Pea – Mangetout, Dwarf Sweet Green - €1.80
Pea – Mangetout Dwarf Sweet Green is a low crop, which is self supporting and compact. It is an early variety.
Sowing: April to June
Sow directly outside in a well prepared seed bed in trenches 5cm deep and 15cm wide. The seeds should be spaced evenly in the trench about 3-5cm apart.
A single row per bed will facilitate harvesting.
Approx. seed count: 100sds
Related to: Runner beans, French beans, broad beans, clovers.
Botanical classification: Pisum is the classical Latin name for pea, probably derived from the Celtic pis, meaning pea.
Introduction: If you try to get your children interested in vegetable growing, this is the crop to grow. They are so easy to sow and grow. Children love to eat them raw. On the negative side they need a fair amount of attention in regards to training, are prone to pests and diseases, and produce only a relatively small yield for the space they occupy. But all this is worth it for the flavour of a freshly picked garden pea.
History: The earliest record of peas date from 7,000 BC in the Mediterranean region. The ancient Greeks and Romans adored peas and grew them in abundance. The Romans are credited with introducing peas to Northern Europe.
Until the 16th century, peas were eaten dried and ground. The fresh garden peas only became popular in the 17th century.
Types of peas:
There are three types of peas:
Garden pea (or podding pea)
The garden pea is the traditional pea, the one you take the seeds out of the pod. Within this group there are round and wrinkled seeded types, dwarf and tall types, types with coloured flowers and pods, semi-leafless types which have edible tendrils.
The mange-tout types are eaten whole when the pods are still flat. The shells are usually quite thin.
The sugar snap peas are also eaten whole when the pods have swollen (like a normal garden pea) and the shells are usually quite fleshy.
Soil and site: Peas require a sunny and sheltered site. They grow best on a fertile and free draining soil. Good drainage is very important for early crops as the seeds would rot in cold and wet soils.
Rotation: Peas are in the legume family and should be rotated along with them.
Plant care: Dwarf peas need little climbing support. If they are grown in closely spaced double rows they may hold each other up together. Any stragglers could be helped with a short branch.
The tall pea varieties need to be trained up adequately. This can be done with sticks, chicken or sheep fence, or bamboo canes.
Peas, however, find it difficult to climb up bamboo canes, so you should use twigs in between the canes.
Remember: check the height of the variety you grow and erect a high enough frame for the peas.
Harvesting: Peas can be harvested from July until September. The pods should be picked regularly (once or twice a week), so they are still tender. If you do not harvest regularly and allow the plants to ripen the seeds, they will soon stop flowering. So even if you are completely fed up with them they should still be picked if you want your crop to continue.
Storing: Peas are best eaten fresh. If you have too many, you can blanch and freeze them for the winter months.
Potential Problems: Mice can be a big problem, especially when they find the newly planted delicious seeds.
The main disease is powdery mildew. The leaves and pods develop a sticky grey-white substance. Peas will probably always develop this disease in the late summer, but as I said above, if you grow the variety Greenshaft you will have much less of a problem. With good cultural practices (rotation, good healthy fertile soil, healthy seeds, resistant varieties) these problems can be overcome.
How much to grow? A 4m bed of peas will yield about 4 to 6 kg of peas.
Greenshaft (the one and only!)
Carouby de Maussane (very tall, purple flowers), Shiraz, Dwarf Sweet Green
Sugar snap (round podded, 1.5m tall)