How to grow Peas

Peas are very definitely a green wheelbarrow veg plant as they are easy to grow, even from seed. Peas and beans germinate easily and quickly from seed, usually within 5-7 days of sowing. To grow from seed as in image above left, germinate into a root trainer or toilet roll holder to allow for a long root run. Put one or two seeds per container and place in propagator  or cover to keep warm and to prevent drying out during the germination. Peas can be  germinated from March onwards for planting out in May /June when you can also sow direct into the soil. Plant or sow about 10-15cms apart in rows which are spaced out. If planted too close together it can aggregate mildew which Peas can be prone to becoming infected later in the season. Plants which are dry are more prone so water well and planting further apart helps the air circulation.

Peas, whether you are growing conventional type, sugar snap or the mange tout varieties, need to climb and scramble up netting rather than canes, and whilst you can buy special nets for peas any sort of netting is Ok and can be re cycled each year. Because they climb using tendrils it is important to get a net or twigs in place before they start growing. There are short, dwarf and tall varieties of peas which determines the type of support, pea sticks and stakes for the short varieties, for the tall ones a net or trellis will be needed.

Some peas also have attractive coloured pods and flowers, illustrated above is Heritage Pea Blauwschokker which tastes as good as it looks.

Peas don't like their roots being disturbed and one advantage of sowing into toilet roll holders as opposed to root trainers is that with toilet roll holders you can leave them in situ or peel away very carefully causing minimum disturbance to the roots.   Keep compost moist and the Peas should germinate easily.

Once seedlings are about 15cms high you need to harden off before planting out. It's too much of a shock to the plant to go from the protected environment of a greenhouse straight outside so place the  tray of plants outside on milder days bringing inside at night. When planting out minimise root disturbance. Peas need support and depending on size, the dwarf variety will make do with pea sticks but taller varieties will require a net to scramble up. Peas have tendrils whereas Runner and French Beans climb and wind around supports, tendrils need a net to climb up.

Peas are an ideal crop for children to grow. They germinate easily, grow quickly and can be picked and eaten straight from the pod. 

In the same way as Lathyrus odoratus, the Sweet Pea, Peas put out many tendrils and if you have time it is a good idea to thin these out a bit otherwise, towards the end of the growing season, the peas can be a bit of a tangle which reduces growth and cropping. Apart from this, Peas don't need any real maintenance except to improve the crop ensure the crop does not run short of water once the flowers appear. Its always a good idea if buying seed or plants to select  those with RHS merit  which is an indication of best  performance.

There are first early and second early  varieties of peas  designed to fruit at different times.

 Although there are a number of diseases which can strike Peas they are usually trouble free. If after sowing the plant fails to germinate it is usually rodents eating the Pea seed.

The only attention Peas need is to water in a dry spell especially after flowering when the pods are fattening up.

Suggest varieties of Peas to grow

Good varieties to grow are often those with the RHS garden merit award  such as 'Kelvedon Wonder' 'Balmoral'  Sugar Snap ' Sugar Ann' 'Cascadia' and also Heritage Pea Blauwschokker. 

Peas are an easy to grow rewarding crop, almost fool proof and along with  the bean family such as Broad and Runner beans