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Bamboo: The Tree Of Life

May 6, 2014       Green-Minded
The Tree of Life for Surviving Off the Grid


The bamboo isn't really a tree but is identified as a tree grass AND is known as the “plant of a thousand uses.”  Unseemingly strong for its weight, and rigid enough and holding its shape to support a structure out of any geometrical arrangement, but bendable and flexible to accommodate any purpose.  Bamboo can be easily cut, processed and is light enough to be transported in bulk if you have the means to haul it over long distances.

Say you live in an area where you can plant some.  Either a small plot or a wide backyard to spare, and you want to make your space useful.  Whether you are in an urban setting, or in a homestead in the middle of nowhere, keeping a bamboo grove in and around your home will be a lifesaver.  There are 110 species of bamboo known to be edible. Certain bamboo species contain high levels of cyanogenic glycosides or poisons and toxins, so check which kind of  bamboo you are planting to make sure using them won't end up harming you.  Boiling young bamboo shoots can neutralize the toxin and makes for a delicious salad with coconut milk and cheap seafood--something you can have all year round if you have coconut trees as well.

In our part of the world, the bamboo is used to treat various ailments like fever, bacterial infection and respiratory problems, especially in indigenous communities (rural China, jungle Aetas) where survival knowledge is handed down among generations.  Wonder why Chinese places serve dimsum in hot, steaming bamboo containers that don't even look brand-new yet their containers never appear to go bad even with repeated use?  Bamboo containers are easy to clean and the fibers themselves have a natural antibacterial property.


Shelter Building and Homestead Defense

Bamboo is one of the most flexible and useful materials for creating either makeshift or semi-permanent shelters.  Bamboo poles are consistent in weight and size and a home can be built quickly.  Aside from a roof over your head, you can make beds, lashed together using vines or cordage to make sleeping platforms, and the same configuration can work for temporary lean-to frames, or a built up shack or hut complete with windows, doors, flooring and sidings, and fences. 

If you are in a dangerous environment and need to protect yourself, or just make traps for wild animals, the bamboo pit trap with fire hardened stakes can be a very effective deterrent against intrusions.  Stakes as fortifications against an onrush of intruders also make for good defense of a homestead in survival situations.

Over a billion people live safely and comfortably in bamboo houses worldwide within warm tropical places and even in winter conditions.

Water and Water Containers

Many species of bamboo contain potable water in their hollow joints.  Simply bore a hole in a section and drain the water. If you cut a bamboo trunk by sections, a section two nodes long is enough to serve as a container  to store and carry water as well. You cut off the top of a section to have a hollow chamber, fill it with water then plug the hole with a clean wooden plug, cords or industrial twine can be attached to the joint so it can have a strap to sling over your shoulder.  A bamboo container can even be placed near heat to allow the water inside to pasteurize or even boil in some cases for purification.  Containers can even serve as cooking pots to brew up a quick tea or cook a meal in.

Once your shelter is built and you have a semblance of a water cistern to store water, a bamboo pole can be split so that a rain gutter  can be attached to the run-off from rain from your roof.   Attach the bamboo gutter below the roof line for water collection.  This can also be used for watering your container garden or food plot.

Starting a Cooking Fire is Easier with Bamboo Tools

Dried bamboo makes for the best fire spindle for creating a friction fire because the fibrous material creates an ember quickly.

Hunting Tools and Caveman Weapons

Slender poles make for fine fishing spears. Chop off the end of a pole into prongs and sharpen, then place small pegs between the prongs to hold apart the points before fire hardening.  You can also use it as makeshift fishing poles.  Use heavier poles for animal spears or as a self-defense weapon. The slender poles make ideal hunting arrows and composite bows, and blowguns with darts, or clubs for larger game. 

If you have a trusty machete and or a good 'Rambo' utility knife, you can make a lot of bamboo derived tools, just chopping off sections or carving the pole into whatever shape will suit your needs.  You can fashion a cooking pot, a rice steamer, all kinds of utility containers like a cup, a canteen, a bowl and even eating utensils.

Bamboo Rafts can take you out to Sea for more Fish

Lash large poles together to make variations of a raft or attach a bamboo outrigger to a wood carved boat for a fast catamaran bangka rig.  Bamboo's hollow characteristics and air-filled chambers make it extremely buoyant, making any watercraft construct float and hold considerable weight.  If you make the raft big, enough you can make a sleeping platform and lash poles in to a teepee to provide shelter on the raft, or create a roof on a boat like the Vietnamese and Thai do for their sampans.

As you can see, a supply of bamboo can readily provide for your 3 basic survival needs, shelter, food, and water in whatever survival situation you encounter.  In a survival situation, all you need is a machete and a bamboo grove in your backyard, farm or homestead and you’re already equipped with the basic necessities to survive.
Not surprising that some of the most modern bicycle frames are now made with it. (One top manufacturer says it’s their most crash-resistant frame!)

On your Homestead, Bamboo keeps the land safe from natural disasters

Keeping a bamboo grove on your land can reduce soil erosion, and catch water runoffs from fields.  Flooding can also be prevented by allowing a growth to run wild as a tight dam near rivers prone to overflowing when extreme weather provides excess rainfall.  Bamboo groves protect fields from winds and hurricanes. They are a safe, natural habitat for wild animals, birds and a host of other organisms, that may provide food or just keep your ecosystem in sync.  A supply of bamboo is totally sustainable as a homestead resource.  Some varieties grow as fast as 3-4 feet per day, the fastest growing woody plant in the world!  

It just keeps on growing so it is 100 percent renewable.  Bamboo can grow in clusters and those that tend to “run” and spread wide and fast can be difficult to manage especially if the overgrowth overwhelms other physical structures and foliage.  You might need to prune on a regular basis  and use concrete or high density polyethylene (HDPE) as underground barriers for containing AND directing relentless growth.

The Usefulness of Bamboo in the Homestead

If you keep a food garden or food farm, bamboo poles and trellises help vines and vegetables grow more abundantly.  As natural protection, a bamboo field shields private property from public roads, dust and, when allowed to grow dense and thick, becomes a barrier impenetrable to the neighbor’s dog, and the neighbors themselves.

Secure your free range animals.  Make bamboo cages for gamefowl, poultry or livestock (rabbits) and feeding troughs for the big ones.  For goats or even a cow, a pile of bamboo leaves can serve as temporary feed when they eat up all the talahib or when drought makes most of the greenery dry tinder and inedible. 

Many people don’t realize they can generate income from farming bamboo. Bamboo only take months to grow.  You can safely harvest 20 percent of the crop and it will regenerate completely in just over a year.  If they grow into large enough poles, these can be gathered every three or four years. 

Don't even waste time.  Go start growing a manageable bamboo grove in your backyard yesterday.  For your survival stockpile, when the grid collapses, or when an extreme situation makes everything needed for living temporarily inaccessible, you get to live off the land far better than everyone without a clump of bamboo growing in your place,


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