A by-product of coppicing and thinning, pea sticks and bean poles are an alternative to imported, bamboo canes in the garden or vegetable plot.
Bean poles are cut from shoots of hazel and sweet chestnut. Pea sticks are just twiggy sticks which are stuck in the ground. The twigginess is ideal for pea tendrils to get a grip on. Hazel or birch are good for this (birch twigs also make good brooms), but watch out for anything that might root, like willow.
They need to be about 7’ in length and thin enough in diameter to push into the ground easily. Pea sticks are pretty much disposable, but your bean poles will last a couple of seasons if they’re pulled up and stored somewhere dry. Sweet chestnut is the toughest. In addition, pea sticks, if grouped together in a circle, are bendy enough to be woven together at the tops giving added support.
You can gather these for yourself from your garden or woodland, or you can quite often buy them through somewhere like Ecolots or from your local community woodland or the Forestry Commission.