Newest Review: ... to grow - this will help the root growth and also the production of seeds - effectively the peas themselves.. Peas don't like having th... more
Peas be with you
Member Name: Stewwydablue
Advantages: Very easy to grow
Disadvantages: You might be tempted to eat them all before they get to the kitchen!
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.
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.
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.
Summary: Very tasty easy to grow plants