

One frustration of growing moso is the belief by neighbours that it will somehow invade their properties. If only! Another frustration is the insistence by visiting experts that things should be done a certain way, when, quite clearly, the way doesn’t work. People who are far more competent and knowledgable than me will insist on planting moso “out”, ie. in full sun and on rich flats. Instead, it needs to be started on a cool south slope, protected, but not overwhelmed, by lantana and maybe the branch of a big wattle. Even after twenty years, a grove needs good cover and drainage to advance.

This year, on the south-west edge, it moved into a well overgrown patch of red soil. The growth of one new pole in that area was amazing. The yard-a-day which is achieved by some healthy culms in the last days of their growth was achieved as an average by this one culm. It’s already branching after less than two weeks! (No photo. It’s just too thorny and tick-ridden in that patch of ground!)

Anyway, the ‘boo is lush this year, the wallabies know it and have been feasting on any shoots that I neglect to protect. Can’t you just taste the chlorophyll?

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Last year I started this blog to trace the progress of a moso grove over its growing season. There was a lot of uncertainty, due to El Niño and a droughty start to the shooting season.

This year, it’s simpler. The ground is saturated, fat shoots are thrusting up wildly. The grove is yellowing and sheddding leaves for “bamboo autumn”, which is spring for all else, but the effect is much less pronounced this year. The upside is that a heavier canopy will give more protection from the winds which, if exceeding fifty an hour, can damage the tall new poles until they branch. The downside is the lack of heat. It’s a cool october.

Right now, I’m protecting the luscious shoots from wallabies, horses, bandicoots, brush turkeys, possums etc.

And an obligatory harvest from under the power lines means I’ve been flat out processing and freezing shoots for human consumption.

The low light and abundance of moisture has made for a delicious harvest.

Just served with my fave South Oz oil,  black pepper and pink Murray River salt flakes…

I entreat the gods to make me all mouth and tummy.

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