Camilla says she likes peas ‘straight from the garden’ in 2013
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With the summer months finally here, many are taking to their gardens to plant their own fruit and vegetables. When choosing a type of pea to sow, gardeners have a number of options to choose from. Shelling peas produce lovely sweet peas and the shell is discarded after the peas are removed. Sugar snap peas have fleshy pods and the pod and peas are eaten whole, while mangetouts have characteristically flat pods with small peas inside them.
When do you sow peas?
Many opt to sow their peas indoors in either February or March, to help ensure the plant is protected and survives until later in the year.
Mice, pigeons and insects can feast on pea seedlings, destroying the plants.
To do this, some choose to plant the peas in individual pots which are some three inches deep or alternatively in root trainers.
Peas are typically sown outdoors from March to June, depending on the type of crop being grown.
As per the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), first earlies are usually sown from March to early June, ready to be picked and eaten in some 11 to 13 weeks time.
Second earlies are sown from March to June and these peas will be ready in about 14 weeks.
Maincrop cultivars are sown from March to June too, but these can take up to 16 weeks to be ready to harvest.
Check the instructions on the packet for your specific pea variety for optimum times on sowing and harvesting.
How to grow peas
Peas are suited to a multi-purpose and peat-free compost.
Be sure to pick a site for your peas to grow which is sunny and has good drainage.
For peas that have been started off indoors, Gardeners’ World advises the plants can be placed outside when they are some six inches tall.
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They add to “push twiggy sticks pruned from shrubs or trees in the soil”, as this acts as a support for the plant.
After cautiously removing the plants from their root trainers or pots, they can be planted with the compost they grew in between four and six inches apart, keeping the same distance between each row.
The plants can then be carefully twined around the sticks to help them grow and make sure to water the plants regularly to keep the soil moist.
For peas being sowed outdoors, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advise to never sow peas into cold and wet soil, so consider using polythene or cloches to warm the soil prior to sowing.
The RHS add: “Make a flat-bottomed trench 5cm (2in) deep and 15cm (6in) wide – a draw hoe is ideal for this.
“Sow the seeds evenly in the trench about 7.5cm (3in) apart, cover with soil, then lightly firm.
“If you sow a second row, space it at a distance equal to the height of the crop.”
When it’s time to harvest, regularly pick the peas to keep the plants active.
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