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May 022017

What garden is complete without a plethora of peas? A great winter crop, peas add vertical interest to the vegie patch, and give a decent yield for the amount of space they consume. And besides, there is no greater pleasure than a handful of home grown peas eaten straight from the pod. So go on, pop in some peas – you’ll be pleased you did!

Planting Time: April – Sept

Position: Full sun, frost free

Water Needs: Low

Difficulty: Moderate

How Long: 11 – 14 weeks

Pea yourself with these great varieties:

Early Crop Massey: A heavy cropping variety of pea that is quick growing, and takes up less vertical space than many others. Early Crop Massey is quite a sweet flavoured pea.
Greenfeast: Just like the peas your nanna used to grow, Greenfeast are the old-school peas perfect for shelling. Peas are sweet and a good size.
Snow Pea: A must have, climbing snow peas have a delightful, slightly nutty flavour, and can be eaten fresh off the plant, or lightly cooked. Full of juice and incredibly sweet, the Sugarsnap can be eaten pod and all, or grown for longer and then shelled. A beautiful home-grown pea.

Peas will grow best in full sun with frost-free conditions. Most peas are climbers so they need support as they can get up to about 2m high. However you can limit their height by nipping out the growing tip when they are as tall as your structure allows. A wire trellis, “tee pee” or similar can be used to prop them up. Plant no closer than 15cm to prevent young peas being over crowded and “fighting” each other. Peas are generally best when planted from seed (they are dead easy) but seedlings will transplant well too.

Peas will thank you if you prepare their bed about five weeks before planting. Do this by adding loads of well-rotted chook poo and compost, and maintaining a pH of 6.5 – 7.5. A touch of dolomite lime in the patch at planting time is a good idea, one small handful around the area to be planted.

A sprinkling of blood and bone a couple of times throughout the growing season, in addition to a drink of seaweed based fertiliser every three weeks is more than sufficient, especially if there is a pile of chook poo in the soil.

Overwatering, especially when peas are young, can lead to all manner of issues. Peas should be watered first thing in the morning, only when soil feels dry, avoiding getting water on the foliage.

Peas don’t generally suffer from a great deal of issues (apart from the previously mentioned overwatering) although mildews on foliage can occasionally present a problem. To prevent mildews taking hold, don’t water the leaves late in the afternoon, don’t overcrowd your peas, and don’t over feed (particularly with high nitrogen fertilisers). If a mildew does appear, make up a milk mix (about 1 parts full cream to 10 parts water) and spray it on affected peas. It won’t prevent mildew but it will knock it right back! Chamomile tea also works a treat, just spray it on.

Birds love peas almost as much as we do, especially the young seedlings. Try some bird netting over your young pea plants, or make some shiny, shimmery “bird scarers” to protect your peas.

Most peas, including dwarf varieties, are ready to harvest between 11 – 14 weeks. Harvest frequently and continuously for a prolonged crop… the more you pick the more they fruit! Expect a 6 week harvest from snow peas, and 3 weeks from garden peas.

Plant with: beetroot, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Eggplant, Lettuce, Potato, Sage and Cucumber

Try not to plant near: Chives, Garlic, Onions and Shallots