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Peaing in the garden
Member Name: Bryn Pearson
Date: 27/03/02, updated on 27/03/02 (297 review reads)
Advantages: fresh peas
Disadvantages: quite a bit of work
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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