- Common Name
Peas are part of the legume family of vegetables, which extract nitrogen from the air and store it in little nodules along their roots. For this reason, when the plants finish cropping, dig the roots directly into the soil, where they will slowly decompose and release nitrogen for other plants to use.
Peas are well suited to cooler temperate cliimates.
When to grow
Autumn (October–November) – You can sow peas in October if you use a hardy bean variety such as 'Oregon sugar pod'. You can protect the seedlings from frost by using cloche. Sowing in autumn (if you have a sheltered garden with well drained soil) means an earlier summer harvest of pea shoots and peas in May and June.
You can also sow most varieties of peas in the spring; see details on the seed packet for further information.
How to grow
Indoor – sow the peas in individual pots and when 15cm tall they can be put outside with support. Plant them about 15cm apart. Carefully train the tendrils around the support so that they are encouraged to use them. You can sow peas outside first but they tend to get eaten by slugs before they get started on growing.
Harvest pea shoots for an extra crop. Tender pea shoots are delicious, raw or cooked. When the peas are 10–15cm tall, you can cut off the top two 'levels' of leaves and bring them to the kitchen. Don't cut more than this, though; the stem gets fibrous as it grows and you want to cut the top where it is still tender. The pea plants will grow back, and you can get several harvests out of them for greens.