Grow your own plant sup­ports

Garden Answers (UK) - - Celebrate -

Na­tive hazel has been grown for cen­turies as a crop, with its stout stems har­vested or ‘cop­piced’ for all man­ner of uses. They’re per­fect for sweet pea sup­ports and, be­cause the stems are rough, the plants can cling on and won’t need ty­ing in. Hazel needs sun or part shade and it’s best to avoid wa­ter­logged soil. To es­tab­lish a plant or two, plant one-year-old whips Novem­ber–March, 1.5m (5ft) apart. Plant­ing closely pro­duces the long, straight stems, whereas wider spac­ings re­sult in more branched growth. In three years you should have sturdy enough plants to make the first cut. Prune stems back to 5cm (2in); make sub­se­quent cuts as low as pos­si­ble. Cut ev­ery four years for thin plant sup­ports; ev­ery five to six years for sturdy bean­poles. No space to grow your own poles? Coppice Prod­ucts (01952 432769; www.coppice-prod­ucts.co.uk) has a use­ful on­line di­rec­tory.

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