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 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 quick sharp, and this is what worked for me:
Choose the Right 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.
Pick Your Soil Before You Plant
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 is 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.
Start Sowing 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.
Care for the Plants for Great Peas
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.
Sowing seeds every three weeks (snail problems permitting) keeps me in peas throughout Spring and Summer. I also go for early sowing under a sheet of Perspex, and a quick one in September whilst hoping for an Indian Summer.
Freeze the Peas
Of course, peas are possibly the most suitable vegetable for freezing, so another idea is to grow loads and loads and loads, stick them in a big bag, and save for the dark Wintertime.
They’ll be a welcome burst of summer sweetness alongside all that root veg!