I love growing peas. There are so many different ways of incorporating them into an allotment or garden, regardless of space.
When I first took on an allotment, I grew peas in a traditional way, sowing directly in a long straight line. As time progressed and I struggled a little with this method, I began experimenting with other ways of growing peas.
I’ve now harvested peas from my plot, in my garden, and the patio and these are my five favourite ways to grow them.
Up a Wigwam
Last year, I tried peas up a wigwam (pictured above) as space was limited in my garden beds. Using 8 6ft bamboo canes tied together with string, the structure covered 3ft square and I planted 19 pea seedlings around the base. For the space used, the yield was excellent.
I love structures on a plot. I think they add real interest to an otherwise fairly practical space, and I was chuffed with how the wigwams looked.
I grew Telephone peas from Real Seeds, but any pea that grows to 6ft plus will work just fine.
Starting Peas off in Pots
I rarely sow seeds directly any longer, as I find the germination rate much better in pots of multi-purpose compost. One of the problems I had sowing peas directly was a crusty surface, which the pea seeds really didn’t like.
When the pot grown seedlings are a few inches high, I harden them off and then plant out onto the open ground. This gets around the problematic crusty surface germination.
Don’t be shy about putting lots of pea seeds in pots, the seedlings really don’t mind so long as they’re kept watered. I sow 5 or 6 in 5-inch pots (below) and break them up when planting out.
I make four small holes in the bottom of some knackered old Council recycling containers 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, but I’ve also put turf upside down in them. Putting the sods upside down kills the grass and returns the turf to useful soil.
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.
Being container plants, they’ll need regular watering, especially once the plants start to flower.
I’m growing my peas using this traditional method again in my kitchen garden raised beds. I’m interested in using dwarf bean and pea varieties and have bought Kelvedon Wonder and Meteor to try this summer.
I’ve kept aside last year’s raspberry canes and twiggy cuttings from shrubs to give support to the pea plants. They grow to a height of about 3 feet, and I’m planning on planting three or four short rows really close together. They really don’t mind this one jot, and you can sow 15 pea plants in 5 feet row..
Again, this way of growing is especially pleasing on the eye, particularly in a kitchen garden.
Fill a length of guttering with multi-purpose compost, and then sow a row of peas in the soil. Once they’ve germinated, dig a shallow trench where you want the peas to go, and slide the contents of the guttering into the trench.
This is a little fiddly, but well worth it if you have a greenhouse, as you can sow an early variety in Autumn leave to overwinter undercover. With a bit of luck, you’ll get a really early crop the following Spring.