Growing Bamboo Shoots for Eating

Overview

Bamboo shoots are part of many Asian cuisines. Although canned bamboo shoots are generally available in markets in the U.S., fresh bamboo shoots can be harder to find. The shoots of many bamboo plants are edible, but it is usually advisable to cook them before cooking. If you live in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 5 through 11, you can grow bamboo and eat the shoots during shooting season. Shooting season is usually in the spring or early summer.

Step 1

Dig a trench or hole 36 inches deep for your bamboo. There are two types of bamboo: clumping and running. Running bamboo reproduces using runner, which can cause the planting to become invasive. For this reason, if you are planting running bamboo in a home garden or landscape, you will need a bamboo barrier. If you are growing clumping bamboo, the barrier is not necessary.

Step 2

Place the soil next to the hole and break it up into clumps no larger than a golf ball. A hoe or garden rake can be helpful for some soil types.

Step 3

Line your hole down to 36 inches with a bamboo barrier. Some commercial bamboo barriers are plastic, but you can also line your hole with several inches of concrete as an effective barrier. If you are planting the bamboo in a forest, where invasiveness is not an issue, you will not need a barrier.

Step 4

Refill the hole to within about 10 inches of the top level of soil.

Step 5

Add 2 inches of compost and mix the soil and compost until 50 percent is soil and 50 percent is compost. With the compost, the soil in your hole should be around 8 inches below the surrounding soil levels.

Step 6

Lay your rhizomes eyes up and cover them with 8 inches of soil.

Step 7

Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch and water your bamboo rhizomes with 4 to 6 inches of water initially.

Step 8

Give your rhizomes 1 to 2 inches of water every 2 to 3 days until they sprout.

Step 9

Let your bamboo grow for 3 to 4 years before harvesting shoots. This will allow your grove to be established enough to support harvesting. The exact amount of time it will take for your bamboo to establish will vary, depending on your location and the species you have planted.

Step 10

Harvest the new shoots when they have reached the desired size. The height and thickness will vary, depending on the species. More common species that grow well in North America are ideally harvested at 3 to 6 inches tall.

Step 11

Harvest the shoots by slipping the curved bamboo knife behind the shoot and cutting through the bamboo as close to the base as possible.

Step 12

Peel the outer layers off and cook before eating.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Hoe (optional)
  • Bamboo barrier (optional)
  • Compost
  • Bamboo rhizomes
  • Mulch
  • Bamboo harvest knife (curved bladed)

References

  • American Bamboo Society: A Very Brief Bamboo Glossary
  • Washington State University: What Are Bamboo Shoots?
  • ATTRA: Bamboo - A Multi Purpose Agroforestry Crop
  • American Bamboo Society: Planting and Caring for Bamboo
  • University of Georgia: Growing Bamboo in Georgia
Keywords: Asian cuisine, bamboo growing, bamboo cultivation

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.