Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.

The Arches

Last year’s bean harvest was very successful; Lola and Tom created many delicious dishes. The dense mature plants caused unexpected issues; the bean structures were so dense with produce that they caused heavy areas of shade in other raised beds, which limited what could be grown successfully. The potager also lacked height in some areas. After much discussion, we have decided to create a walkway made up of a series of hazel arches. The permanent box and lavender edgings of the potager inhibited where these arches could be made. The only viable solution was to remove some lawn and create  a series of planting spaces. These narrow spaces could then be joined to the existing raised beds by the new arches.

Luckily, we have sourced a local friendly and reliable hazel supplier  http://coppicecrafts.blogspot.com/ who also runs coppicing workshops and he has talked us through the best method for sound construction.

The hazel rods we chose are 10 feet tall. The first foot or so will be sunk into the ground and the remaining 9 feet will be bent together to join and intertwine and then be secured to form an arch which should be high enough for the majority of people to walk under without getting beaten by beans or clobbered by courgettes. We have purchased extra poles, which will be cut as required and then woven through the sides of the structures to give extra strength. The resulting shade caused by the mature bean plants should in theory fall onto areas of gravel.

I have a vision of a searing August, a line of natural arches dripping with yellow and purple beans and golden climbing courgettes with carpets of flowering lobelia at the base.  Helpful benches could be positioned under the archways to give a cool seating area for staff (and customers) to hide and reflect. It is finally time to stop sketching, googling and discussing and get on with the actual task of constructing the arches.

My hope is that as we are using a natural product and a traditional method the arches will evolve according to each hazel poles individual shape.  I used pea sticks last week for the first time and now would not dream of using another method to grow peas. The absolute natural partnership between the pea tendrils and each quirky stick was apparent within minutes. Overnight they found each other, and are already inseparable.

Italian black podded peas

Italian black podded peas


Luckily, we chose a freckle-forming day to start construction. Jevan aka Happy feet was on hand for the taller tasks.

The first task of the day for Aron was to move the rods.


It seemed unlikely that these enormous rods would have sufficient flexibility without snapping, but praise be, the first pair were happy to oblige.

The first arch, but does it pass the Jevan test?


A few scrapes, a lot of grunts and giggles, aching arms and a tremendous feeling of achievement at the end of a huge team effort.



Already it has a very strong personality; the changing patterns thrown onto the gravel are an unexpected bonus. The sides have instantly formed frames, which beautifully capture the magnificent tulips. I have lost two seed planting days but already it is worth it, and now I get to sow even more beans.


limegarden@sky.com • 21st April 2016

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