Page 21 - ALG Issue 2 20202
P. 21

   Pea Masterclass
This is one of my favourite vegetables, delicious picked and eaten fresh from the pods whilst walking around the plot. Although easy to grow some plotholders struggle. Here are my tips for success:
1. Peas can be sown at several times of year. For autumn sowing, sow Pea Meteor or Douce Provence in October or November direct into the vegetable plot, for that first pick next spring.
2. Early spring sowings can be made in February to March in modular trays, sowing 2-3 seeds per cell. These can be planted out as clusters of 2-3 seedlings, spaced 10-15cm (4-6in) apart once soil conditions allow.
3. Alternatively, very early sowings can be made in February or March into a length of plastic gutter and then planted out against wires. Simply slide the contents of the gutter into a shallow drill made in the plot and gently firm in place.
4. Outdoor sowings made direct in the plot can be done from late March (weather permitting) starting with an early variety, followed by a main crop variety. Main crop peas take approximately 12-14 weeks from sowing to harvesting.
5. For very late sowings, these can be made in early to mid-July. For this use Pea Terrain as this has good mildew resistance and will crop into the autumn.
6. Peas sown direct outside can be sown into double seed drills. These can be pulled out with a swan neck hoe approximately 5cm (2in) deep, with each drill spaced 30cm (12in) apart. Then a wire support can be placed in between the 2 rows and peas can climb each side.
7. Protect seeds sown outside to prevent birds or mice having an early feed. Bird protection is also advisable as the plants grow to prevent any damage to developing shoots.
8. Even shorter varieties of peas will benefit from some support to enable them to climb. If crop becomes heavy, extra support from strings may be required to hold the crop in place.
9. The worst pest that affects mature crops is Pea Moth causing maggots within the pods; spray with a suitable chemical 7 days after flowering to help prevent this. Pea moth is rarely a problem on very early or autumn sown crops. Growing crops under enviromesh will also help prevent this pest from laying its eggs.
10. HarvestMangetoutandSnappeaswhilststillyoungandtender. Harvest shelling peas when young so that the peas are sweet and tender. Peas are one crop that, if you have surplus, can be put in the freezer and they come out and taste just as good as they did when eaten fresh.
11. Althoughpeasdofreezewell,togetthesweetestflavour,they require picking young and cooking within 30 minutes of harvest before the sugar has changed to starch.
12. Diginoldpearootsasthesewillhavemadenitrogenfixingnodules on their roots which will benefit the crop that next takes up this space.
   Allotment and Leisure Gardener 21

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