Sow in autumn to look forward to an early crop of pea shoots
- Common Name
Peas are part of the legume family of vegetables, which extract nitrogen from the air and store it in little nodules along their roots. For this reason, when the plants finish cropping, dig the roots directly into the soil, where they will slowly decompose and release nitrogen for other plants to use.
Peas are well suited to cooler temperate climates.
Have a go at this task developed with leading children’s mental health charity Place2Be. This creative gardening project guides children through the process of growing their own pea shoots from dried peas.
By stepping into the shoes of a gardener, children can nurture a belief in their ability to care for and positively impact the world around them. Each stage, from sowing to harvesting, includes an art and gardening activity accompanied by reflective prompts. Pea seeds sprout quickly all year round, and within two weeks there will be fresh shoots to taste and share.
When to grow
Autumn (October–November) – you can sow peas in October if you use a hardy bean variety such as 'Oregon Sugar Pod'. You can protect the seedlings from frost using a cloche. If you have a sheltered garden with well-drained soil, sowing in autumn means an earlier summer harvest of pea shoots and peas in May and June.
You can also sow most varieties of peas in the spring; see details on the seed packet for further information.
How to grow
Indoors – sow the peas in individual pots, and when 15cm tall, they can be planted outside with support. Plant them about 15cm apart. Carefully train the tendrils around the support so that they are encouraged to use it. You can also direct sow peas outdoors, but they are often eaten by slugs before they get started on growing.
Harvest pea shoots for an extra crop. Tender pea shoots are delicious raw or cooked. When the plants are 10–15cm tall, you can cut off the top two 'levels' of leaves and bring them into the kitchen. Don't be tempted to cut more than this, though – the stem gets fibrous as it grows, and you want to only use the tender top section. The pea plants will grow back, and you can get several harvests out of them for greens.