Why grow peas?
Peas are such fun to grow - especially for children - and in 6-11 weeks you can experience the utter joy of wandering around your garden, munching on these sweet, juicy beauties straight from the plant. Easy to grow from seed, and perfect to get the kids involved with, peas have nice big seeds which just need to be pushed straight into the ground and covered. The beauty of sowing peas is that you can use the dried foliage for your own pea straw as a summer mulch, once they've grown.
Which variety should I choose?
First consider what type of peas you like best and how tall you want them to grow. I have two favourites; an heirloom variety or open pollinated sugar snap pea, which is a guaranteed success! These grow about 60cm high (considered dwarf peas) and can be eaten at any stage, including the pods when they are young. Another one of my favourites is snow peas or 'mangetout', which are a delight added to a salad. These flat peas are also dwarf (60cm) and are prolific producers.
Where should I grow peas?
Peas will need a support to climb up, and you can use a piece of chicken wire, fibrous string or rough sticks from your garden. As the peas grow, they throw out tendrils that like to grab hold of a support, and wind themselves up. When fully grown and laden with peas, they become quite heavy. If you are in a windy area, you can hold them in place better with stretchy string attached horizontally over the front of the plant and tied to the support.
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When and how do I grow peas?
Peas prefer to be grown in the cooler weather, before the hot summer sun hits and require a good amount of water to sustain them. Press the seeds into the soil and cover, being aware that slugs and snails love these tender shoots when they first appear. A good tip here is to snap your lower cabbage or broccoli leaves off and put them either side of your sowing area. I find that the snails or slugs will eat these as opposed to your new pea shoots, giving them a chance to get established. If you start now, you can get a good couple of sowings in before the weather starts to warm up.
Top tips for success with growing peas
- Keep your soil moist, especially until germination, and then again when the pods start to form.
- If you like to grow sweet peas for their heavenly scent, they can be sown in exactly the same way, but will grow twice as high, so the support frame will need to be higher.
- Peas are a legume, so will fix their own nitrogen to the soil, making it available for the plants you sow after your peas.
Find out more about Claire Mummery's Grow Inspired Academy at growinspiredacademy.com or follow her on Facebook @growinspiredwithclairemummery or Instagram @grow.inspired.