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Growing Guide

Growing Peas

Peas are practically perfect as Mary Poppins might say. The peas in their pod pop in your mouth and are sweet and delicious.

​Growing Peas

Peas are practically perfect as Mary Poppins might say. The peas in their pod pop in your mouth and are sweet and delicious. Even the pods of some varieties are crisp and edible.

Peas are annual legumes; along with beans and many other plants. Most legumes have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in nodules on the roots. So, they are important in adding fertility to the soil and are useful in crop rotation.

It is the seeds and pods of peas that are usually eaten. The seeds are green and spherical and are arranged in a row inside a green pod. In most garden pea varieties, it is only the seeds/peas that are eaten but sugar pea pods can be eaten along with the seeds/peas. They are sometimes known as sugar snap peas or by their French name; mange-tout (eat all). These are the easiest peas to grow.

How to Sow Your Peas

In spring, identify an open sunny place in your garden with good drainage. Make a trench about 5 cm deep and 15 cm wide; an Atlas Trade Swan Neck Hoe is ideal for this. Sow pea seeds in the trench about 8 cm apart and cover with the soil. Firm the soil down lightly.

Most peas other than dwarf varieties will need support from trellis or canes.

If more rows of peas are to be grown keep them the height of the pea variety away from each other.

Grow a succession of pea crops with single sowing of an early, second early and maincrop variety. The first crop is likely to be ready for harvest after 10-13 weeks. Check the packet of the varieties chosen for their time to harvest. Peas grow best in temperatures about 21°C, they tend to stop producing above 28°C.

Care

Although peas have root nodules to fix nitrogen, they will still benefit from some McGregor’s VegeMax fertiliser.

Water well after sowing, and water when the flowers appear and a couple of weeks later. Otherwise only water when the peas wilt.

Watch out for mice eating your pea seeds or seedlings. If you find holes in the soil where you planted the seeds or the newly emerged seedlings have been chopped off, it is likely to be mice that are eating them.

Powdery mildew is a common disease of peas. This shows as a white/grey powdery deposit on the upper side of leaves. You can protect your peas with super sulphur spray.

Harvesting

With a succession of varieties, you should be able to harvest fresh peas from December to April.

When the peas have finished producing, their stems can be collected and dried to use as pea straw mulch. Leave the pea plants growing in the soil until they die and dry out and then cut off the stems at ground level. The drying can be encouraged by placing the cut stems on a mesh to keep them off the damp soil. Allow the roots to rot down in the soil and release nitrogen back into the soil for the next crop to use.

12 August 2020