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Growing Peas

Find out more about growing delicious peas

Growing Peas

vegetables | grow your own

Growing Peas

No vegetable patch should be without peas. When peas are picked they immediately start degrading, so that within an hour they already lost much of their sweetness and flavour. Even top chefs often use frozen peas in their recipes as the taste of a pea frozen within a couple of hours of picking is better than that of the fresh peas available at market. However nothing can top the flavour of a home grown pea picked and immediately eaten straight from the pod.

Growing Peas

Peas are perfectly suited to the British climate preferring regular rainfall and temperatures below 20 degrees Celcius. They prefer a sunny spot, but will still grow well in partial shade. Peas prefer to grow in well-dug soil (as their roots grow deeply) with plenty of compost or other organic material mixing in.

Nitrogen fixing nodules on the roots of a pea plant

As legumes, peas take in nitrogen from the air (rather than from the soil) and actually store it in nodules which grow on their roots (see image above). If you try to grow peas on soil which is already nitrogen-rich, the plants will grow lots of leaves, but not many peas - therefore never add nitrogen fertiliser to the soil around peas.

Planting Peas

Peas need between 12 and 15 weeks between sowing and harvesting, with the first peas ready to eat in June. By planting different varieties between March and June, it is possible to have a continuous supply of delicious peas from June to October.

Pea seedlings

Peas can either be planted in small compost filled pots or, in a length of drainpipe (so they can easily be slid into their final growing bed later), or directly planted in the ground in the summer. Sow the seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. To increase the successful germination rate, soak the pea seeds in water for a few hours before planting. Seedlings should appear within a couple of weeks.

Pea trellis made out of old dead twigs

Peas need something to climb up, but there is no need to spend money on expensive trellising etc. Instead just stab some 3 foot long twigs into the ground along side the peas and the peas will hold onto them happily. If you construct a twig wigwam over each group of three or four seeds it will act as an excellent climbing frame and protect the seedlings from hungry birds (see image above). If you have many pea plants, then garden canes with string tied between them will act as an excellent trellis on which the peas will climb.

Harvesting Peas

Young peas are much sweeter and more delicious than old peas, so pick peas from plants as soon as they are ready. Start at the bottom of the plant and work you way up as the days and weeks go by. The more often peas are harvested from a plant, the more peas the plant will eventually produce.

Harvesting peas

When your pea plants have finished cropping, throw the leafy stems onto the compost heap, but dig in the roots. This will set nitrogen in the soil ready to feed the vegetables to be planted in next year's rotation (typically brassicas or potatoes).

Article Published: 16:16, 18th Jul 2008

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