Monday, July 16, 2012

Operation Move Everything Three Feet to the Left

So. That poorly behaved clump of bamboo. 

We cleared the giant dirt pile from in front of it and headed to Burns Feed Store in Gresham for a stock tank to contain it. A woman behind the counter asked if we needed help.

Yeah, I need one of those galvanized stock tanks.
(Sighs) Are you going to use it as a planter?
(Barely controls rolling her eyes) Are you going to put bamboo in it?

I know this combo is popular but I didn't realize it had become so trite. I had spent the whole ride over talking about how awful the city of Gresham is, so it stung to feel so uncool (though she was nice, otherwise). Well played, people of Gresham.

I also felt stupid because I didn't think it would be that bad getting the bamboo out of the ground. I'd just dig around the base and then I'd pop it out, like I was opening a jar or something. Despite the fact that it just stopped raining in Portland, the ground was hard as a rock. It kind of makes me wonder if that giant dirt pile wasn't blocking all the water from reaching the bamboo, causing it to send out runners in search of moisture.

The root ball was a dense, tangled mess that was reinforced by metal bars that someone had driven into the ground, I guess at the time of planting. I worked at it for a couple of hours with a shovel and a hose until Greg stepped in and said, "This needs a pickax."

He spent about 15 minutes with the pickax and got a trench burrowed around the root ball. He went off to play soccer and I pulled out the wood saw and started hacking off chunks. Then I hung on for dear life, rocking the sawed portion back and forth, cascading SPIDERS, OF MY GOD SPIDERS all around me until the chunk broke off.

You know what would have helped when filling this planter? All that dirt we hauled away a few weekends back. I wish I thought these things out better.

I didn't pack the bamboo in there, so this will have a chance to fill in (assuming it survives) and I won't have to thin it for a few years. It now blocks my neighbor's kitchen widow, which will be important when we build the deck off the back of the house.

I'm toying with getting a second feed trough for the rest of the bamboo. This planting area needs to stay narrow, because this will be the pathway around the deck and through the side yard and into the front.

I'd love to put Tetrapanax in a second stock tank (I'm just copying everything that's in Loree's yard at this point) but I think it might get too wide, making it difficult to get through here. Or maybe I just don't want to deal with the derision at Burns Feed Store. I hate feeling unhip.


  1. Oh but just think...when she says "back for another tank for your bamboo?" all sassy-like you can say "no, this one's for a Tetrapanax" she won't know what the hell that is and might even think it's a Lizard or something...or you could just call it a T-rex and really play with her mind.

  2. Try Coastal Farm and Ranch instead next time...

  3. A gardener's innocence is so heartrending . . ."I didn't think it would be so hard. . ." We have all been there. I've never moved bamboo three feet to the left, but I once tried to dig up and move amsonia (bluestar) two feet to the north. Same problem that you had.

    Your bamboo in a stock tank is much better. Trite, yes. Done before, yes. Necessary --- yes of course, and I would not roll my eyes. I think it looks great, and serves to keep that pathway narrowly planted. You did good. Another tank for the rest of the clump would be good if you can manage to dig any more up and if you can manage to ignore the saleslady.

  4. Heather the do take on the biggies, don't you? Linnton Feed & Seed has stock tanks too, and they are unfailingly nice. Besides, things get to be cliches for a reason, dontcha know.

  5. Oh man...we got the same thing there...I'm pretty sure they can pick us out when we walk in. I'm always tempted to say that it's for my new Heifer...but fear they would ask follow-up questions and know I was a phoney ;-) Still, it's worth it to have those puppies contained!

  6. I actually asked her, "How can you tell I don't have cows?" and she laughed and laughed. And yes, totally worth it! Thank you, by the way, for doing the research into pricing around town. If it saves me money I don't care if the clerk mocks me. :)

  7. Very entertaining post. But let me suggest, when she asks if you're putting bamboo in the stock tank, you give a little snort and say, "You mean your customers still do that?" As if now you're going to have to reconsider patronizing such an out-of-it establishment. Unless you think she's going to visit your garden.

  8. I suspect that nearly everyone who plants bamboo eventually reaches this stage, you know, unless they live someplace where it grows wild.

  9. I'm going to note down all these come backs lines when I go out to get another stock tank ...yes Bamboo

  10. Totally love this story - the stock tank part, not the impenetrable bamboo roots. I do think you could put Tetrapanax in a stock tank there: we have a similarly narrow area planted with it, and it goes up more than out, so raising it about 2 feet in the tank would create even more room below.