Plant supports - weave a lattice for peas
Purple podded peas - Ezetha's Krombek Blauwschok
It's time to sow peas and peas need support - they are the mountaineers of the garden, carrying their own ropes in the form of tendrils that they throw out and belay onto any static object they touch.
Traditionally, twiggy pea sticks are pushed into the ground around the seeds at planting but I like to create a more decorative effect with a lattice framework and then plant this humble vegetable as a feature in the garden.
If you can find a couple of dozen or so sturdy prunings of dogwood, hazel, willow or birch, then you're in business. If you've got only short prunings then grow smaller dwarf pea varieties that will take to a shorter structure, up to 1m.
My favourite variety is a tall, dark purple-flowered and purple-podded pea, 'Ezetha's Krombek Blauwschok', the name is a bit of a mouthful, but it is a decorative and edible delight, good enough for flower borders and sweet enough to simply eat raw.
Here's my step-by-step guide to weaving lattice supports for peas. There are two styles to try. The easiest is made with twiggy prunings, like birch or hazel, and woven in situ where you are planting peas. If you have some beautiful long rods of willow or cornus and you have a bit more patience, then have a go at weaving something taller and a bit more stylish like the one below made with rods of golden willow, Salix alba vitellina.
Materials you will need
- 12-16 long and fairly sturdy straight rods from prunings
- String or garden wire
- Turf lawn or place in-situ for construction
- Insert half the rods approx 20cm apart at an angle into turf , or in situ where you are growing the peas
- Add two thicker stakes at either end
Step 1 Insert half the rods approx 20cm apart at an angle
Left: twiggy birch support | Right: willow lattice
- Lay more rods in the opposite direction and at 45 degrees to create the lattice effect
- Diamond shapes appear where rods cross
- Start to organise the rods into a weave, each one overlapping and alternating in and out to hold the lattice shape as you go
- When you are happy with the first row of 'diamonds', tie pairs of stakes securely with string where they cross
- At this stage, there is a distinct triangle forming within your framework, tie in the apex of this before continuing to weave
Step 2 Lay more rods in the opposite direction
- Moving out to the edge of the lattice, the outward leaning rods need to be woven back into the structure, leaving the outer two as the vertical sides
- Encourage the rods around and over the outer rod at each side to come back into the centre. Avoid bending and kinking the rods, a gentle curve is what is required
- Weave each rod in and out, overlapping as you go into the centre of the structure again
- Work your way up evenly and from side to side to maintain an even weave as you go
- Tie rods in as you go to keep the structure together in the centre
- The twiggy shorter structure is now nearly finished, just tie in the loose ends at the top and prune off excess twigs to neaten it up
Step 3 The outward leaning rods need to be woven back into the structure, leaving the outer two as the vertical sides
The next steps are for the taller willow structure, finishing off the top to secure all the ends is a bit more fiddly: (you may find a helping hand or two from a friend is useful if making the taller structure, to hold and tie things in as you work)
- The rods get thinner as you work upwards, you will reach a point when you need to finish and secure the top of the structure
- Bring in the outer two rods to the centre and weave them overlapping as you go to create a joined up top to the structure
- Tie off the top securely
- Tidy up by cutting off twiggy ends and bits of string
- Tie or wire the bottom rods together securely before the moment of truth - removing your structure from the turf!
Step 4 - for willow structure only
Bring in the outer two rods to the centre and weave them overlapping as you go to create a joined up top to the structure
Willow support in place
- Dig a shallow trench, push in the rods
- Use extra stakes at sides to anchor the support if necessary
- Sow a double row of peas in the trench and backfill with soil
There, job done....just waiting for those peas to grow now, mmm the anticipation is too much!
Sally Smith is an organic gardening teacher now working freelance after working at Garden Organic for many years and heading their advisory team. Weaving living willow structures and basket making is a passion and skill that Sally brings to her gardening.