How Green are your Bean Poles?

Most of us prop up our peas, beans and other climbing plants using plastic netting and bamboo canes imported from China.  After all that is what is available in the local garden centre.Now some organisations in England are working to revive the art of coppicing, and other small woodland crafts.  This picture shows a plant wigwam built from bean poles and younger coppice shoots. Bean poles, 7 to 8 feet long and between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches in diameter, often from hazel or sweet chestnut trees, were the traditional support but their use has declined with the easy availability of imported bamboo canes.  However some say that the rougher and irregular surface of traditional bean poles promotes better growth.  In addition the tops of the coppiced branches can be used as peas sticks, replacing the use of plastic netting.Using home-grown wood products can create new rural jobs, protect British woodland wildlife, at the same time as reducing damage to the rainforests. Now a community organisation Allotment Forestry is suggesting ways that allotmenteers and gardeners could grow and manage their own small coppice:  http://www.allotmentforestry.com/fact/growown.htm.  They also have a directory of woodland craft workers, including one organisation in Scotland – in Midlothian.

Along with a couple of other organisations they are sponsoring a National Beanpole Week from 25 April to 3 May to encourage the use of home grown bean and pea supports.  For more details see the web sites:www.beanpoles.org.uk and www.coppice-products.org.uk as well as www.allotmentforestry.com

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