Sunday, September 20, 2015
Fresh peas from the garden have a taste all of their own and they are a crop I look forward to each year.
Peas are a cool season crop, that makes them in the warm area where I live in Oz a spring harvest. The recommended time for planting these sweet babies is February - August in my area, that's end of summer through winter. However in England I believe March to June would be an ideal planting time.
But for those of you who live in Oz and haven't planted any yet, don't despair. If you live in a warm area like Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide, hurry you can just squeeze in a planting now, although I would recommend advanced seedlings as opposed to seeds. However, if you live in a hot area like Perth, Brisbane and Darwin you can still plant seeds direct into the ground. Cool areas like Canberra, Ballarat and Tasmania have a planting time of January-Oct. (The guide I'm using for planting times is The Digger Club's Sow What When.)
I planted my seedlings out in autumn, having first grown them from seeds in my little greenhouse. I prefer to raise them in seed trays, then when the seedlings are big enough I move them out of the greenhouse and into a protected area outside, where they can harden off for two to three weeks. You can't take baby seedlings straight from a warmer setting and plant them into the ground, the seedlings will be too tender - hence the hardening off period.
Before I plant them into my veggie garden I like to prepare the soil a couple or so weeks ahead by digging in some well rotted manure, or blood and bone and some lovely compost. This time I used mushroom compost. Peas like a well drained soil and an open situation where they get sunshine. At the time of planting I also scatter a handful of lime to sweeten the soil and lightly dig this in. Now your plants should not look back. From this stage onwards I give them a liquid feed around every two to three weeks and I carry on feeding them through their cropping season.
My plants are now at the stage of producing their crop and I'm harvesting them a little each day. I like to grow three different varieties of peas:
A shelling variety called Willow. It's a mid sized plant and will need support. It produces lots of pods over a long period and the peas are so sweet that I have to stop myself eating them straight from the pod!
The next on my list is Snow Peas, such a versatile variety. They're great in stir fries or raw in salads or simply steamed as a veg.
These again need support and grow to around 1.1m (3.5ft) Heavy cropper, they too seem to last over a long season - a must have in any kitchen garden.
The last on my list is the Sugar Snap Pea, it's a versatile pea with a sweet flavour. You cook the young pods whole, but they are also tasty eaten raw in salads.
A tall variety which can reach around 1.8m (6ft) and will need good support. They don't seem to crop has heavily as the other two varieties I've mentioned, but their sweetness makes them well worth growing.
Don't forget to keep your peas well watered and to pick the pods regularly to encourage your plant to produce more of these lovely treats!
There you have it growing peas is easy-peasy.
Why not have a go at growing some yourself.