Choice of Peas
There are three main categories of peas.
A. Shelling Peas. As the name suggests, the mature peas are removed from the pods and the pods are discarded. The pods are ready to pick when they are plump and start to develop a waxy sheen.
B. Snap Peas. Both pods and the seeds (peas) inside are eaten. They are ready to harvest when the pods start to fill out.
C. Snow Peas. These are flat edible pods with very small peas inside. They are popular for some forms of Asian cuisine but are often used in Western styled dishes as well. They are also tasty eaten raw or included in salads.
Within these categories you'll find two styles of growth: tall, twining (or climbing) and bush or dwarf. The tall peas need a trellis or fence for support; the dwarf peas are either self-supporting or can be assisted with strings or short stakes.
• Choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day
• If necessary install trellis or other support for twining peas
• Loosen the soil to a depth of 20 cm (8 in). If the soil tends to be dry, dig in some compost to help it retain moisture.You could also grow the peas in a no dig bed or a large container.
• Soak the pea seeds overnight in water to assist germination.
• Make a trench 2 - 5 cm (1 - 2 in). Use the deeper measurement if the soil is light and dries out quickly. Sow more deeply from mid to late Spring or early in Autumn. If the trellis is not against a wall or fence, make another trench on the other side of it for planting there too.
• Sow the seeds 2 - 4 cm apart (1 - 2 in) for climbing peas and thin to about 4 cm if necessary. Bush or dwarf peas can be sown 2 cm (1 in) apart and in rows 60 cm (2 ft) apart. The close sowing in rows will help the plants to support one another.
• Cover the seeds and water the area unless it is already wet.
3. Caring for Your Plants
Now you wait for the peas to come through the soil. Things to watch for are:
• Slugs and snails. A good way to discourage these creatures is to surround the peas with coffee grounds. Crushed egg shells, sawdust or similar dry material can be used instead. Diatomaceous earth is highly recommended by many organic gardeners and copper wire around the edge of the growing area forms an effective barrier. I don't advise the use of salt as it will damage the soil structure and limit or prevent growth.
• Birds. Tie old CDs to the trellis or to stakes to scare birds; tie black sewing thread to small stakes and stretch it along the rows - this is said to confuse the birds. Leaving a dish of fresh water in the area may also help. Remember that birds help to clear pests such as snails from your garden so don't frighten them away altogether.
• Watering. Check the soil around the peas often and if it seems dry then water the area. Peas do not like dryness. But beware, they will not grow well if the soil is too heavy and over wet. Good drainage is essential. In drier areas a mulch would help you provide more even moisture.
Preparation, correct planting and a little care should give you a generous crop of delicious peas. The work involved takes only a short time but watering in particular needs to be done as required. Peas grown with insufficient water are hard, dry and have a disappointing flavour: don't let that happen when it's so easy to have them crisp and sweet.
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Article provided by Margret E