Peas are favourite winter grown crop and especially fun for kids who are usually delighted to discover that peas actually come from little green packages call pods, not just frozen in plastic bags.
Peas are best grown from seed sown directly into cool soil. Planting is timed to avoid flowering in frosty or hot dry weather. Also, cool but not heavy wet soil is needed for successful germination. Therefore, autumn or winter sowing is ideal for peas in a warm climate garden, whereas spring sowing suits a cold climate.
A bunch of sweet peas is one of the sweetest, freshest scents of spring and summer. Old-fashioned sweet pea varieties have a reputation for being the most fragrant, but there are lots of beautiful varieties to try.
Sow seed in autumn and they’ll grow over winter to flower in spring. Like other peas, sweet peas need cool soil for germination. However, the seedlings are killed by frost, so if your winter is cold and frosty, wait until spring to sow seed.
Sweet peas in a pot
You will need:
The French call them ‘mangetoute’ which means ‘eat all’. The fabulous thing about snow peas and their close relatives, the snap peas is that they are eaten pod and all. Even the flowers and young shoots are edible. And then, if we use what’s left for compost or mulch, it feeds our soil; as with all legumes, snow peas convert nitrogen from the air into nitrogen in the soil.
Snow peas, snap peas and ordinary peas are all varieties of the same plant species, Pisum sativum. The difference is in their pods. When eaten young, the pods of snow peas and snap peas lack the tough fibrous layer that lines the walls of a normal pea pod.Snow peas have flat pods while snap peas, or ‘sugar snaps’ have fatter, more rounded pods.
Both grow best in cooler weather. They can be planted in autumn or winter in warm climates, otherwise in early spring as soon as the danger of a frost is passed. While more cold tolerant than other vegetables, the young seedlings will suffer in harsh frost. Generally snow peas are more heat tolerant than other peas. Plant in full sun, or half-day sun as the weather gets warmer.
Whether you are growing them in the garden soil or a large container filled with planting mix, plant seeds into their permanent position. For tall and climbing varieties put stakes in place before you sow, so that you don’t damage the roots once they are growing. Alternatively, plant them along a trellis or fence with wires or netting for support. Add fertiliser at planting time (slow release fertiliser or sheep pellets) and feed regularly with liquid fertiliser once the plants are growing.
Sow seeds in batches every few weeks for a continuous supply. Protect the young seedlings from slugs and snails.
For more information about snow peas and snap peas go to www.yates.co.nz or www.kingsseeds.co.nz
Pea seedlings raised from seed in used toilet rolls
Peas supported by cut branches
"Easy Peasy" peas
"Easy Peasy" peas