Archives For growing peas from seed

Peas, the gorgeous, green, garden vegetable are very popular in the UK, on average each person in the UK eats 9,000 peas a year. That’s certainly a lot of pea pods! The Latin name is Pisum sativum and they are thought to have come from Middle Asia, central Ethiopia and the Mediterranean. They are one the worlds oldest cultivated crops. Modern varieties trace back to the first sweet tasting pea developed by Thomas Edward Knight, an amateur gardener, in the 18th century. The United Kingdom is the largest pea producer in Europe, growing over 160,000 tonnes of them. Peas were one of the first vegetables frozen by Clarence Birdeye, using his revolutionary freezing process.

Pea pods are technically fruit as they contain seeds from the plant, however in cooking they are considered to be vegetables. There are three main varieties; snow (also known as Mangetout), sugar-snap (also known as simply the ‘snap pea’) and the shelling pea. There are several different mature sizes of peas, dwarf (2 inches or less), semi-dwarf (2-4 inches) and tall (around five inches tall). Snow and sugar-snap look fairly similar although sugar-snaps are plumper. The shelling pea can also be called the garden or English pea and needs to be eaten fresh and immature to gain the best flavour.

The pea is actually yellow when fully matured, the reason they are green is because we eat immature pea pods for a sweeter flavour. When the pea is picked freshly from the plant it is best cooked quickly with very little water to preserve it’s wonderful taste. There are many excellent pea recipes including the classic pea soup, as well as pea risotto or the pea as a side dish. The main ways of storing the pea is freezing or drying.

Location & Timing

Growing a pea is easiest in a sunny location with moist soil. These growing conditions can be achieved using compost or rotting manure. Peas can be sown from February to July and harvested from June to October. The most hardy seeds are round seeds which are suitable for early sowing around February time. Wrinkled ones tend to taste sweeter and are best sown in summer. Growing pea seeds is relatively easy.

How to Grow Peas

Equipment

Method

  1. Plant the pea seed indoors in an individual pot or alternatively you could use a root trainer or a seedling tray. The seed needs to be watered frequently while indoors to keep the soil moist enough for it to grow in.
  2. Once the seed is roughly 6 inches tall, it is ready to be planted outside.
  3. Carefully remove the pea seedling without disturbing the roots and plant the seedling and compost into the ground roughly 4 to 6 inches apart.
  4. Twine the pea carefully around twigs/doweling/bamboo to help them grow. You might need to (loosely, so you don’t damage the plant) tie the seedlings to the twig to help them stay, string and gardeners wire are common choices to do this.
  5. The seedling needs to be watered to make sure the soil is damp enough, but be careful not to over water.

Growing Tips

  • Grow the seed indoors to begin with; mice, slugs and snails love to eat seeds if they get the chance (but be sure to protect them from household pets too!).
  • If you have acidic soil, apply lime or dolomite to it to help the pea seed grow.
  • Protect pea seeds with netting, they are very vulnerable to bird attacks.
  • Water the seed regularly, especially during dry spells.

Harvesting Tips

  • Snow and suger snap peas should be picked when the pods are around 3 inches long.
  • Peas need to be picked regularly otherwise new pods and flowers stop growing.
  • Pea pods should be harvested when they seem well filled to gain the best flavour.
  • Be careful when picking the pods, pea stems snap easily!

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