Fresh Peas how to grow, care for and harvest
Where to grow Peas
Grow peas in fertile moisture retentive soil. Dig to a good depth in the Autumn and incorporate plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost. Avoid areas that may become waterlogged – the plants will rot at the base if too wet. As with most crops, peas do best in a sunny open spot, but they will tolerate light shade.
How to Sow Peas in Autumn & Winter
Varieties such as ‘Fetham First’, categorised as first earlies, are smooth skinned, while second earlies and main crop, such as ‘Onward’ and ‘Alderman’ have wrinkled skin.
First earlies can be sown outside in mid to late Autumn and overwintered under cloches to protect against frost. Peas do really well when started in Rootrainers before being transplanted outside. This gives them a super strong root system which allows the plants to produce a bigger crop of delicious peas.
How to Sow Peas in Spring & Summer
Sow main crop varieties in your Rootrainers or directly outside at regular intervals from early Spring to mid Summer. They will not need protection unless there is a period of prolonged frost. Sow double rows in flat bottomed trenches 23 cm wide and 5 cm deep with 50cm between trenches. Or for a 'no dig' solution use a planter specifically designed for peas - the Haxnicks Pea & Bean Planter. These planters are reinforced with rigid tubes and have 6 cane pockets to hold canes in place without disturbing the soil. They are ideal for those without space in their garden who still want to grow their own veg..
Top tip: If you want to grow peas such as marrowfats, then the dried peas sold for cooking will normally grow well and you'll find then cheaper than buying a packet of pea seeds. Just soak them in water for 24 hours and then plant.
Can peas be grown in containers?
Vegetable Patio Garden Planters are the perfect way to grow peas especially if you only have a small space, patio, or balcony. The beauty of container gardening is that you can move your planter around so that it always remains in full sunlight.They are also good for anyone short of space or for one more crop just outside your back door if your plot is full! Haxnicks vegetable patio planters are made of a tough polythene with handles on each side which makes them super easy to move around. They also have drainage which is a must for growing peas successfully.
Pea Growing and Aftercare
Immediately after sowing protect the crop from birds by covering with wire netting or twiggy branches over canes or using the Haxnicks Birdscare.
Provide support using pea sticks or netting when the crop reaches around 8cm high. For tall varieties place the supports on either side of the growing stems. Water regularly during dry spells especially when the plants are in flower. Mulching with garden compost will help with moisture retention.
How to Store and Harvest Peas
Harvest when the pods are plump but not fully grown, picking from the bottom of the plant and working your way up. Keep picking to encourage production of more pods. If you are growing Mange Tout or Sugar Snap Pea varieties pick on the early side to ensure the pods have not become tough.
Peas are best eaten straight away, but will also freeze well in container or can be left to dry in their pods – wait until you can hear them rattle – and stored in an airtight container to use in stews or soups.
Pea Growing and Pest and Diseases
Peas are prone to a number of pests and diseases. Pigeons and small birds can devastate young crops – Micromesh netting is the best protection. Mildew can also be a problem. Pea and Bean weevil can cause stunting of plant growth. The crop may come under attack from Pea Thrips too in hot sunny weather. Silvery patches are seen on the pods and leaves which will affect the yield. Pea moth can also be a problem. The adults lay their eggs when the peas are in flower – sow early or late to avoid the moth’s flying period.
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