Gardening > Grow Your Own... Peas

Grow Your Own... Peas

Peas are best eaten immediately after picking. This is because as soon as the pod is pulled from the vine the sugar in the peas converts to starch so the sweetness of the fresh pea can be lost. Obviously in the case of this vegetable home grown is best and in any case most commercially grown peas go for freezing, canning or drying.

Quite a lot of space is needed in the garden for what is often a relatively small crop. However by choosing a range of varieties of pea the pea picking and eating season can be extended from early summer until the beginning of autumn.

Varieties of Pea Seeds

Pea seeds fall into two varieties – Round and Wrinkled. All Round peas are the first earlies. These peas are hardy, can withstand bad weather and can be sown earlier in the year (late autumn or early spring) than the wrinkled varieties. The round pea seeds are smooth and plump in appearance.

Wrinkled pea seeds are, as their name suggest, very wrinkled in appearance. They are less hardy than the smooth varieties and should not be sown before March. Within this group there are First Earlies, Second Earlies and Main Crop.

How to Grow Peas

Protect sown pea seeds from the birds with guards or netting. When the seedlings are about 3” high put a bushy twig into the soil near each one. Water and mulch when the weather is dry. Weed by hand and hoe regularly.

Peas need good soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated.

Pick pods when they have filled out but are not hard and over-filled. Pick regularly. Pods which are left to mature will lead to a smaller harvest.

When to Sow and Harvest

Round Peas

Sow Feb/Mar or Oct/Nov, harvest May/June

Round Peas

Sow Mid Mar, harvest June/July

Wrinkled (First Early variety)

Sow Mar/Apr, harvest June/July

Wrinkled (Second Early variety)

Sow Mar/Apr, harvest June/July

Wrinkled (Main Crop variety)

Sow Apr/May, harvest late July/early Sept

Wrinkly with good mildew resistance (First Early)

Sow June/July, harvest Sept/early Oct

Some Pea Problems

Downy Mildew

This can affect peas when the weather is cold and wet. The leaves have yellow blotches on the top and mauve/brown mould underneath. The pea pods are spotted and distorted. Prevent by good crop rotation.

Powdery Mildew

The leaves and pods of peas are covered in white powdery patches. Often occurs when the weather is dry and in sheltered positions. Prevent by regular careful watering.

Pea Moth

The maggots of this moth burrow through the pods and into the peas. The peas cannot be eaten. Prevent with a suitable organic spray or concentrate on early and late sowings.