How to grow... Peas
Rocket Growing Guides
Peas are fairly easy to grow as long as they’re in a nice sheltered, sunny spot. They don’t like strong winds. They are a great crop for those short on space as they can be planted close together and will grow happily in pots and containers too.
- Growing Advice
- Common problems
- Chef's Corner
A sunny, sheltered site
Peas grow best in a sunny, well-drained spot. They will tolerate a little light shade. They prefer to grow in moist, fertile soil in a sheltered location away from strong winds. Avoid growing peas in very wet soils.
Perfect for beds, pots & grow bags
Peas are easy to grow in any combination of raised beds, traditional veg plots or medium sized pots/grow bags.
How far apart?
Peas can be grown quite close together, approximately 10cm between plants. If you are growing in pots, you can plant approx 5-6 pea plants to a medium 30cm diameter pot.
Keep them well watered
Try not to let the soil dry out and you will have much better success with peas. If you notice any discolouration in the leaves, that is an indication that they need more water to enable them to access nutrients.
Give them something to climb
Peas put out tendrils, wrapping them around supports as they climb.
Garden Peas & Sugarsnap Peas – ours are dwarf varieties, growing to approx 50cm. Some 50cm high twiggy sticks prodded into the earth will provide good support. Or a 50cm high length of chicken wire, supported at each end by bamboo canes.
Mangetout Peas – ours are taller varieties, often climbing to 2m. A trellis or 2m length of chicken wire supported by bamboo canes at either end will provide them with support. You could also grow them up a wigwam.
When to harvest
Once the flowers appear, keep an eye out for new pods forming. Pick mange tout peas when they reach a medium size for the best crunch and flavour. Sugar snap peas and garden peas will start out as flat pods, and then will swell as the peas inside start to form. Pick them once the pods are nice and round and quite firm. You can eat sugarsnaps whole, but pod garden peas first.
Pinch out mange tout when they get too tall
Mange tout will keep on growing. Once they reach head height, pinch off the top tip. This will prevent the plant from growing up any further, and will encourage side shoots instead.
Slugs & Snails
You’ll quickly see the tell tale signs of nibbled leaves and slime trails if slugs and snails are eating your plants. Set beer traps, put a barrier of natural slug deterrent (broken egg shells, grit etc) around the base of plants, do a dusk slug patrol and keep the plot as free from slug-friendly hiding places as possible. Read more slug tactics
Towards the end of the season you may notice that the foliage takes on a whitish coating – this fungal disease is normal at this time and indicates the end of the pea plant’s harvesting time.
Mice & Birds
Mice and birds quite often nibble at young plants – if they are a problem in your garden, it’s a good idea to protect young plants with netting.
Most discolouration comes from lack of water or nutrients in the soil. We’d recommend watering thoroughly and applying a mulch. You may also find discolouration if peas are exposed to strong winds. Young plants can be covered with a cloche to protect them.
The fresher the better! Pick your peas when you plan to eat them. They will keep for a few days in the fridge, and you can freeze them too. For garden peas, most people pod the, blanche the peas and then freeze them. But you can shortcut and simply freeze them without blanching.
Ways to cook
We really love peas served with a little knob of butter and plenty of freshly chopped mint. Try making a pea pesto if you have a glut, or pea soup is lovely too. Mange tout and sugarsnaps are great for stir fries.