How to grow peas and beans

Planting peas and beans
  • The First Quarter in the moon phases is the time to put in fruiting crops. If you live in a warm climate, you can plant tomatoes in this phase, but we’re going to wait another month till we plant ours. This week, however, we’ll get in our first crops of peas and beans.
  • Make sure the soil is raised to promote good drainage. It keeps the bed warmer as well. Secondly, dig in a good amount of organic matter (compost) for moisture retention. Peas and beans like to have constant moisture during the growing period. Top dress soil with garden lime for alkalinity which peas and beans like. Lime also adds calcium which is good for cell structure in fruiting plants.
  • Peas are annuals and like cooler weather, so they grow well in spring and autumn. Generally they stop producing peas when night temperatures are higher than 22°C. They mature quickly so we’ll get this crop in and out before it gets too hot.
  • We’re planting the Sugar Snap pea ‘Carouby’ today, but you can grow Snow peas or shell-out peas. If you don’t have a permanent growing structure like Rob’s, try a teepee or grow dwarf varieties. The key is to keep the plants off the ground as they’ll grow mould from contact with the soil.
  • Snow peas are flat with very small peas inside, and the whole pod is edible. Shell-out peas or English peas have firm, rounded pods and the round peas inside need to removed. These peas get starchy and mealy as they get larger or if they’re not cooked quickly after they’re picked. 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. All peas can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • It’s worthwhile planting seedlings this year due to the amount of rain we’ve had, as seeds could simply rot in the soil before germinating. But we will sow a seed in between each seedling to lengthen the fruiting season. Press each seed down around 3cm into the soil.
  • The flowers and tendrils of peas are also edible. But don’t eat the flowers of sweet peas – they’re toxic.
  • Beans are classified into two types – French beans (probably the most common type – round and shiny) and runner beans. Runner beans have a stronger flavour and coarser texture than French beans; they’re also longer and have attractive purple beans inside the pods. The beans we’re planting today are Scarlet Runners which are from the Southern Hemisphere and they curl anti-clockwise up the support structure. If you’re going to save your seeds from runner beans, you can’t plant other runner beans in the same vicinity as they’ll cross readily and not stay true to type. If you plant a climber bean variety however, they generally don’t cross with other climbers or runners. So check the variety of bean you grow carefully if you sow more than one variety and if you’re going to save seeds.
  • Beans are perennials and the roots of plants can remain in the soil for up to 7 years. If you want your beans to pop up in the same place every year, make sure it’s a suitable location and the soil is full of nutrients.
  • After planting our seedlings we do the same as for the peas and press a bean seed into the soil in between each seedling to a depth of around 3cm.
  • Water the plants and lime in. Rob has drip irrigation above the seedlings which will go on daily during summer. Beans need daily watering to grow quickly and not go stringy.
Feeding garlic with liquid seaweed
  • If we give a dose of liquid seaweed regularly to our garlic plants it will help size them up and keep any rust that might develop at bay.
  • As our garlic is almost full-grown you can double or triple the strength of the solution. We like Ocean Organics Seaweed Foliar Concentrate but you can make your own by collecting seaweed from the beach. Stuff a barrel as full as you can with fresh seaweed. Then pour in enough water to submerge the seaweed. Put a top on it and weigh it down to keep the top on. It’s best not to use an airtight lid though. Stir the contents every week or two. In the warmer months it may be ready in just 2-3 weeks or it may take 2-3 months if the weather is cooler. But you’ll know it’s ready when the seaweed has emulsified (broken down completely and mixed well with the water, turning into thick dark liquid). Regular application is diluting 20 parts to 1 with water but in this case it can be stronger.
  • Splash the liquid over the leaves of the garlic and the rest will go into the soil and the bulbs. It’s a good idea to repeat this every two weeks until the garlic is ready (around late November/early December).
Chitting potatoes and kumara
  • Remember to bathe your chitting potatoes and kumara in a seaweed solution once a week for a month before planting out. Leave in the solution for 30 minutes, then carefully arrange in egg cartons to dry out and place out of direct sunlight in a warm, dry spot. Take care not to damage the developing chits.


Camera: Ollie Logan
Editor: Thomas Asche