Grow Your Own

Peas

There’s nothing like the flavour of freshly picked peas. Use them as quickly as possible once picked as they lose their sweetness. Dwarf varieties of peas don’t need much in the way of support. The easiest types to grow are mange tout and sugar snap varieties.

Peas

Grow

Peas are grouped by harvesting time and the shape of the seeds; round peas tend to be hardier than wrinkled varieties.

Water well when the flowering begins and two weeks after. Add a mulch around the base of plants to preserve soil moisture.

Apart from dwarf cultivars, you will need to provide some support for the plants to scramble up. One of the easiest way of supporting taller varieties is adding trellis, bamboo canes and netting. Dwarf varieties can be supported with pea netting or pea sticks (twiggy branches).

After flowering, plants need sufficient water for the pods to swell properly. Check the soil moisture at root level to find out if the plants are getting enough water. Apply a thick mulch after watering to lock moisture into the ground.

Problems

Powdery Mildew: Appears as a white powdery deposit over the leaf surface and leaves become stunted and shrivel.

Remedy: Keep the soil moist, grow in cool locations, and spray using plant and fish oils or sulphur-based controls.

More info on Powdery Mildew

Mice: These rodents will eat the seeds of sweetcorns when planted

Remedy: Place traps around the area where sweetcorn seeds are sown.

Pea moth: This is the caterpillar that you find when shelling your peas. Female moths lay their eggs on peas that are in flower.

Remedy: Early or late peas, flowering outside their flying period, are undamaged, which means March and June sowings. Synthetic pyrethroid insecticides applied a week after the onset of flowering and again two weeks later will give full control, but using a pheromone trap to be sure you are treating at the right time is best. Alternatively grow under insect proof mesh.

More info on Pea moth

Pigeons: Wood pigeons are often the worst bird pest in gardens and on allotments. They peck at leaves, tearing them, sometimes only leaving the stalks. Pigeons can attack many plants, but particularly brassicas and peas.

Remedy: Shooting can be effective but is often not a safe option in gardens or allotments. Scaring devices or repellent substances are likely to give, at best, only temporary protection. The only certain way of protecting vulnerable plants from pigeons is to grow them under netting.

More info on Pigeons

Harvesting

By choosing different types and cultivars you can harvest fresh pea pods from June until October. Mange tout and sugar snap varieties are generally the easiest to grow.

Pods are ready to harvest when they are well filled. Pick regularly or the plants stop producing flowers and pods.

Mangetout and sugar snaps peas should be picked when the pods are about 7.5cm (3in) long, just as the peas are starting to develop.

Recipes

Nigel Slater teams fresh green peas with lentils and goats’ cheese in this warm salad.

Varieties

‘Feltham First’: Early peas - Round seeded first early and is very hardy, has large, well filled pods of fair flavoured seeds.

‘Kelvedon Wonder’ AGM: Early peas - First early, can be used as an early or main crop, have an excellent flavour.

‘Early Onward’: Early peas - A heavy cropping second early, with sweet wrinkled seeds.

‘Balmoral’ AGM: Maincrop - A late maincrop; dark-foliaged plant produces a heavy crop ofdouble and triple pods per node. Short pods have an average of seven peas per pod, with goodsweet flavour.

‘Dorian’: Maincrop - An early maincrop; good crop ofeasy to pick, very long, straightpods. Plants not too tall;produce mainly double pods per node that contain an average of nine big, well flavoured peas.

‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ AGM: Mangetout peas - Fair flavour, round seeded, very hardy harvest as soon as the pods are big enough to use.

‘Reuzensuiker’ AGM: Mangetout peas - Compact and needs little support, the pods are wide, fleshy and sweet.

‘Sugar Ann’ AGM: Sugarsnap - Early cropping and a good yield of early, sweet pods.

‘Cascadia' AGM: Sugarsnap - Early, attractive, fleshy, tender pods, exceptionally heavy cropping with a sweet flavour.


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