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Garden Pea

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      12.09.2013 13:13
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      Fun to grow, great for you and really tasty

      Peas taste so much different fresh from the pod, I've never matched it with peas bought from elsewhere. Great cooked or even better eaten straight from the pod or put in a salad.

      Peas are fairly straight forward to grow, after the frosts is a good time to start. They don't like very hot weather so anytime in Spring is perfect. There's a lot of advice out there that recommends sowing the peas straight into the ground as the roots don't like being disturbed. I grow my peas from seed on the window sill and haven't had a problem with transplanting them from pot to outside soil over the last three years. If you're concerned and want to grow them in pots to start with, you could always use a peat pot that will break down into the soil - avoiding any root disruption.

      Peas germinate reasonably quickly inside, you'll see the pea start to appear from 7 - 14 days, once they appear they'll start to grow reasonably fast. If they're indoors or in a greenhouse hardening them off by placing outdoors for a few hours then building up to full time will help the process of transplanting them go much smoother.

      Peas are a climbing plant, up to about knee level. You can use canes with pea netting over the top, either in a long line or wigwam shape. Even sticks in the ground with some tightly woven string around, just something they can put tendrils out to support them. I prefer the wigwam with netting just due to the space available in the garden. Pea netting can be bought very cheaply from garden centers, also in the various 99p/Pound stores. Canes also from garden centres, or you could use some long sticks.
      When they get started sometimes I find they need a little help finding the netting or string, just a little nudge towards it, pushing the tendrils through the netting usually helps.

      Peas can be susceptible to pests like mice and birds. You could use a little plant fleece to deter, we had problems with Thrushes pecking the leaves of the plants, to the point where they were struggling to survive one year. I placed carrier bags on poles around the area and this worked amazingly well. The plants recovered and produced a good crop despite the shaky start.

      Just before the plants produce pea pods, they product a large white flower, soon afterwards the pea pod will form. You'll be able to see the peas inside develop and you'll be able to feel when they are ready for picking.

      I try and get some more going around about 4 weeks apart over the Spring/Summer, even with one lot in July as the plants tend to product pods for around 4 weeks then die back, just to keep a supply going through the warmer months. The peas planted in July have just started to produce peas now.

      There are many different types of pea variety, including varieties of Mange Tout which are grown in exactly the same way.

      Peas are high in vitamin C, they lose a little of the vitamins when cooked, but to be honest most of ours don't make it to that stage and are eaten off the pods or in salads.

      At the end of the season it's worth keeping a pod or two back and letting them dry out, so you have peas that can be used for planting next year.

      Highly recommended, fun to grow and very tasty too.

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        30.08.2013 23:27
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        Peas, good for you and delicious

        The small green pea, full of vitamin c and fibre, delicious fresh or frozen.

        I have grown peas for the last few years, and I must confess that I don't actually know how delicious my peas are frozen as they have never made it that far, mine have always been eaten straight from the pod.

        If I'm honest these aren't really my favourite things to grow as I find them messy, but I grow them every year as both me and my husband love their taste. There are many different varieties of peas including ones which you eat whole, but I only grow the pea pod varieties.

        **Growing Peas**
        Pea plants are easy to grow, and can be sown inside or outside even in cooler climates. As a plant they prefer it to not be too hot.

        In the past I have usually used a mixture of both starting some inside, and transplanting them out when the frosts are gone, and filling any gaps by sowing the dried pea seeds directly outside, to be honest I seem to get the same amount of peas using either method.

        **This year**
        This year after realising it didn't seem to make a difference whether they were sown inside or outside, I decided to sow them directly outside around mid may. This was a bit later then in previous years due to the cold weather at the start of the year. I planted them in a raised bed, which was weed free and added fresh compost. I sowed them in straight lines about an inch down.

        They took about 2 weeks to start showing as seedlings, I've found you have to be careful that the seeds don't pop out of the ground as they swell, if they do I just gently cover them up again. After the seedlings were growing I replanted them in the pattern I wanted for the netting (not every pea took), and sowed more peas in the gaps. This year I actually sowed some as late as the end of July and they are just now starting to flower.

        Peas are climbers and I usually grow them up pea nets, which are supported with bamboo canes. This is the part I hate about growing peas as I always struggle to get the netting to attach to the bamboos and not fall down, there's probably a knack to it that I just don't have. This year I used the poles from my old blow away greenhouse instead of canes and I found it a bit easier as the poles are wider, and the plastic connectors are great for tying things to. I wait until the plants are about 5 to 6 inches before using netting.

        This is pretty much all there is to growing peas, the only other thing you need to do is water them if you get lots of dry weather, and wait for them to flower and produce delicious pea pods. I've been eating them since about the middle of July :) To eat you open the pod and eat the peas inside, I eat them fresh but they can also be cooked or frozen to eat later.

        **Any problems?**
        Like most plants peas can be attacked by pests, most noticeably mice or birds eating your newly sown seeds, you also have to watch out for mildew. Strangely I've never really had much of a problem with slugs eating them even last year when I think everything else in the garden was eating by them. I probably have lost some seeds to mice or birds, or at least I'm guessing that's where the plants that didn't grow went.

        **Thinking about peas**
        I love peas they are good for you, and eating fresh are sweet and lovely. Home grown are definitely the best as the fresher they are the sweeter they are, I think everyone should grow some :)

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          29.04.2012 20:11
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          Very tasty easy to grow plants

          INTRODUCTION
           
          Growing food and cooking from scratch go hand in hand in my opinion.  "Growing your own" doesn't have to be tricky or require acres of space - garden peas mainly grow upwards, and a row of them can be quite closely packed together, so as long as you have height you don't need half an acre of grounds and a private gardener called Fred to produce a decent sized crop of peas.
           
          BACKGROUND
           
          Peas are known to have existed about 7000 years ago in the middle and near east, although now they mainly prefer cooler climates - the UK is ideal for growing peas.  There are a lot of pea varieties now that won't produce any more pods once the temperature gets into the 20s, so overcast cool summers (ie the UK!) are the best for growing peas.  It's supposed to be lucky if you find a pea pod with only one pea in it, although I'd be quite miffed if this happened to me!
           
          Peas eaten fresh from the pod taste nothing like the peas we buy frozen at a supermarket - try it, you'll find the difference is unbelievable.
           
          GROWING YOUR OWN
           
          As pea plants produce their own nitrogen (which they get from the air and store in their roots - I'll explain this nitrogen storage below), it's not a good idea to add loads of nitrogen rich organic material to the soil where you intend to grow them as this will just produce lots of leafy growth and not many flowers (these subsequently turn into pods).  I add a sprinkling of bonemeal to where my pea plants are going to grow - this will help the root growth and also the production of seeds - effectively the peas themselves..  
           
          Peas don't like having their roots disturbed, so I wait until the end of March then just plant the seeds directly outside into the soil.  I've never had a problem doing it this way, even through frosts.  If you want to start earlier, you can put the seeds into peat pots indoors - the peat pots will rot once placed into the soil so there won't be any root disturbance as you're not pricking out the plants from plastic pots.  They also like moist soil, so it's a good idea not plant them next to a wall or fence as these can suck the moisture out of your soil - as tempting as they are to use as a support for your climbing pea plants!
           
          They will tolerate some shade, so use this to your advantage and don't let them stand in a fully sunny position as the increase in temperature will put them off producing pods (as mentioned above).
           
          Give your peas something to climb up - I use netting but you can cobble something together using anything really from chicken wire to twigs.  Having something to wrap their tendrils around as they grow will reduce the likelihood of the wind snapping your growing plants.  They are relatively quick growers - you should be able to start picking pods after about 3 months.  
           
          Once the pods start coming through, keep picking them often as this will encourage the plant to produce more.
           
          Popular garden pea varieties include Kelvedon Wonder and Douce Provence.  The seeds are cheap and easy enough to find in shops - shop around though as there can be a big price difference in the varieties, mainly depending on the seed manufacturer.  Alternatively, you can dry and keep peas from last year's crop and replant these - once you've bought your initial seeds then you have the means to continually replenish your seed stock year after year for free!
           
          PESTS AND DISEASES
           
          Peas aren't a massive magnet for many of these, but ones to watch out for include mice (these pesky little furry things absolutely love eating pea seeds and will dig them out of the soil) and pea moths.  Pea moths lay their eggs on the plants which then hatch and a little caterpillar will eat into a pod and eat the peas inside.  Covering your plants with a light fleece will prevent the moths from having access to your plants.
           
          USING GARDEN PEAS
           
          The roots produce little "nodules" that have a store of nitrogen in them, so when your plants have all been picked clean, cut the plant off at soil level and leave the roots in.  The nitrogen in the root nodules will slowly release itself into the soil and is great for leafy crops like lettuce, spinach etc.
           
          If you have an abundance of pea plants and couldn't possibly eat all the peas, cut the top 4 or 6 leaves off and use them as a salad veg - they're great and really taste of fresh peas.  
           
          The peas themselves contain natural sugars which make a freshly picked pea taste delicious - these sugars will turn into starch after a few hours so either eat the peas quickly or preserve them sharpish to keep those sugars in.  Home grown peas freeze very well - what I do is to shell them all from the pods, dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds then freeze them straight away.
           
          Peas can also be dried and stored in a glass jar to be added to soups and stews.  The best and easiest method for this is to just leave some pods on the plant until they are a light brown colour, completely dry and withered.  I must admit though, I've found it hard to rely on having a dry enough spell in our summertime's to allow this happen outside, so I snip the pods off and allow them to dry inside on the kitchen windowsill instead.
           
          Peas are a good source of carbohydrate, protein and vitamin C.  They also contain plenty of other vitamins and minerals, including Thiamine (or vitamin B1) which is found in pork, but obviously vegetarians wouldn't eat this so it's a good "veggie" source.  Most of the vitamins and minerals that peas contain can easily be destroyed by overcooking, so the best way to ensure you get the maximum benefit is to eat them fresh from the pod.
           
          SUMMARY
           
          A very cost effective plant to grow in terms of how many peas you will get from one planted seed, I'd recommend anyone to grow peas that enjoys the taste of freshly picked food over shop bought stuff.  In terms of easiness to grow, taste, nutritional value, lack of diseases and care requirements, I give garden peas the full five stars.  Thanks for reading.

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            19.11.2011 13:59

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            There's nothing better than eating a home grown raw pea straight off the plant!

            Pea plants come in so many different varieties, and are so easy to grow from seed. With many other plants its easiest to start them off inside and then plant them out. In March time fill a 9cm pot with soil and plant two seeds per pot about 1.5cm deep. As soon as they are about 10cm high (mid April time) plant the outise at the base of canes. I normally make wig wams out of about 7-8, 2m high canes. They will need tying onto the canes, but will be able to latch onto each other for extra support. Pea pods should be ready for harvest from July onwards. Continuous cropping will encourage more pea pods to develop. Nitrogen fixing bacteria on the roots of pea plants really help to improve the soil, and so are perfect for planting int borders that are bit low on nutrients. They can also be planted in large pots.
            HINT: to avoid those pesky snails, scatter a mixture of slug pellets and chicken grit in a large circle all around your wig wam!

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            04.08.2009 18:02
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            Peas: one of the easiest vegetable plants to grow in your garden.

            I have been growing my own peas for about 30 years, originally because I accidentally destroyed my then three year old daughter's sunflower and I remembered from my own childhood how quickly peas grow. It seemed a fair replacement. She took such an interest that it rubbed off on me and eventually I went from just growing a few for fun to really nurturing the plants and helping to feed the family with these wonderfully sweet and natural peas.

            It really is very easy to get a crop of peas, takes very little effort and is rather fun. Seeds are available from garden centres and supermarkets, or have a look on Ebay as I recently paid just £1.79 for 200 seeds. I wouldn't recommend any of the pea seeds Poundland are currently stocking however as from previous experience of this little known brand I can tell you the peas will be small and rather woody tasting.

            For the last two years I have been using Kelvedon Wonder as they produce lots of good sized pods and can be harvested from as early as June with the same set of plants continuing to crop (albeit more sporadically) through to September. Through trial and error I have worked out how to plant this particular variety in rotation and this year have had fresh peas since the end of June, with more flowering and podding each week.

            You can plant your pea seeds directly into well prepared soil, preferably with some manure or compost bin compost dug through a couple of months before sowing. Personally I prefer to start them off in peat pots or seed trays and transplant them into their growing positions once the seedlings are three or four inches high. I find this gives a much more consistent result when the plants really start growing. I do recommend peat pots despite the initial expense of around £3 per 24 pots, you can buy them cheaper but do remember that peas have particularly long and fragile roots so you ideally need to buy peat pots that have a little extra depth than the standard size. Using peat pots means you don't have to handle the roots of the pea seedlings when you are transplanting them; you simply dig a hole and plant the pot, as it's made of peat it will rot down in the damp soil and save your delicate seedlings unnecessary stress.

            The main advice I can give you for when you come to choose your pea seeds is to read the packet. It will tell you the recommended sowing times, whether the specific variety needs any special care, the crop you can expect and the final height of the plant. This is more important than you may think as some modern varieties can grown to 6ft tall and this will naturally put much of your garden in shade, peas grow to full height relatively quickly so if you opt for a particularly tall variety then you'll need to be careful what you grow nearby as tall pea plants cast very heavy shadows and can stunt the growth of sunlight loving plants.

            While I have come to love Kelvedon Wonder, one area of my garden is set aside for Ambassador peas. The reasoning behind this is that although peas will grow in most soils, they don't take too well to a clay consistency. However, I discovered some years ago that Ambassador Garden Pea seeds seem to flourish in the heavy clay soil (mud, to all intents and purposes) that lies at the back of my shed. This is a large strip of land which catches the sun beautifully, the soil is just appalling. These conditions seem to suit Ambassador peas wonderfully and although the peas aren't as flavoursome and sweet as other varieties, they are deliciously fresh and are ready for picking in just a few weeks.

            You have to play it by ear when it comes to watering and feeding. Peas can tolerate a lot of watering when planted into the open ground, but do take care not to waterlog them while in pots or tray and ensure any pot has plenty of drainage. The type of soil in your garden will obviously greatly affect how frequently you need to water or feed your pea plants. I rarely feed them unless they are looking as though they need a little something and usually just sprinkle the odd supplement of compost bin compost around the growing plants from time to time.

            When deciding where you are going to plant your seedlings you'll need to remember that eventually your pea plants are going to need some support. My Kelvedon Wonder peas only grow to around 2ft in height so normal garden canes are fine, I prefer to use the thicker unpainted bamboo canes which I arrange in a trellis effect around the seedlings. This allows the pea to move more freely as it grows and it becomes quickly accustomed to clinging to it's supporting cane. The best way I find is to check how tall the packet says your plants will end up and put supports in at half this height, replacing them with taller canes as needed. This is for purely aesthetic reasons as I hate the sight of canes that are ridiculously long for it's plant!

            The majority of pea varieties are best picked while still small and immature as this will provide a fresher, sweeter flavour both when cooked and raw. The problem I find is forcing myself to stop eating them as they are shelling the peas and I have been known to end up with just two solitary portions of peas for a dinner from a quarter of my crop! Good peas can be eaten (nay, are BEST eaten) straight from their pods while watching television - and they honestly do taste better than fat and sugar laden munchies, although you probably won't believe that!

            If you happen to get a glut of peas they do freeze exceedingly well. Blanch and cool them as quickly after picking as possible; to do this place the peas into vigorously boiling water and allow to boil for 1 ½ minutes., quickly drain and plunge into a bowl of iced water. Drain again, divide into portion sized airtight containers and freeze. The whole process takes less than ten minutes and the peas can then be cooked from frozen or allowed to defrost, they lose very little of their natural flavour and are surely better than frozen peas that (however good they taste) have been transported for miles before ending up in your freezer.

            In all honesty you probably will only get a glut if you don't rotate your planting. Peas will freeze for successfully for some time. Forget all that one month nonsense, I often use my own grown peas on Christmas dinner that were harvested as early as September. By rotating your plantings you will eventually be able to obtain ongoing peas for your daily use as well as the odd couple of handfuls to freeze. Unless you have a huge garden that you are prepared to dedicate purely to peas then you are unlikely to become self sufficient with the vegetable, especially if you eat them most days as I do. The pods may look huge but you do need lots and lots of those pods for an average family dinner, I don't want to give my entire growing space up to peas as I have a few vegetables which I no longer need to buy from the supermarket now and to give them up would be a fools errand considering I'll never catch up with my own pea consumption!

            They're fun to grow though and sometimes I do think that is the main thing. It's a relatively cheap vegetable to grow with initial costs for a decent sized crop being starting at less than £5 as seeds are reasonably priced and basic seed trays are available throughout the summer in Poundland. Of course costs rise depending on how much you are prepared to spend, the only 'luxury' buy I'd recommend is the peat pots and everything else feel free to buy from Pound land - including compost at the moment as I noticed yesterday.

            A pea plant is ideal for children to grow as seedlings start to poke through quickly after planting and most varieties grow very quickly initially. They also need watering regularly if in trays so youngsters can really get involved in the care of their plant. My granddaughter is currently growing nine pea plants spread out over three deep troughs, they are just beginning to pod and it looks like she is going to get a very healthy return for her efforts. Hers is the Misty variety which I've never come across before but is very attractive to look at and seems to be producing long thick pods. This just goes to show that anyone can grow peas, even if you don't have available space for a vegetable patch you can pot some up in troughs or any deep container and watch them flourish.

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              21.04.2004 17:27
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              In my view there is nothing to beat fresh veggies picked straight from the plant at the time you prepare your meal, then cooked and eaten within an hour or so. This way nothing is lost either in goodness or in taste, frozen veg no matter how expertly frozen can never match the taste or quality of freshly grown and harvested. This in my mind makes the small amount of work involved well worth the effort. One of my favourites for my small garden is the humble pea, useful in so many meals from the tasty stir fry to the glorious Sunday roast. The garden pea has been a favourite for centuries and has a good food value, among other things it contains vitamins A, B and C also calcium and iron in small quantities. The most popular type for growing is ?early onward? these are the ones I grow in my garden. Peas are very easy to grow and can be sown from early March though until mid June in well cultivated soil, they grow best in a nice sunny position and will need to be supported with either canes, a net or such. As they grow the plants will shoot out little grabbers to cling to their support, you will need to help these little grabbers get a hold of their support to begin with. I find it best to sow a few at a time at two weekly intervals throughout the season so that way you get a good full crop over the summer months. They work well being sown straight into the soil but can be started off in small pots or seed trays either in the greenhouse or on a window sill. If you do plant them out, they will need to be planted 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart, you must also leave approximately 24 inches between the rows and must be watered in as soon as you?ve finished planting. There are a few common ailments that can affect the plants, I have only found two which have been a bother to me in all the years I have been growing them, the first is white pow
              dery patches that can appear on the pods and the leaves which looks like and is a form of mildew. This happens in very sheltered gardens like mine but can be avoided by being sure your plants are well watered and if you do see any signs of this a little spray with Benlate (available from any garden centre) and repeated fortnightly should solve the problem. My second and biggest pest is my son Adam who has a liking for eating them straight from the pod with out cooking, as soon as the pods are of a descent size, he can be found sitting in the garden looking very guilty with a bundle of empty pods at his feet, I have tried many things to combat this pest but nothing seems to work, even my local garden centre could not help. Once your Peas are grown sometimes it can hard to know exactly when they are ready to be picked as the pods often swell before the peas inside do, I find the best way to tell is by gently tapping the pods, if they rattle then the peas inside are not big enough. Once the peas become big enough to pick it is in your best interest to pick regularly as the more you pick the more will grow, this is Adams favourite excuse. Growing peas is something I do every year, I find the benefit makes all the work worth it even if is just to see Adam busy enjoying his self out in the fresh air (as long as he leaves some for me of course). Peas freeze very well and are in fact the only frozen veg I like but you just can?t beat that straight from the plant and into the pot flavour. I do hope those of you with a garden will try growing your own, thanks for reading. Kim.

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                27.03.2002 16:57
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                I tried to resist the pun, really I did..... I'm stil fairly new to gardening, but am elarning on my feet. The first eyar I tried to grow peas, I got about three, the slugs got the rest - largely by dint of eating the pea plants as soon as they poked their heads out of the soil. I have learned to be more cunning. Why grow peas? Well for a start, fresh peas are infinitely better than frozen ones and there's soemthing very satisfying about havign fresh produce from your own gaden. Secondly, epas will improve your soil - msot plants take nitrogen out of the soil, peas will put it back in, effectively making it more fertile. They look quite good too - you can use the greenery to make backdrops for other plants if you want, and they do add a bit of hight to the garden. What do you do? Well, peas can be bought from any decent garden centre, B&Q or the like. Expect to spend between one and two pounds for a packet. Peas don't keep well, so try to sue the whole packet in the first year - second year round far fewer will germinate. In the packet you get a load of dried peas. Now at this point you can jsut stick them in the ground in rows and elave them to take their chances or you can be more cunning. The cunning plan. Peas have a relatively short season, but you cane xtend this a bit by bringing some on early and planting more pea palnts later in the year. Rather than jsut dumping your poor unsuspecting peas in a hoel in the garden, get some nice seed trays - deep is best, and start them out in that. You can plent them an inch or so appart for this. Use compost. If you have a greenhouse or conservatory, you can out the tray in there, if you don't, you can start them off in the house - on a sunny window, in your spare room or whatever. Water regularly. After a week or two, little pea plants will start showing their heads. When they get to be a couple of inches tall, plant them into larger pots with more space for
                roots - two or three in a pot to give them plenty of room. Keep watering. Somewhere around the six inch tall mark, they will start leaning, at this point they need something to climb up and you have to plant them out. At this point, youc an start off a new batch in your trays. A six inch high pea plant stands a better chance of surviving slugs etc than does a tiny one. Peas will climb anything - bamboo with string is traditional, trellis will do, be aware that they might end up taller than you - allow at least four feet, read the back of your package to see if you've got something taller. To discourage slugs, put broken eggshell or ash round the bottoms of the plants - won't upset the plants, will put the slugs off. Water them if there is a drought. You might want to cover them with mesh to keep the birds off. Peas like to have soemthing to work on in the soil - for best effects, give them some manure to be going along with. Harvest when the pods look full and fat. try not to eat too many of them raw! If you have mint growing in the garden, boiling the peas with a bnit of mint is really nice. Peas do take a fair bit of work, and you may well find that your effort has gone to making the slugs fatter and little else. However, when it works, it really is very satisfying. I'd recomend giving it a try, and don't give up if your first crop fails entirely - it happens.

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                  08.08.2001 04:12
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                  • "directly in soil"

                  Isn't it wonderful this time of year to taste freshly podded peas, straight from the plant, or lightly steamed mange tout with a swirl of butter. Yes I know that we can trolley down to the grocers or supermarket to buy a pack of commercially grown pea pods, but there is nothing so tasty as a few Kelvedon Wonder peas, grown on a pot. I bought mine from Lidl in April, sowed a dozen peas 2 inches (5cms) deep in 10 inch (25cm) pots in compost the same day, added a pinch of Growmore fertiliser to each pot, watered them and put them in a cold greenhouse. When the first shoots came up a week later, I put six 90cm canes around the inner edge of the pot and tied them at the top with elastic bands. This gave the peas something to climb up with their fine tendrils. You could grow them like this in a conservatory or near a patio window and they wil grow easily in window boxes. I've found that they don't get nibbled as much by pests when grown in a pot, and you can always move them outdoors from June onwards. If you plant up a new pot every couple of weeks you will be able to grow crops right across the summer. The pods can be picked when quite young and used as mange tout, or left to swell with juicy peas to enjoy at your leisure. The used compost is very good for growing potatoes (2 shooting potatoes per pot) from September up to Christmas when you can enjoy a nice little crop of fresh spuds with your main course!

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                    28.07.2001 01:43
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                    Well, it’s been a long time. I can’t believe I last wrote an op on 31st May. But I'm still here. I haven't gone to the great compost heap in the sky. Nor, indeed to the great garden bonfire tended by auldmac - sorry, Auld Nick. Time flies in the high-tech, state-of-the-art world of horticulture. (Digging and mowing, OK?) And the biggest problem I’ve had with this one, is – a plethora of potential pea puns for a title. On the strength of which, I nearly called it “Alliteration”. Although obviously, onomato–pea–eia would have been smarter, if I could have worked it out with a pencil. Or is that a different old joke altogether? Enough. Please join me in being serious, briefly. GENERAL CULTIVATION In even the smallest vegetable plot, it is wise to practice crop rotation. This avoids the build-up of pests and diseases, and contributes greatly to soil fertility. Peas have a very important role to play in crop rotation, as they, along with all the members of the bean family (excluding the Rowan . . . sorry, no more Mr Bean jokes), are legumes. Legumes are nitrogen-fixers. Which is to say that, while most crops, particularly leafy crops like brassicas (cabbages, etc), take vast quantities of nitrogen from the soil, legumes actually manufacture nitrogen and put it back. Ergo, in crop rotation, plant your cabbages this year, where your peas and beans were last year. Simple. Opinions vary, as always in horticulture where everyone’s an expert! But I find my peas do best in a heavily manured soil. And I mean, manure. Not nice, clean, off-the-shelf-in-plastic-bags artificial fertiliser. Real manure, from real farm-yard animals. Lovely stuff. It has to be mature, though. It must pass the finger test. Pick it up, crumble it in your hand, and it should trickle nicely through your fingers. If it’s a gooey mess, and takes three hours to
                    wash off, it’s not ready, and you’ve probably contracted some unmentionable disease. Dig some of the good stuff in in the Autumn. The winter frosts will help to break it down. SOWING Basically, there are two approaches. And I would advise you to do both. 1. Sow seed in individual cells under glass (greenhouse, conservatory, windowsill). Deep cells are essential, as peas are deep-rooting. Buy sweet-pea cells or root-trainers. But – now, listen – the DIY option is to save the inner cardboard bits from your toilet rolls. Set them on end (obviously) in a seed tray, fill them with compost, and sow two peas in each. Yes, two, so that you can nip out the weaker of the pair, or at least you’ll have one, if only fifty per cent germinate. There’s nothing more disheartening than a lovingly-filled bog-roll full of compost, and nothing growing in it! Grow on, harden off, plant out. 2. Sow directly outdoors, by taking out a drill approximately one inch deep by six to eight inches wide (or 1” x 6 – 8”, if you insist on going metric). Sow your peas in a staggered row, 2 – 3" apart. But be prepared. Plan this the night before, and give them an overnight soak in water. Speeds up germination no end! GROWING Even dwarf varieties need support. The traditional method is twiggy sticks. Of which more in a mo. But you can use garden canes and a tangle of string. Or chicken wire. Or you can go berserk and buy plastic pea support from the Garden Centre. Which you can only use for one year. ‘Cos the peas get so entwined, there’s no way you can clean it up and use it again next year. So you end up burning the lot in the autumn. And buy more next year. And the Garden Centres just love you! But if you have willow or dogwood in your garden, cut some small branches from these and use as pea supports. And by the end of the seaso
                    n, most will have rooted. So not only do you have free pea support, you have free plants as well. (That’s the Aberdonian kicking in again.) VARIETIES Early peas can be sown successionally, ie a little at a time at 3 or 4 week intervals. Good varieties to try are Kelvedon Wonder, Eary Onward, or Feltham First. Main crop varieties take longer to mature, and are best sown in bulk, then picked for the freezer. My maincrop favourites are Hurst Green Shaft, Onward, or Senator. Or try sugar snap peas – the cultivation is exactly the same. BUT HAVE YOU TRIED? Growing peas up the same trellis as your sweet peas, or your honeysuckle, or your clematis? They don’t have to be in the vegetable garden. Growing peas on the patio? Try some of the dwarf varieties in a big pot, and grow them up a bamboo cane wigwam. ARE YOU TOO LATE? No. There is still time to sow an early variety (they mature faster), to give you a young, succulent crop in the autumn. Successional sowing – that’s the secret to a long cropping period. So there you have it. A serious opinion on peas from Aspen. With not a urine-related pun in sight. But I couldn’t resist this PS. P(ea) S. Hurst Green Shaft gazed longingly into the eyes of Kelvedon Wonder. ”Your pods are so long and sensuous,” he breathed. “Let us ( lettuce(!) ) entwine our tendrils, and cross pollinate for ever and ever.” - Mushy Peas!

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