Are you interested in growing bamboo? While you might be wary due to tales of the plant’s tendency to take over, bamboo has many practical uses, making it essential for any homestead. Even better, it’s incredibly durable, able to grow in almost anywhere climate around the world and stays green all year.
Take advantage of everything bamboo has to offer with the six homestead uses below.
1. Feed Your Animals
Just like humans, animals need essential vitamins and nutrients to survive. These nutrients — including proteins, carbohydrates, fats and more — are vital to healthy growth and a high-quality product, such as milk or eggs. Research has found the protein of bamboo leaves averaged nearly 13%, with a slight variation across species, making them a great forage option for your homestead livestock. Cut down a handful of bamboo poles each day to provide animals like goats, sheep and cows a constant source of healthy vegetation.
2. Feed Your Family
Bamboo isn’t just for the cows. You can peel and cook fresh bamboo shoots to make a tasty side dish for your next dinner. After cutting down enough bamboo, you will boil the pieces in rice bran, which removes the hydrocyanic acid in fresh bamboo. After, you can peel the pieces, revealing a tender interior like a raw potato or apple. Once peeled, you can keep raw bamboo shoots refrigerated in water for up to a week.
3. Use in Construction
For centuries, people across the world have used bamboo to build houses, construct roads and craft other long-lasting projects. Bamboo is lightweight, meaning you don’t need heavy tools or machinery to transport it. And it's formidable, able to endure wear similar to wood, plastic, metal and other construction materials. Start with a small project, like creating a lattice for your garden or replacing plywood. Then try something more complex, like a tiki hut or a palapa.
4. Craft New Furniture
Bamboo shoots offer convenient-sized poles to use in making furniture like bed frames, chairs and tables. One example is a bamboo coffee table, which you can make with a combination of materials found on your homestead. To start, you'll need one long shoot of bamboo — this is what you'll cut to make the frame. You'll connect the bamboo pieces by drilling holes in the legs and gluing the pieces in place, meaning no nails are required. To finish it off, find a piece of glass large enough to sit on top.
5. Ash Your Garden
It may seem like a waste to grow bamboo only to burn it. But burning bamboo for the ash can help increase the potassium, phosphorus and other minerals in your garden, providing essential elements plants need to thrive. When using bamboo ash, lightly scatter it across your garden along with the rest of your compost. This ash is also useful is keeping away bothersome pests like snails and slugs when you sprinkle it around the base of plants.
6. Warm Your Home
Bamboo grows in abundance. To keep the spread under control, you'll need to use as much new growth as possible. When you run out of projects to make, burn split bamboo in a wood stove to heat your home. Remember to split your bamboo before burning, as whole pieces of bamboo can trap in hot air and pop. Add a couple of pieces to your stove or fireplace at a time to ensure you maintain a controllable burn.
The Best Uses for Bamboo
If you don’t grow bamboo on your homestead, now is the time to start. It’s incredibly hardy and durable, used to build houses and roads. Or you can use it to make something simple, like a table or chair. When you can’t think up any more projects, burn the bamboo in your wood stove to heat the house and collect the ash to spread on your garden.