Beanpoles and pea sticks are the mainstay of coppicing operations
by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Not much that there can be said about beanpoles and pea stick, you may think, but that is where the error could lie.
Most of those poles for your beans today are imported bamboo and that certainly is not a sustainable way and neither does it benefit the local economy.
For almost an eternity gardeners and growers relied for beanpoles and pea sticks on the local coppice worker and both benefited. This can be the way again if we are just prepared to look at it from the right angle.
Beanpoles and sticks are one of the most reliable type of coppice product and can be harvested on a very short rotation coppice. Wood for other uses requires many more years to mature and thus beanpoles and pea sticks can be a reliable source of income to the coppice worker if the user is prepared too change his or her ways and go back to the ways it used to be rather than taking imported bamboo.
While it is true that bamboo is a fast growing grass – it is not a tree by any imagination despite the fact it can grow to forest size – it also has a long shipping distance. But, true, bamboo canes as plant supports generally weigh in cheaper than do coppice product beanpoles and pea sticks. However, on the sustainability scale bamboo canes and poles do not score very high because of their transportation costs, by way of fuel usage and thus emissions.
Locally cut wood products are by far more sustainable than anything else and they support local people and also, as coppice management of woods is a good thing, in creating biodiversity in the local environment even if one does not lend an actual hand in such biodiversity management schemes.
No more than forty years ago one would hardly see any bamboo canes in use as plant supports in vegetable gardens, allotments and even with commercial vegetable growers. Today, however, it is almost all that we do see and it is very rare indeed to see any locally grown and sourced beanpoles and other plant supports in use, which is rather a shame.
Beanpoles and pea sticks are the mainstay of most coppicing operations, closely followed, but larger wood is required for this, lump wood charcoal, and it is for that reason alone that we should, wherever possible, buy locally grown, cut and sourced plant supports and ideally directly from the woodcutter. That way he or she gets the money all and no middlemen take any cut.
Support your local woodland worker by buying his products and at the same time you are supporting the environment, biodiversity and the local economy.