Peas are a popular plant in the home garden. They are a cool season crop so can be sown in early winter. There are many varieties that are delicious and easy to grow and are much cheaper than buying not-so-fresh peas in the supermarket. Freshly picked peas are simply wonderful, tender and sweet.
Peas belong to the Legume family. Legumes can absorb nitrogen from the air and use it as a nutrient. They are able to grow in nitrogen poor soil and deposit nitrogen back into the soil, actually improving the soil while they grow!
- Some have edible pods such as Sugar Snap and Snow peas that are great for stir fries.
- Others such as English or garden peas are used for their round fleshy seeds.
- Climbing varieties produce an abundance of peas in a small space. There are also dwarf varieties of peas which can be grown in pots
How to Plant Peas
- Prepare the beds in autumn/fall about 5 weeks before you start planting. Dig in lots of compost and well-rotted animal manure and leave it to settle.
- Peas can cope with light frosts but in colder areas try to delay planting so the heavy frosts are over when the flowers start to appear.
- If drainage is poor, mound the soil.
- Sow pea seeds straight into the ground, 2-3 cm deep and 5 cm apart. Rows should be 40cm apart.
- Climbers will need a trellis about one and half meters high. Chicken wire makes a good trellis.
- After sowing, sprinkle some dolomite lime around the rows. When the plants appear, it is a good idea to mulch them and sprinkle some blood and bone. Avoid nitrogen rich fertilizer.
Watch out for birds eating your young pea seedlings
Take care not to over water as powdery mildew can be a problem. Try to water around the plant, not on the foliage. Using mulch around the plants will keep water levels more even.
Harvest the pods every 2-3 days as this encourages the plants to continue producing.
Generally we dig the plants up while they are still a little green, crop them up with the spade and then dig them back into the soil. Or put them in the compost bin