20 April 2012

It's National Beanpole Week!

Sweet peas on a wigwam of hazel poles.
National Beanpole week starts on the 21st April with the aim of celebrating Britain’s coppice woodlands, the animals and plants that live in them, the coppice workers who look after them and the beanpoles and other coppice wood products they produce. I always use hazel poles at Hill Top to grow runner beans and sweet peas up; they look much more in keeping than their shiny bamboo cousins and I’m sure the beans find it easier to grip on to their rough bark. The twiggy top bits are ideal for growing peas up too.

I gather my poles from local woods (this year’s came from the Windermere lake shore footpath after some thinning work), but if you’re not fortunate enough to have your own woodland then why not visit www.beanpoles.org.uk and see if there’s a beanpole supplier near you.

This year's beanpoles awaiting their beans.

Gardening books will tell you that the ideal time to sow runner beans is a week after the last frost, but since we can never tell which is the last frost, I normally wait until the first week in May and keep my fingers crossed! As a back-up, I grow some seedlings in the greenhouse to replace any that get frosted or nibbled off by mice or rabbits. This year I'm growing the varieties 'Painted Lady' and 'Scarlet Emperor'.

Speaking of rabbits, there have been no sightings of the little critters actually in the garden for a couple of weeks (plenty in the paddock though), so maybe my fencing work has done the trick? Gardener 1 - Rabbits 0 maybe?

Not a rabbit.

I did spot this baby blackbird sheltering in the rhubarb patch this morning though.

Post and photos Pete the Gardener