06 July, 2008


Gardening in the tropics is very interesting by times (read challenging). A few years back, we decided that a nice bamboo would really look good in a particular spot in the back yard. And not just any bamboo will do. There is a particular variety called "Timor Black" (bambusa lako) which held a particular appeal with its glossy black stems and tight clumping form. And it grows about 12-15 metres in height.

We purchased said bamboo from the local expert in N Queensland and planted it- fed it, watered it, nurtured it and "Boy howdy" did it respond. It grew with a vigour I haven't seen in too many other plants. The only problem(s) was/were that it wasn't "Timor Black", wasn't anywhere near black in colour, was almost 20 meters tall and although it did grow in a clump, had a rather undesirable tendency to lean across the yard and throw much shade across what had been a very lush, grassy area for the the dogs (and humans) in the backyard.

Said grassy area had become a dust bowl and so last week the bamboo was dispatched to the mulch pile via chainsaws and wood chippers along with a large mango tree and a goodly percentage of the poinciana. The tree lopping blokes have a machine called a stump grinder which is a rather nasty looking petrol powered carbide-tipped machine which turns the meager remaining stump of your mango (or any other tree species for that matter) into a lovely pile of soft wood chips.

Works pretty well for trees stumps- bamboo is another story. The root mass for bamboo is thicker than hair on a dog and this machine doesn't go nearly deep enough so it was left to Dee and I to remove as many of the "culms" (the part from which the bamboo grows) and as much of the root mass as possible. So armed with sharpened shovel and axe, mattock, garden rake and crowbar- I excavated several cubic metres of bamboo roots and culms over the last two days to a depth of about 30 cm. For a while it looked like we were putting in a spa but eventually we got there. Good riddance to bad garbage I say.

And I hear you ask- "What has this got to do with cycling?"

Well, dealing with this horticultural mistake has taken me off my bike for most of yesterday and today and I'm not happy. I mean recovering from last week's cold was one thing, but I was so tired from swinging the mattock and the axe and shoveling and prying that I couldn't even stay awake for all of Stage 1 in the TdF. "Bl**dy bamboo". I suspect that Stage II will be much the same- settle down in front of the telly and listen to Phil Leggat and Paul Sherwin and quietly drift off to sleep about 50 km into the stage.

Ride safe

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