- Spring and autumn are the best times to grow peas – they like the cooler weather.
- There are three types of peas:
– Shell-out peas or English peas have firm, rounded pods and the round peas inside need to be removed. These peas get starchy and mealy as they get larger or if they’re not cooked quickly after they’re picked.
– Snow peas are flat with very small peas inside, and the whole pod is edible.
– Sugar snap peas are a cross between snow peas and garden peas. The whole pod is eaten and has a crunchy texture and very sweet flavour.
- Create mounds in your soil for good drainage and, as peas like an alkaline soil, make an application of garden lime.
- Next we put in stakes. Even with dwarf peas, it’s worth staking them because if the plants trail on the soil, they’re likely to pick up fungal diseases. Try making a lattice pattern with bamboo sticks for the peas to grow up. You can tie the sticks together with twisty ties to make the frame a bit more sturdy.
- We plant pea seedlings about 15-20 cms apart and then push pea seeds in between the seedlings, about twice the depth of the seed. The reason for this is that seeds can rot in the soil if there’s a prolonged period of rain. But if the seeds germinate well, you’ll have the bonus of a nice staggered long season.
- All parts of the pea plant are edible including the tendrils and the flowers. Take care not to eat sweet pea flowers though – they’re poisonous!
- Water it all in (there’s no need to water again), then hoop and net the bed to protect the crop against birds and slugs and snails. Then make sure the bed is well-weeded as peas find it hard to compete against weeds.
- Peas are part of the legume family. They contain bacteria called rhizobia within the root nodules of their root systems. These bacteria have the special ability of fixing nitrogen from atmospheric, molecular nitrogen into ammonia. Ammonia is then converted to another form, ammonium, usable by some plants. This arrangement means the root nodules are sources of nitrogen for legumes, making them relatively rich in plant proteins. All proteins contain nitrogenous amino acids. When a legume plant dies after harvesting, all of its remaining nitrogen, incorporated into amino acids inside the remaining plant parts, is released back into the soil. In the soil, the amino acids are converted to nitrate making the nitrogen available to other plants, thereby serving as fertiliser for future crops. After harvest, it’s a good idea to dig the spent plant back into the soil.