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Beginner’s Guide To Peas

By Emily Peagram
25th March 2024

Peas are beneficial plants that definitely deserve a place on your plot. They are members of the legume family, with roots that fix nitrogen from the air and transfer it into the soil. This veg is not only practical, but also delicious and ornamental, producing colourful flowers before fruiting.  Home-grown crops are sweeter than shop- bought ones, as more of the sugars turn to starch inside pods that have been off the plant for a long time.

START SOWING
Choose an open, weed-free site in full sun for sowing your peas. They should be grown in moist, well-drained soil. It is best to dig in plenty of well-rotted compost a few weeks before starting in order to improve fertility and retain water.

Peas started in cold, wet ground will rot, so make sure they are in warm soil and cover with horticultural fleece. Seeds should be sown 6cm apart in a flat-bottomed trench which is 5cm deep. Water the trench, sow the seeds along the bottom, backfill and firm the ground. For successional growing, you should do this fortnightly.

CARING FOR YOUR CROPS
As the plants grow taller, they can be supported by using bamboo canes and trellis. Water your peas well when they begin to flower and for two weeks after this in order for the pods to swell. Add a mulch around the base of your crops to preserve the soil’s moisture, which should be checked at root level to ensure that the edibles are getting enough water.

Remember not to feed peas with nitrogen- rich fertilisers, as this can cause the plant to produce lots of leaves instead of pods. Normally, these crops don’t require any extra type of feed.

POTENTIAL PESTS AND PROBLEMS
Mice are partial to young peas, easily destroying a crop in its entirety. You can reduce this risk by keeping them under cover until they are about 10cm tall, when you can plant them out and they’ll be more robust. Peas also make a tasty snack for hungry pigeons, so prevent them from snaffling your crops by growing plants under a fleece. This also stops birds from uprooting your veg.

Be wary of pests that specifically target this crop, such as the pea moth and the pea weevil. Moth maggots can be found inside the pods, while the weevil nibbles leaves in the spring, resulting in stunted seedlings. An organic pesticide can control these issues.

Be wary of pests that specifically target this crop, such as the pea moth and the pea weevil. Moth maggots can be found inside the pods, while the weevil nibbles leaves in the spring, resulting in stunted seedlings. An organic pesticide can control these issues.

Mildew, wilt, and rotting disease can also attack peas at different times depending on the weather. To avoid these problems, practice crop rotation and burn unhealthy or diseased leaves.

HARVEST TIME!
Peas are ready to harvest when the pods are well-filled, and need regular picking for a plentiful crop, otherwise they will stop producing flowers and yields. Start harvesting from the bottom of the plant, working your way upwards.

After harvesting, the pea’s roots are full of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Cut off the stems at ground level to allow what is left of the plant to rot down and release nitrogen back into the soil. This will help the next crop sown in the same position.

To store peas, refrigerate them in a plastic bag and do not shell them until they are ready to use. These will keep for up to five days. To freeze them, shell and wash your peas, blanch for two minutes, then chill in ice water before getting rid of any excess moisture and packaging them in some airtight containers.

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