Fertilizing regularly (3 times a year) is probably the best way to get your bamboo to grow faster and taller. It is easy to see the difference between the groves that are fertilized regularly and those that aren't.
The first couple of years of a new planting are crucial. Add a couple of inches of well composted manure in a circle around the new planting and cover with mulch. If you can't get compost use a commercial fertilizer like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10. The best times to fertilize are in late winter, late spring, and mid summer and fall.
The best (and safest) way to fertilize is to place the fertilizer/manure/mulch on top of the soil after backfilling. Although you don't "need" to fertilize your bamboo you will be much happier with it's growth if you do.
Water liberally whenever you fertilize. As a side note, always water during a dry spell, it really helps to produce more and larger shoots in the spring.
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