Besides many types of bamboo shoots also being edible, bamboo serves a very real and very functional, flexible purpose as a companion plant in any food forest or edible landscape, and can be used to solve many gardening problems in an edible landscape or food forest.

1. Bamboo Provides a Microclimate to Help Zone Push Cold-Tender Perennials

Are you trying to perennialize your sweet potatoes? Bamboo might be the solution you’ve been looking for. Your citrus trees not quite making it through the winter? Plant them between two patches of clumping bamboo to block harsh, freezing winds and insolate those tender citrus trees.

Bamboo very quickly can provide a protective canopy that will create a warmer microclimate for plants that otherwise would not be able to survive in certain climates.

2. Bamboo Can Provide A Fast-Growing Shade Screen For Sun-Sensitive Plants and Fruit Trees

Has your fuyu persimmon tree been getting sun-scorched? I know the feeling! Plant some bamboo beside it, water it in well, and feed it. Placing it on whichever side gets that afternoon light will help soften the hardy fist of summer sunlight and keep your poor fruit tree from baking so it can be merry, have a microclimate with a higher humidity, and grow more quickly.

3. Bamboo Can Be Grown or Harvested To Provide Trellises For Your Vining Plants

Grapes, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi vines, you name it! Bamboo can support it! Whether you harvest the bamboo canes or simply grow bamboo among your grapevines and blackberries, there are multiple options for putting bamboo to use to help train and support peas, kiwi, and other vining or caning plants in a way that also gives you a second harvest (of bamboo shoots)!

4. Bamboo Roots Soak Up And Store Water To Release When Needed

Anyone who has ever grown a plant knows that absolutely no plant can stay alive without water. As an edible landscaper/food forester/food gardener/homesteader, it becomes an absolute nightmare when your crops or plants start wilting due to a summer drought.

But does that mean we should install a thousand drip lines, dig wells, or water by hand? Maybe, if that’s what you’re into, but what you should also do is plant some clumping bamboo. The bamboo roots will soak up water when it rains–or when it is watered, in general–to be released later as needed. In this way, you have found another way to store water for a longer period of time in your edible landscape or food forest.

Check out these other ways to keep water in your edible landscape or food garden.

5. Bamboo Sheds As It Grows and Mulches Itself…And The Plants Around It

Mulching is a good practice in any garden or edible landscape as its ability to retain moisture, protect the soil from the hot sun or harsh winter winds, and from erosion due to rain pelting it. But why not find a way to make it easier on yourself by planting more plants that create mulch as they grow?

How wonderful would it be to dump your coffee grounds or tea leaves in a patch of bamboo and watch the bamboo turn that into more culms, and, as those culms grow in and shed their protective sheath, you watch mulch magically appear without all the hauling and huffing?

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