National Beanpole Week is Good for the Environment

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It's National Beanpole Week and after you roll your eyes in wonder, stick with this for a moment. You will discover another unknown and cherished aspect of English culture and its love of the land.

Coppicing is the traditional form of small forest management. Tree stumps are cut down to ground level. New shoots and suckers grow out from them while the root system is untouched . The new growth can grow to more than 2 metres long. The underlying habitat is a haven for mice, birds and bugs and the shoots are harvested for...beanpoles.

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The issue is that it takes labour and manpower to maintain these woodlands and the expertise and incentive to do so is decreasing. Britain lost 90% of its coppiced woodland during the 20th century and National Beanpole Week is an attempt to educate people about it. Traditionally managed coppiced woodlands are an important part of the countryside because they supply sustainable wood, provide a rich wildlife habitat, support hundreds of rural jobs and keep many ancient skills and traditions alive.

Although we do go on and on about the benefits of bamboo on TreeHugger, bamboo beanpoles are one product where bamboo is not better. The importing of bamboo beanpoles has led to the loss of the traditional skills and thus employment.

By switching to British-grown coppiced beanpoles, gardeners and growers will be doing their bit to support the environment, wildlife, rural jobs, ancient skills and traditions - and their beans. Hazel beanpoles which can be as long as 8 feet and have a diameter of 1 3/4" are far superior. Many gardeners think that they are better for growing growing beans as they allow the beans to grip and climb more easily. Other products are hurdles and fences, pea sticks and dahlia supports.

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The coppicing system is part of a woodland management system that has been in place in England for hundreds of years. Typically, the woodland is divided up into lots and the coppicing is carried out on a rotation cycle of 20 years, giving the trees time to grow back and be sustainable. Species that can be coppiced include ash, oak, alder, sweet chestnut, hazel and birch.

As the appropriately-named Bob Flowerdew says "It really makes good sense to use more British coppice wood products in the garden, so I'm supporting this year's National Beanpole Week by adding my voice to the call for gardeners and growers to switch to locally-grown coppiced beanpoles and pea sticks."

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