Give peas a chance

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I’m currently experiencing a pea epiphany. In the past, I’ve only grown a token pea crop, mainly because I kind of felt I had to. Everyone grows peas, right? You can’t possibly have a veg patch or allotment without growing peas. It’s just not cricket. However, this year is already different. The times they are a changin’, and I’ve been sowing all sorts of peas. It appears that in the space of a winter, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with peas.

I am still not sure why this is. I wondered if it might be because I saw them referred to as ‘garden peas’, rather than plain old ‘peas’. I’m a romantic fool, and ‘garden peas’ sounds so much more enticing than simply ‘peas’. There is definitely an element of nostalgia surrounding peas. Last year I grew a Heritage Seed Library variety, called Essex Star. This pea was bred just down the road from me, and being a sucker for local times gone by, I couldn’t resist them.

Essex Star Pea growing

The pea love might also be because I have a desire to make things pretty now I’m growing in the garden instead of an allotment, and I’ve come to appreciate peas make a very attractive plant. I could easily sneak some peas in the out of bounds flower beds without my wife noticing… For earlies, I’m going traditional and sticking with the Essex Star, growing up sticks and wires using the seeds I saved from last year’s successful crop.

These  peas were beautiful last year – dark green and lush – I’m very excited about them once more. However, I’m equally excited about the 6ft climbing mangetout and maincrop peas that I’m planning to grow up wigwams. I’ve always loved structures on veg patches. They really bring a plot to life, adding interest and shape to what can sometimes look like a very functional area.

In the past I’ve grown peas and mangetout in containers too, using old recycle boxes that were being thrown out by the local Council. I sow fairly close, in rows, and when the peas reach about 3 inches high, I poke sticks and twigs into the soil for the plants to climb up. Keep well watered and you’ll have a good crop in a small space.

Container Peas

I’ve already sown some faithful and reliable Kelvedon Wonder in a container, covered by a sheet of glass to increase the temperature and help germination. When the weather finally warms up I’ll remove the glass and with a little luck the peas will be the right size for me to introduce the sticks and twigs. However, on the patio, I’m looking for a more attractive proposition than peas growing in plastic containers emblazoned with local Council logos, so I’ve got some stunning purple podded peas to grow here.

I love sowing pea seeds in nice pots, and growing them up willow cuttings, tied together at the top. I first tried this with sweet peas, but liked the result so much that I made a small sowing of peas in this way too. They looked gorgeous in the pot, and being mobile, I ended up moving them around my garden whenever I fancied a change. I’m intrigued by how moving to growing in a garden from an allotment has changed the way I see things. I’m placing a lot of emphasis on how veg looks as well as tastes now I can see the patch from the dinner table.

Peas are a great start for adding aesthetic appeal to a veg plot and with so many different ways of showing them off, it feels very uplifting to finally give peas a chance.

Find out Sarah's favourite pea varieties to grow in her video at Perch Hill...

Thanks for reading!