How to grow peas
Surely nothing is more reminiscent of the English summers of days gone by than shelling fresh peas? Relatively easy to grow, peas are one of the most nutritious vegetables commonly found in our everyday diet.
They are packed with vitamins A, C, B-complex and K and are also a good source of fibre, protein and anti-oxidants as well as calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese.
As with so many of our home grown vegetables, they’re never quite as lovely as when eaten fresh from the pod, so why not make sure that this year, you grow your own crop of peas.
CHOOSING YOUR SPOT AND WHICH PEAS TO GROW
Your peas are going to need a sunny, moisture retaining and nutrient rich position and you will need to support taller varieties so make sure there is plenty of room for that.
As with most grow your owns, there’s a choice of variety from early maturing to super sweetness, so take a little time to choose which ones will suit you best.
Before you are ready to sow, make sure your dig and prepare the ground, adding plenty of compost or well-rotted manure well in advance.
If you are planting straight into the ground, do so in spring (March to June) making sure the soil is warm and the seedlings are well protected from cold and frost. Your seeds will rot if you plant into cold soil.
PLANNING AND PLANTING YOUR PEAS
If you choose different varieties (early, mid and later maturing) or if you plant at intervals of roughly 2 weeks, you can enjoy all the pleasures of grow your own peas more or less from June to October.
Sow your pea seeds approximately 5 cm deep and 6 cm apart (although maybe a little further apart if you are going to need room for supports such as bamboo canes or trellis). Back fill your seeds and firm in.
You’ll need to start supporting as your seedlings reach roughly 6 cm in height but if pushed for space, you can grow peas in containers or patio bags.
Depending on what variety you’ve chosen, your peas will mature from between 12 and 16 weeks. Once they start flowering you really need to make sure they have enough water. It will also help their growth to feed on a regular basis.
Adding some mulch around the base helps, but check how moist they are regularly – at least once a week.
Don’t forget that birds love peas nearly as much as we do, so you will need to net or protect your seeds until they are established.
TIME TO HARVEST
As they start to mature, keep an eye on your peas as the earlier they are picked the sweeter they’ll be. Don’t rest on your laurels though, harvest regularly to encourage your plants to keep on producing.
Start from the bottom of the plant where the peas mature first and work your way up. Although you can freeze your peas, they really are at their tastiest eaten straightaway.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT PEAS:
- Round, smoother pea seeds are hardier than wrinkled ones, which tend to be better for sweetness.
- They’ve been around a long, long time! So long in fact peas were discovered in Egyptian tombs.
- The pea plant tendrils are edible.
- One serving of peas contains as much vitamin C as two large apples and more fibre than a slice of wholemeal bread.
GO ON, GET GROWING
Apart from being tremendously good for you, peas are really pretty easy to grow and fairly low maintenance, making them a great addition to your veggie plot or patio. Of course, you don’t have to stick with just the shelling pea variety.
You could also try growing Mange Tout or Sugar Snap peas to add diversity to your garden and your dinner table.
We’d love to know how you get on with your pea growing and of course, whether you have any special recipes or ways of serving your precious peas. Share your experiences with us on our social media sites, or leave a comment below. Enjoy popping those peas out of their pods!