Real Men Sow

Growing Peas Up a Wigwam

In the spirit of experimenting with space saving growing methods, I decided to try growing peas up a wigwam this year. I’ve just made my first harvest of mangetout, and this is how I did it.

1. Making a Structure
I used 8 6ft bamboo canes to make my structure. They occupy an area of 3ft squared, and I joined them at the top with a cable tie to make my wigwam shape. I put a pot over the top because I’m clumsy, and there is every chance I would poke my eye out on unguarded sharp things.

wigwam

2. Something for the Peas to Climb Up
I then began tying string around the canes to provide the pea plants with something to climb up. Starting at the bottom, I tied a knot, and wound once around each cane, as in the picture. When I got back to my original knot, I tied the string off, moved up a few centimetres, and went around again.

wigwambottom

I did this until I got to the top, and hey presto! a wigwam.

wigwamcomplete

4. Planting the Peas
Initially, I planned to put one plant alongside each cane, plus another one in between (16 pea plants in total).

peas

I had a couple of spare plants, so I squeezed them in, giving me a total of 19 around the base of the wigwam.

5. Keeping the Peas Close to the Wigwam
As the peas grew taller, I inspected them regularly to make sure they were grabbing on to the string. This doesn’t always happen automatically and the peas grow outwards, so when necessary I ran a length of string around the peas to keep them in close to the wigwam.

6. Harvest Time!
Roughly two months later and I’m harvesting from plants that have grown right to the top of the wigwam.

mangetout

I’ve grown Golden Sweet this year, as they grow very tall, making them a good choice for wigwams. They are a paler colour than normal peas and mangetout, and I bought them from Real Seeds.

How much did my structure cost?
When I think of growing vertically or in pots, I can’t help but be mindful of how much extra cost might be added. As much as I am inspired by small spaces and attractive veg plots, I don’t want mine to cost the earth. My canes were 30p each (£2.40) and the ball of strong a pound, although I didn’t use all of it.

Therefore, I’d estimate that my structure cost me about £3. My first harvest of 75g was worth 50p, and with plenty more flowers and baby mangetout on the plants, I reckon I’ll make that back and more.

The canes are good quality, so I’ll be able to use them again too.

What would I do next time?
I’d definitely use taller canes, as the plants look like they have plenty in reserve, and I probably could have planted more peas around the structure to increase the yield. If I had gone closer, I reckon at least 25 pea plants would have sat happily together without impacting on growing power.

Has anyone else grown peas in a wigwam? How did you get on? Anything I’ve done that you would do differently?

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5 Comments

  1. david shinnJune 15, 2013 at 12:48 pmReply

    Jono,you could have tried sandpapering the canes to roughen up the shiny surface so that the plants got more grip.Maybe you would’nt need any strings then?
    The canes will work better next year having aged a bit.

    That’s a very early crop.I’m also growing Golden Sweet from the Real Seed Co and (as I am also growing a normal variety with them) have made the mistake of just using some spare 4 ft height wire netting between stakes.The plants are bounding upwards and I’ll probably need to nip out the tops to stop them.I’ll use higher netting or long canes/sticks next time!
    I usually grow climbing peas and beans on wigwams but this year with my beans have used a longer framework on my allotment plot as I have the space.

  2. Jono

    JonoJune 15, 2013 at 1:09 pmReplyAuthor

    Hey David, thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried that, but will do. I have an old football net that I could have used too.

    What other pea are you going from Real Seeds? I’ve got Telephone, but the germination was really poor. The Golden Sweet has been great, but Telephone has struggled.

    It is an early crop, but generally temperatures in this little corner are quite mild compared to others, so a good place for growing.

  3. david shinnJune 15, 2013 at 8:34 pmReply

    Yes, the Golden Sweet are very vigorous.
    The other one was an unopened packet of Thompson & Morgan Lincoln heritage peas from last year (99p) but still in date.
    Germination a bit poor but that seems to be the form given what’s happening on the other plots.
    Dwarf beans also poor but the Cherokee climbing beans from Real Seed are doing well as are the Morton’s very mixed lettuce and their chards.

  4. SuziMarch 22, 2014 at 1:28 pmReply

    Hi Jono, I tried this today but couldn’t get the bamboo canes very far into the soil. How did you do it? I’m a beginner to this so am sure there’s a simple answer!

    • Jono

      JonoMarch 22, 2014 at 5:57 pmReplyAuthor

      Hey Suzi – brute force and ignorance! The ground was quite hard when I put the canes in, so I dug it over a bit to loosen. That helped get them in.

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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