There’s nothing like the flavour of freshly picked peas. Use them as quickly as possible once picked as they lose their sweetness. Dwarf varieties of peas don’t need much in the way of support. The easiest types to grow are mange tout and sugar snap varieties.
Peas are grouped by harvesting time and the shape of the seeds; round peas tend to be hardier than wrinkled varieties.
Water well when the flowering begins and two weeks after. Add a mulch around the base of plants to preserve soil moisture.
Apart from dwarf cultivars, you will need to provide some support for the plants to scramble up. One of the easiest way of supporting taller varieties is adding trellis, bamboo canes and netting. Dwarf varieties can be supported with pea netting or pea sticks (twiggy branches).
After flowering, plants need sufficient water for the pods to swell properly. Check the soil moisture at root level to find out if the plants are getting enough water. Apply a thick mulch after watering to lock moisture into the ground.
Pea moth: This is the caterpillar that you find when shelling your peas. Female moths lay their eggs on peas that are in flower.
Remedy: Early or late peas, flowering outside their flying period, are undamaged, which means March and June sowings. Synthetic pyrethroid insecticides applied a week after the onset of flowering and again two weeks later will give full control, but using a pheromone trap to be sure you are treating at the right time is best. Alternatively grow under insect proof mesh.
Mice: They often eat seeds which are sown directly into the ground.
Remedy: start early crops in pots and transplant. Traps every 2m and shielded from birds, will control mice.
Pigeons: Wood pigeons are often the worst bird pest in gardens and on allotments. They peck at leaves, tearing them, sometimes only leaving the stalks. Pigeons can attack many plants, but particularly brassicas and peas.
Remedy: Shooting can be effective but is often not a safe option in gardens or allotments. Scaring devices or repellent substances are likely to give, at best, only temporary protection. The only certain way of protecting vulnerable plants from pigeons is to grow them under netting.
Powdery mildew: This is a fungal disease of the foliage, stems and occasionally flowers and fruit where a superficial fungal growth covers the surface of the plant.
Remedy: Mulching and watering reduces water stress and helps make plants less prone to infection. Try growing resistant varieties.
By choosing different types and cultivars you can harvest fresh pea pods from June until October. Mange tout and sugar snap varieties are generally the easiest to grow.
Pods are ready to harvest when they are well filled. Pick regularly or the plants stop producing flowers and pods.
Mangetout and sugar snaps peas should be picked when the pods are about 7.5cm (3in) long, just as the peas are starting to develop.