Real Men Sow

Growing Peas in Containers

Since I posted about my peas vs snail battle, I’ve had a couple of emails asking about growing the little green pods in containers.

I’ve been using this method for a couple of years now, after zero success with peas and mangetout on the allotment. I struggled with patchy germination, and what did come through shrivelled up and went to pea heaven pretty fast. I think that the plants took a disliking to the very dry conditions, and never made it up the neat wire support I put together.

In an attempt to combat this, I tried an experimental sowing in a knackered old Council recycling box. Lo and behold, I got a bumper crop of mangetout; my first ever. Delighted, I got on with perfecting my container peas and mangetout technique quicksharp, and this is what worked for me:

The Container
The kerbside container is a 44 litre jobbie, and measures about 50cm x 40cm, and 30cm deep. This size is great, but I’ve also used 40cm x 40cm plastic pots that a nearby neighbour was chucking out.

The Soil
I make four small holes in the bottom of the containers (unless already there) and fill the bottom two thirds with any old soil I can find. The soil from last year’s pots or hanging baskets are good. I’ve also put turf upside down in them. Putting the sods upside down kills the grass and returns the turf to useful soil. This also helps keep the price down.

I reckon you could get away with a much shallower container as peas have small roots, but I haven’t found one yet. Maybe I’ll make one.

To ensure good germination and growing soil, I fill the final third with peat free multi-compost.

Cram the peas in close. They don’t mind this one jot. I sow in rows, 5cm or so apart, with about 3cm in between the seeds. Being this cosy, the plants virtually hold themselves up. To give them a helping hand I stick a few twigs into the soil, pointing across the container at an angle.

Caring for the Plants
They’ll need regular watering, especially once the plants start to flower. The beauty of growing in containers is that I can keep them by my back door, and water whenever I’ve got a few minutes.

Successional Sowings
Sowing seeds every three weeks (snail problems permitting) keeps me in peas throughout Spring and Summer. I also go for an early sowing under a sheet of Perspex, and a quick one in September whilst hoping for an Indian Summer.

Of course, peas are possibly the most suitable veg for freezing, so another idea is to grow loads and loads and loads, stick them in a big bag, and save for the dark Winter time.

They’ll be a welcome burst of summer sweetness alongside all that root veg!

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  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!May 19, 2011 at 3:27 amReply

    Peas all summer long? That would be nice! It gets too hot here for that.

    I’ve heard lots of ideas for the bottom of pots to conserve soil with shallow-rooted plants. My favorite is using big chunks of styrofoam. Not too many places recycle it here, so somebody is always throwing some away.

  2. Jono

    JonoMay 19, 2011 at 8:33 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Alan.

    What sort of temperatures do you get?

    I’ve used styrofoam too. Its the same here; very few places to recycle. I find it helps with drainage too.

  3. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!May 20, 2011 at 6:15 pmReply

    We’re at 26C today, and will start seeing 30′s before too long. Most of July and August is 35-38C.

  4. Claire BensonMay 21, 2011 at 8:58 amReply

    Hi Jono

    Gets too hot in South London too but they are a joy until it gets too hot for them (usually at the end of June is the end of my season).

    I always grow my peas in pots as I do all my edibles and I always get a crop of peas from them. I use smaller containers (purely as I like to grow lots of things in the back garden). My pots are about 15″ deep rectangular plastic pots.

    I have noticed that at the community garden (a garden I support with edible growing advice) that the peas there have already grown pods and are a week or so ahead of mine. We are growing the same varieties there as I am at home as I gave them pea seeds.

  5. CroilaMay 22, 2011 at 8:31 amReply

    I’ve got peas growing both in the ground and in a container so will be interested to see which fare better. THey’re just starting to flower now although they’re still pretty wee. I’ve definitely not perfected the art of successional sowing, maybe cause I’ve got nowhere else to put them. Must keep an eye out for some council containers I think!

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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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