Real Men Sow

Why I’m Growing Mangetout Instead of Peas


When I first started growing my own veg, peas were one of the first seeds on the shopping list. Every allotment holder and GYOer grows peas, right? They’re a plot staple. Where would we be without the good old garden pea?

This was consistently the case for my first few years on the allotment, but recently my pea growing mojo has waned. Suddenly, I’m thinking about not bothering with them at all.

Peas have always been hit and miss for me. I’ve grown them in lots of different ways, ranging from up wigwams (the most successful for me) to containers, as well the traditional methods, such as supporting dwarf varieties with twigs and sticks.

Underwhelmed by the Yield and Discovering Mangetout
Trouble is, I’ve often felt underwhelmed by the yield. Everything would look promising, but by the time I’d shelled the peas there wouldn’t be much to show for the considerable space the plants were taking up.

Then I discovered mangetout and slowly, everything has changed. For anyone who doesn’t know, mangetout are a type of pea, but they’re the little flat pea pods, which you eat whole, before the peas swell.

Mangetout Outcropping Peas
Each year that I’ve grown mangetout, they’ve outcropped the peas. Given the same space as peas, mangetout provide so much more bang for buck, and now my pea growing is on the brink of being phased out completely in favour of the bigger mangetout harvests.

With space being at a premium in the garden beds, I’ve no room for both, and there’s only ever going to be one winner. It is with veggie growing regret, that I’m not giving peas a chance.

Mangetout Much More Expensive in the Shops
Interestingly, mangetout are much, much more expensive than peas in the shops too. I noticed this when we picked up a big bag of frozen peas from the local supermarket for just over a quid. I couldn’t believe how cheap they were. Loads of British peas, at a cheaper price than a packet of seeds.

On the other hand, the price of mangetout is through the roof. A 215g packet of mangetout costs £1.40 in one of the big supermarkets – that’s a whopping £6.51 a kilo, compared to just £1.50 for the same quantity of peas.

I know mangetout is out of season and the peas are frozen so the comparison is possibly a bit unfair, but that’s plenty of food for thought if you’re growing to save money.

Good Mangetout Varieties
If you fancy giving mangetout a go, I’d recommend the reliable and popular Oregon Sugar Pod AGM or heritage seed variety Golden Sweet.

Oregon Sugar Pod is best sown in a row, and grown against some netting. The plant will reach about a metre high, making them a doddle to harvest.

Golden Sweet are available from Real Seeds and are trickier to pick as they can grow up to six foot high. I grew this variety up a wigwam a couple of years ago, and it was the best harvest of mangetout I’ve ever had. Even the courgettes couldn’t keep up!

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  1. NaomiNomeJanuary 24, 2015 at 7:14 pmReply

    Funny, I’m in the opposite situation! I never grew podding peas before because they didn’t seem worth it, but after podding a few ‘multipurpose’ peas that had gone past the mangetout stage last year, I’m giving a few ‘proper’ peas a try.

    You must try the mangetout variety ‘Carouby de Maussane’ if you can – HUGE pods that just get sweeter as they get bigger!

  2. CeliaJanuary 25, 2015 at 9:04 amReply

    I was about to tell you to grow Carouby de Maussane, but NaomiNome beat me to it :-) )))

  3. JamesJanuary 25, 2015 at 9:32 amReply

    I hadn’t ordered any peas this year as I have been feeling the same About my pea crops. Definitely going to try mangetout now though!

  4. HelleJanuary 25, 2015 at 9:51 amReply

    Hmm, I’m not having that much luck with peas either, so far, but to me freshly shelled peas are up there with asparagus, so I’m going to continue with the peas. But good luck with your mangetout.

  5. AnonymousJanuary 25, 2015 at 2:11 pmReply

    I really must fly the flag for the pea! I would heartily recommend the variety Twinkle (I just liked the name) they are a very early variety I have just down my first row on the greenhouse but I am in the very far South West so it might be a little early for some. In the greenhouse they are all over before you need the space for toms etc and crop heavily. Outside they have never failed to give a good crop which, when followed on by a later variety have given me peas most of the summer and although mangetout are very nice you can’t beat a home grown pea!

  6. ScottJanuary 25, 2015 at 7:44 pmReply

    One of my all time favourite things about growing peas is eating them raw, shelled and popped into the mouth mere seconds after picking them. Don’t think I could live without that experience each year.
    My daughters got in on the act last year, and they love shelling them for dinner too, so I’m taking the pea corner!!!
    Why not grow pea shoots on the windowsill for salads and stir frys? The cost an arm and a leg from the shops, taste amazing, take up barely any room and you could still say you’re growing peas ☺

  7. CarolyneJanuary 28, 2015 at 5:20 amReply

    I live in the US and the was about to go look up what mange tout was. Until you said what variety you grow. Oregon is the state I live in. We call them snap peas here and then there are also snow peas. Snap peas are eaten with puffy pods, snow peas are flat and used in Chinese stir fry. My favorite variety is Cascadia. I’d be happy to mail you a packet. Leave some peas on the vine till dry and use those seeds the next year. They don’t cross pollinate and you’ll never have to buy new seeds. I’m with you on shelling peas. Too much work, not enough pay.

  8. MattFebruary 6, 2015 at 9:06 amReply

    I did the same thing as you – swapping from growing peas to growing mangetout. However, I really missed the magic of taking peas out their pods. It can be a bit fiddly, and it’s not as if peas are expensive in the shops. But I wouldn’t be without them in the veg plot.

  9. EmmaFebruary 7, 2015 at 11:27 amReply

    I’m with you on the mangetout revolution.. although I do love peas freshly picked, eaten on the spot, its so frustrating having such a massive range of readiness when you go to pick them
    , some would be too little, some past their best and gone starchy.. but with mange tout their ‘edible period’ is much longer than little pea. Sorry little pea. I do miss you though :-(

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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