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Bamboozled by a stalker

March 17, 2012

I live in a small cottage on a small lot in what I consider to be the perfect small town, but my sanity is being threatened by a monster which is stalking me with the stealth of a serial killer.
Years ago, well-meaning neighbors planted bamboo along our fence line. I guess they heard that I was a little crazy and felt we needed a buffer. The neighbors have been replaced several times, leaving me to battle the monster bamboo by myself. It’s been creeping closer and closer to my house with each passing year.
Who you gonna call? The roving stalks are coming up between the cracks in my sidewalk and through the floor of my greenhouse. One slithered up in the drain as I was enjoying a bubble bath the other night. (Okay, not really, but I’m expecting that to happen any minute.)
Yesterday, I did an experiment and measured one errant stalk. It grew 24 inches in one day. Some of the shoots are the circumference of a baseball bat. I tried to pull some up by the roots which were the texture and strength of barbed wire. In fact, I read that bamboo is used as reinforcement for concrete in some countries.
My garden advisor told me to buy some steel-toed boots and go out each morning and kick down the new sprouts as they appear. Supposedly the kicked stalks won’t come back. So I canceled my gym membership and I’m “bamboozling” for 30 minutes each morning. I figure I’m burning about as many calories as I would kick-boxing.
The new sport has become an excellent stress releaser and an outlet for pent-up emotions. Like Emeril Lagasse, I shout a joyful “bam!” every time my boot makes contact and slings the stalk over my head. 
Left unattended, the towering stalks can reach 15 feet and are quite beautiful until you realize they are sneaky little freaks of nature. For each one bagged, two more appear and if you listen carefully, you can hear them chuckling as you fight the losing battle. I sprayed them with Round-Up and they tossed it back like champagne.
So chalk up one more repugnant import from China where these monsters originated. I read up on them and learned they are a delicacy enjoyed by the Panda bear population in Asia. Anyone know where I can buy a panda?
My friend, Ann, had a good idea. She suggested I put a sign in my front yard advertising “Free Fishing Poles, Pick Your Own.”  
So I’m declaring war on bamboo, but I may be forced to pave my garden to stop the enemy’s advancing infantry. Bamboo season ends in late May when they seem to go back to sleep and build up energy for the following spring.  
If anyone has suggestions for an effective bamboo buster, I’m open to anything.
 
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at http://www.deludeddiva.com.

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