How to grow peas...

Peas are one of the easiest, quickest growing vegetables to grow with children, with a relatively short harvest time, in about 10-12 weeks from sowing.

Nothing quite beats the taste and freshness picking and eating peas straight from the pod, almost a guaranteed way to get children to eat their greens!

 

1. Choose your pea seeds

There are essentially three main pea types to choose from; English Peas, Snow peas and Sugar Snap Peas.  

With plenty of varieties of these 3 main types of peas available, you can pick from any of these easy to grow varieties to get started -

 

ENGLISH PEAS

English peas do not have edible pods; you have to wait until fully plumped before shelling and eating. Shelling peas are one of the fastest maturing types of peas, with the smaller, bush varieties ready in about 50 days. Try growing the following varieties: 'Green Arrow,' 'Maestro,' 'Lincoln,'  'Tall Telephone' and 'Kelvedon Wonder'.

SNOW PEAS

Snows peas have flat edible pods; the seeds are not allowed to fill out before harvesting. Even though you do not have to wait for the peas inside to plump, snow peas tend to have the longest days to maturity of all the peas, especially the tall varieties. Try growing the following varieties: 'Golden Sweet,' 'Mammoth Melting Sugar,' 'Oregon Giant,' and 'Oregon Sugar Pod.'

SUGAR SNAP PEAS

Sugar snap peas are a cross between English peas and snow peas. As with English peas, the seeds are allowed to plump up a bit. However, the pods are crisp and edible, so they do not need to be shelled and are used in recipes in the same way as snow peas. Sugar snap peas are grown the same way as English peas, but they tend to last a bit longer when the weather warms up. Try growing the following varieties: 'Cascadia,' 'Sugar Ann,' 'Sugar Daddy,' and 'Super Sugar Snap.

 

2. Growing your peas

Once you've sown your peas seeds, (we would recommend sowing one pea per compost pellet) if using the My Mini Garden seed growing kit, or seed tray with compost, and the plant has germinated and is around 5cm tall, it’s time to plant outside in the ground or in a large pot with compost. A well sheltered, sunny spot is recommended.

 

3. Climbing structure

Peas are climbing vegetables so need a structure/support to climb up. You can use 3 bamboo canes tied with  garden twine into a wigwam, netting against a wall or trellis. When seedlings are small, they can be susceptible to blowing over in the wind so using garden twine or ties, loosely tie the seedling to the growing structure to give it more support.

 

3. Looking after your pea plant

Continue to water and keep the soil moist during dry spells, and feed with a high potash plant food weekly once flowers appears – follow the instructions on the plant food.  Your pea plant will flower first and then after around 4-12 weeks (depending on what you’re growing) the flowers will grow into pea pods and continuing plumping up.

 

4. Pests and Problems

Slugs

Slugs can prey on pea seedlings, try these natural slug repellent methods to keep slugs at bay: coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, copper tape, beer traps, natural organic wool.

Pea moth caterpillars:

Non-pesticide control. Peas can be grown under horticultural fleece, insect-proof mesh, to prevent female moths laying eggs on the plants. Peas are self-pollinating and so excluding bees and other pollinators with fleece will not affect the crop.

Birds

A few tips to keep birds from eating pea pods include: hanging old cds on your growing structure, birds don't like the reflection, using upturned empty plastic bottles on top of the bamboo sticks - they don't like the nose they make and garden netting can also be used if birds are eating your crop.

FREE Pea seeds and growing kit with the spring issue of the My Mini Garden magazine 

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"Gardening covers so many parts of the curriculum, maths, science, art, physical exercise and very importantly, team work. It is the perfect vehicle for hands on learning."

 Chris Collins, Lead Ambassador National Children’s Gardening Week

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