Peas harvested fresh from the garden are one of the reasons we garden, the taste of peas straight from the veg plot are delicious and incredibly sweet, like nothing you can ever dream of buying in the supermarket.
In this article you will discover step by step how to grow your own peas from seed including how to sow peas, how to plant out them in the garden and exactly how to support them.
Tall vs Dwarf Peas
Before you begin growing your own peas you must first choose which to grow, dwarf peas or tall peas.
Tall peas can be very difficult to provide support for with some varieties growing to 8-10 feet tall but that is made up by the huge crops they provide and the incredible taste many of the tall heritage pea varieties have.
Dwarf peas have become more popular in recent times as they are easier to harvest by machine, this means that most of the new varieties in the catalogues are now dwarfs. Dwarf beans are easy to support (many new varieties need no support), quite productive and are often earlier in the season.
For most people growing some very early dwarf peas followed by tall peas as a maincrop is the ideal compromise.
Planting Pea Seeds
Peas sown in wet cold soil will be very slow to germinate which is why early peas should always be sown indoors in either toilet roll inners or in roottrainers. Later peas can be sown in a trench directly in the soil.
Peas started indoors can be sown from February onwards with direct sowings starting from late March and continuing until early June.
Peas sown indoors should be sown in a multipurpose compost about 2 inches (5cm) deep. Water well straight after planting but be sure not to overwater after planting as this can cause rot. Within a week you should expect the first peas to be showing their heads.
For outdoor planting three rows of peas should be sown 2 inches (5cm) deep, 2 inches apart (5cm) apart with each of the three rows also being spaced 2 inces (5cm) apart. Planting three rows so close together allows the plants to support each other as they grow.
Peas planted indoors should be transplanted outdoors in the manor described as above once they are 2-3 inches (5 - 7.5cm) tall.
Supporting Pea Plants
When it comes to supporting peas the best method I have found in over 20 years is using chicken wire stretched between two strong posts. Dwarf peas will grow up four foot (120cm) netting with taller peas using two rows of netting making a height of 8ft (240cm).
It’s important that the posts are placed at least every 4ft (120cm) to give enough support as the peas grow. String can also be used to support peas that come lose from the wire.
The second method I have used successfully for dwarf peas is to place small posts every 3 feet (90cm) each side of a row of peas. Stretching string between these posts supports the peas and keeps the crop off the ground. This is a good method for dwarf peas as it is so easy (and free!) but it doesn’t quite provide the same amount of support as the chicken wire.
Aftercare & Harvesting For Peas
Once your pea plants are a good 4 inches (10cm) tall you can begin feeding with a liquid seaweed to give the plants an extra boost, this feeding should be down once every two weeks until the first flowers begin to show. Stop feeding once the first flowers form and the plant will begin to put it’s energy into the peas.
For the early quick producing varieties it can be as early as 10 weeks that harvesting begins. Maincrop varieties take longer with the harvesting beginning after 15 weeks.
It’s easy to tell when peas are ready as the pods begin to bulge. Pick the pods as soon as they are big enough and do this regularly, the more often that you harvest from your pea plant the longer they will continue to produce.
After the season has ended and the plants have finished it’s a good idea not to pull the roots from the soil, peas are a nitrogen fixing plant and leaving the roots in the soil to decay will add nitrogen that is valuable for the next crop to be plated. The foliage can be composted as usual.