For the most part, growing peas (any type – sugarsnap/mangetout/garden) is fairly simple, but there are one or two things worth knowing before you plant yours this spring.
The right conditions:
Peas like shelter, sun and warmth, especially when they are still young and vulnerable, so try to find a suitable spot before you plant them. They don’t tend to do well in strong winds, so if your plot is very exposed then it’s a good idea to plant them out a little later once any of those bitter winds of early spring have passed.
You can plant peas fairly close together at approx 10cm apart. They will scramble as they grow, using their tendrils to find and cling on to a support. Our sugarsnap and garden pea varieties are dwarf varieties, so will not grow much taller than 40 or 50cm. For these dwarf peas, some twiggy sticks (approx 50cm long) prodded in the soil is all they really need for support. Our mange tout peas are taller plants, and will keep on growing to above head height. For these we’d recommend making a tall fence-like frame using bamboo and chicken wire. Just weave two tall bamboo canes along either side of a 2m length of chicken wire, and then prod the bamboo canes into the soil at the ends of the row to make a quick support.
Peas are thirsty plants so it’s important to keep them well watered in the early days when they are establishing their roots. Once they are a little more mature you can relax a little and just keep them watered frequently during dry spells.
Mice love young pea shoots, so be careful! Other than that, one of the main things to watch out for is nutrient deficiency – you’ll spot this by discolouration of the foliage. Usually it can be quickly remedied by applying a liquid feed and making sure the plants have adequate water. Towards the end of their fruiting you may notice mildew on the leaves – this is normal and a sign that the plant has fulfilled its duty!