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Archive for October, 2011

With its six inches of diameter, our five-week-old culm is now the height of many fully grown trees. I’m guessing it’s between twenty-five and thirty feet – but I haven’t checked for some hours.

Most people don’t believe that something can grow like this. Or that in a couple more weeks it will never grow another millimetre in height. Or that it will have a subsequent subterranean and canopy growth as remarkable as its height-spurt.

Everything about moso is extreme, exceptional, radical, ambitious.  Growing moso is like living with a compulsive gambler – but one who usually wins. It’s a ride!

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Remember this guy from less than a fortnight ago?

Well, he’s grown in the last thirteen days.

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The grove is well-established, deserves to be called a forest. So much of its development over twenty years has been through long periods of drought and neglect. Because of its ability to survive and thrive from seedling stage, I’ve long suspected that it really, really belongs here, along the hills between Divide and Pacific. You may need sweet, tallow-wood country – retired dairy country like mine – but that’s available. Contrary to a familiar prejudice, it won’t “get out of control”; but moso is certainly a hungry, ambitious migrant – frustrated in most of the world – that will seize its opportunity in this region.

Evidence!

This isn’t the biggest shoot, but, since I took the photo, it’s bigger still round the base.

Another perspective on another giant, just a few days old. This one is now enormous around the base, and kind of scares me.

The ideal conditions have not produced more shoots, just big ones, which is an ideal development. My guess is that moso here in Dondingalong can achieve its global maximum size.  Hundred foot poles are not out of the question. I have a few patches of red soil where that could come about.

If you look to the right you’ll see a link to a German web site where Europeans who love moso pop in to shriek their delight over a new culm of just a few metres. You might ask: if something can inspire people in a such a pitifully reduced form, how is it possible that, in a place where it can reach a full and stupendous potential, it is little thought about?

There’s no answer to that.

Some of these poles will have trouble with high winds in the vulnerable week when they are at full height but have not branched. The south slope that has been a good, cool nursery to moso is a little too exposed to freak winds now that the culms are towering. Until the grove achieves critical mass, and has poles of equal size to support one another, there will be some breakages.

But what can you say about a species that comes out of the ground in spring, grows to full height in seven weeks, and is ready to be used as a premium timber within five years? A good deal, Australia?

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Note these black, plasticky-looking things atop my computer.

In a future post, I’ll talk about my favourite use for moso bamboo. I’ll be talking about…

…bamboo charcoal!

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