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Why Grow It

Peas produce a small yield from the space they occupy – so why grow them? Well, they are almost never available in the shops fresh, always frozen. As soon as a pea is picked from the plant the sugars inside it start to turn to starch, which means the flavour starts to deteriorate immediately. So, peas that are cooked immediately after picking will always taste nicer than the frozen alternative.

Peas are also a fantastic veg to grow with kids, as it gives them the chance to eat peas raw – which, in our experience, they absolutely love.

  • Peas will grow in most reasonable soil. They don’t require any nitrogen fertiliser, as they take in nitrogen from the air via bacteria in their roots. If adding a general fertiliser use one that is low in nitrogen.
  • Peas are usually sown direct into the soil, but can be transplanted from modules. If sowing in modules sow 1-3 seeds per module.
  • Seeds can be sown from March and can continue until mid-June. Earlier sowings usually give the best yields, but sowing in May/June can be useful if you want an early autumn crop.
  • Pea varieties vary widely in their growth height. Tall varieties can grow 1.5-2m high, with dwarf varieties growing up to 1m or less.
  • Tall varieties are best grown in rows 1m or more apart and supported with netting or sticks.
  • Dwarf varieties are usually grown in blocks allowing 25cm between rows, with a simple support around the edge of the bed.
  • Sow seeds 3–5cm apart at 2cm depth. Ensure the seed is in moist soil in order to absorb sufficient water for germination.
  • If you have sown in modules they are ready to transplant when they are around 10cm high. Follow the same spacing as mentioned above depending on varieties.
  • To ensure a good yield make sure the soil doesn’t dry out when the plants are flowering.
  • Peas need support. An effective support is to run lengths of chicken wire between posts with rows of peas on either side. You can also use “peasticks” (small branches of any hedgerow tree)
  • When to harvest peas depends on the type you are growing – mangetout are harvested before the peas have properly formed; for podding peas harvest whilst they are still immature and sweet (and use immediately, as the sugar turns swiftly to starch).
  • Keep harvesting your peas to ensure more pods set.
  • Delikett (Sugar Snap)
  • Greenshaft (Garden)
  • Garnet or Sweet Horizon (Mangetout)
  • Pea seeds can be eaten by mice in the soil. Covering them in something unpleasant like dried seaweed can discourage them.
  • Emerging seedlings can be eaten by pigeons or crows so netting may be needed. Use either a small meshed insect mesh or support the bird netting above the plants, as the peas can attach themselves to the net and you risk pulling the plants up when you remove the net.
  • Slugs can also attack the young plants, so keep the area clean, and trap or use a less toxic slug bait, such as iron phosphate.
  • Peas can be sown effectively in lengths of old rain-guttering. Fill the gutter with potting compost and sow seeds 5cm apart. When the seedlings are 8cm tall dig a trench in the soil about the same depth as the compost in the gutter and simply slide out the contents of the gutter in to the trench.
  • Many GIYers grow peas just to eat the growing tips of the young plants, which are a tasty delicacy and look great in salads.