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 is 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 provides so much more bang for the 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!