We’re in the Bs! Yay!
Bamboo is a useful, lovely grass, but troublesome due to it’s often extremely aggressive way of spreading into all the places you don’t want it. It’s useful nature is renowned throughout the world, used for making musical instruments, weapons, fibers for textiles, and building materials. It’s beauty is especially prized in Asian cultures: In Asia it is known as one of the “Four Noble Ones”–these being bamboo, plum, orchid and chrysanthemum. In Japan, its evergreen nature has made it one of the “Three Friends in Winter”– Pine, Bamboo, and Plum. Bamboo forests often surround Shito Shrines to work as a barrier to evil.
Bamboo does form an effective barrier, but the problem is, it doesn’t stay where you put it– it spreads, and is near impossible to stop. Even containment methods tend to fail, as the underground rhizomes tend to burst through or worm around just about anything. Personally, as much as I appreciate the beauty of bamboo, I would recomment not growing it so as to block what little sun you neighbor gets, against the fence so that it grows into her berry bramble, and then cut all yours down to put in a two story storage shed that blocks all the light! Just sayin’ . . .
Likewise, as it tends to go out of control, if you do plant, keep to species native to your area. Please, the kudzu is bad enough. . .
All that aside, dried bamboo stalks make fabulous garden stakes– use for once season, and then break up and add to the compost pile. It may be the only way your neighbor forgives you for cluttering up her bramble. Young shoots are edible (well, unless you happen to be growing Giant Bamboo, in which case the shoots are chock full of cyanide. Other types are fine), and popular in Asian cuisines.
In sum, bamboo is very useful, but be sure to keep on top of it, lest it take over the entire yard.
Barley is a commonly grown grain for animal feed, malting for beer, whiskey, or vinegar, and human consumption. It’s not really something you can grow in a garden– unless you have a good amount of land, in which case it’s no longer “In the Garden” and more “On the Farm.” But it grows quickly and is rather drought resistant, so if one wants a grain, it might do.
There are two main types of Barley– Two Row and Six Row. Two row has less protein than Six row, thus more sugar for fermentation. Thus Six row is best for animal feed, two row for malting– though American Lagers tend to use Six row. Either can be used for grinding into flour, or pearling for other uses.