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How to Grow Peas

22 April, 2013 — Leave a comment

Let’s Talk About… How to Grow Peas!

This article describes How to Grow Peas, the best methods, tools & techniques as well as when and how to harvest Peas.

Peas are one of those foods we ask ourselves ‘is it a fruit or a vegetable?’ just like the tomato or the cucumber. Peas are technically a fruit, but in cooking we class them as a vegetable. The pea plant has a one-year life cycle and is a favourite among many home-grown produce enthusiasts.

Nothing compares to delicious, sweet, freshly-picked peas eaten raw straight from the pods, enjoyed by adults and children alike. They are a fairly easy vegetable to grow and even a small allotted space can give a good crop (some people even choose to grow them in troughs on the patio!).

Peas can often be victim to birds and other animals, as can many crops, but this is easily put right with some fine protective netting.

How to Grow Peas: What do you need to know about growing conditions?

Peas can be sown as soon as the soil reaches 10°C, growing best between 13 and 18 degrees. Choose a position with good drainage, as peas won’t do very well in wet soils. If the soil you plan to grow your peas in is acidic, it should be limed first. While your peas should be in a sunny location, peas tend to grow better in cooler weather, during spring. Make sure your planting area is weed free, and add some well-rotted manure to make your soils fertile.

How to Grow Peas: Useful Tools and Equipment

When growing peas, it is quite useful you have a few bits and pieces to make your life easier.

  1. Patio Bags – perfect for growing peas out of the ground, especially where space is limited. Opt for bushier varieties of pea to get the most from these.
  2. Protective Netting – pea pods often fall victim to bird if they are not protected properly. Use netting or mesh to keep them at bay and protect your plants.
  3. Canes – to stop your peas flopping over, especially when they are small and weak, and again when they are taller and heavier, putting more pressure on the roots.
  4. Pea-Moth Pesticides – pea moth lay their eggs on your peas when they are flowering. Have you ever popped open your pod and found little caterpillars? That is ‘thanks’ to the pea moth. Use pesticides a week after flowering and then again two weeks later to keep in control. Alternatively, use insect-proof mesh to protect your peas.

How to Grow Peas: What about useful tips and techniques?

Before you start, there are three ways you can start the growing off.

  1. You can plant straight to the ground once the soil temperature is above 10°C.
  2. You can plant to the ground if it has been below 10°C and you have warmed it using polythene sheeting and continue to keep the seedlings warm with horticultural fleece until the ground is warm enough.
  3. You can sow the seeds indoors in individual pots (the 3” deep ones are ideal) until they around six inches in height and then transplant them into the ground. This can protect the baby pea plants from being attacked by rodents and slugs.

Growing peas is very easy:

  • Create a trench, ideally 5cm (2 inches) deep and 15cm (6 inches) wide.
  • Sow the seeds (or your little plants if you have grown them indoors) around 2-3 inches apart, covering them with soil, then pat it down slightly.
  • As your plants start to grow, use a can to encourage them upwards. Alternatively, use larger twigs from pruned trees in your garden – these work just as well. Your peas may need encouraging to grow up the cane. Gently coaxing them around may do the trick, or you can tie them loosely with string if they are a bit more stubborn.
  • Water your pea plants regularly, but do not allow soil to become waterlogged.

Harvesting your peas:

  • Peas are usually ready for harvest between June and September.
  • Harvest your peas regularly. This will ensure your crop will continue to grow healthily across the season. If you don’t pick them often, it can be detrimental to your plants, resulting in fewer flowers, fewer pods, and as a result, less crop.
  • Opinion on when pods should be harvested varies, and the recommendation varies between the different types of peas. For example, mange tout or sugar snap peas should be harvested when the pods are around three inches or 7.5cm long and just as the peas are beginning to develop. Other varieties intend the peas to be harvested when they are much plumper.

How to Grow Peas: Did you know?

Did you know that the roots of peas store nitrogen? Resist the urge to dig up the roots at the end of the season, just cut down the plant and toss it on the compost heap. Dig the roots into the ground and the nitrogen will be reabsorbed into your soil, releasing in next year’s crop as per the natural order.

Peas are one of our five-a-day and pea pods can be a fun way to get picky children to have vegetables in their diet. If you have children or grandchildren, get them involved with picking and later either preparing a meal or eating their own hand-picked peas straight from the pod.

External Links – How to Grow Peas

Let’s Talk About.. How to Grow Strawberries!

Strawberries are one of the most versatile and easy fruits to grow, which is great for those of us who wish to grow our own delicious varieties of one of the most popular British fruits. Thankfully, they’re able to tolerate a wide variety of soil types, from light and sandy to the heaviest of clay soils, so combining this with the fact that they’re simple in their demand of nutrients, strawberry varieties can be found growing all over the world.

They’re also able to survive most and flourish in all weather conditions, from the UK’s cold and wet weather to the extreme heats of Spain, which, seemingly, makes them a hardy fruit that’s a great starter for those of us just starting out in the world of fruit growing. The biggest negative however, is that as a fruit strawberries are subject to a range of diseases and nuisance pests.

How to grow Strawberries

How to grow Strawberries: Strawberries growing in the ground. Photograph by Robin Riat

How to grow Strawberries – So what do you need to know about growing conditions?

Let’s start with the ideal soil. Well-drained, rich in humus with an adequate water supply is the best. Strawberries love a pH level of around 6.5 and prosper best in soil which is weed and debris free. If you want to prepare your garden soil for strawberry growing for the first time, add garden compost at 1 barrow to 4m2. You will also need to add 75g per m2 of bone meal and the same of seaweed meal. If you think your earth is lacking nutrients, add one barrow of well-rotted manure (per 12 m2). You may also want to add 5cm layer of leaf-mould to the top 10cm of soil before planting to encourage healthy growth. In terms of light conditions, strawberries grow best in full sun and out of the direct wind. Remember that officially, planting should occur between the end of June and September.

How to grow Strawberries - What about useful tips and techniques?

  • Lay plants in rows every 35cm. Make sure they have enough room to grow. Keep them approximately 75cm apart.
  • Always pick ripe strawberries; otherwise they will rot and infect other fruit. Prevent this by checking plants every other day once ripening starts to occur.
  • Placing straw (barley) in and between plants will help subdue weeds and stop fruit coming into contact with the ground.
  • Once fruit starts showing, remove all dead leaves and check plants regularly for insects (especially aphids). If signs of infestation, take action with appropriate pesticides.
  • If any plants do not flourish, get rid of them right away, as they’re probably infected with a virus.
  • After cropping, clear up the plant bed immediately. Cut back the plants (leaving a stump of 10cm) and remove all dead leaves and straw. Keep soil watered and at a good pH level to ensure future growth.
  • After two to three yields, be prepared to move your strawberry planting location and start a rotational system, perhaps with a rhubarb crop.

How to grow Strawberries - Useful Tools and Equipment:

In addition to ensuring your soil is suitable for strawberry plants, you can also consider using a range of useful tools & products which will help you get the best out of your efforts.

  1. Strawberry Mats – Fabric strawberry mats can be placed at the bottom of each plant, instead of straw, and will help retain moisture.
  2. Bird Scaring Tape – This tape can be attached to small wooden poles around the plants. It will shake in the breeze or wind, creating a noise to frighten birds and prevent them from snacking.
  3. Hanging Baskets – Growing in these ensures your strawberries are safe and far away from slugs, snails and other soil dwelling pests.
  4. Polythene & Woven Polypropylene Covers – These covers act as protection from insects and other pests and enable the strawberry plants to flourish. Be aware the woven cover will allow water to pass through; however, if using polythene, you will need to find an alternative method to keep the soil and plants watered.

About the Strawberry plant.

Fragaria × ananassa, commonly known as strawberry or garden strawberry, is a hybrid species that is cultivated worldwide for its fruit. The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. ~ Wikipedia

Credits: Title photograph courtesy of Glen Young