Hints and Tips For Growing Pea Plants

Mange Tout

Peas are one of the easiest edible plants to grow and are great for children and beginners. They are fairly forgiving of lackadaisical gardening and nothing tastes better than your own fresh, organic peas picked straight from the pod - or eaten pod and all. In April, you will be able to sow peas directly outdoors in most areas. Peas direct sown in this way will be vulnerable to being eaten by rodents, however, so if you know that mice could be a problem where you live then it is often a good idea to start your pea shoots indoors and then plant them out when they will be less vulnerable to rodent attack.

You can use toilet roll tubes and biodegradable pots in which to sow. That way you can move your peas to their final growing positions without fearing any root damage or transplant shock. Incidentally, it is worth noting that pea shoots are also delicious, so if you have plenty of peas then you can plant some to grow and provide your pea crop in the summer and eat some while they are still young and tender. Pea shoots can be a great addition to your salads during the 'hungry gap' when there are not as many fresh greens about. Bought in a shop or restaurant they cost a fortune! But this gourmet item can be yours for next to nothing when you grow food at home.

There are different sorts of pea that are better suited to planting at various different times of year, so make sure you have chosen one that is perfect for spring planting and will produce the sort of mange tout, garden peas or petit pois that you are looking for. Always plant more peas than you think you will want and as many as you have room for – most of them will likely disappear before you can even get them into the kitchen!

Choosing where to plant peas, consider where their nitrogen-fixing properties can be taken advantage of by leaving the roots in place to benefit what comes after. Place in a sunny and ideally sheltered position and consider access for picking. If you place peas on a pathway often walked down or beside a seating area, there will doubtless be a lot of grazing when the harvest is ready.

When you plant your peas outside, be sure to get your support in place before they are growing. There is absolutely no need to buy an expensive system of supports – just place some twiggy branches in the ground and these will be perfect for your peas to climb up. If the weather is still a bit cold or rodents are a problem, you can protect your pea shoots with cloches made from old plastic bottles. These will also keep off the slugs in areas where these can be a problem at this time of the year.