Peas are one of our favourite vegetables and one of the key pieces of advice I read before starting to grow veg was to make sure that you grow what you like. It may sound obvious but it’s very easy to be seduced by the sight of regal purple beetroot adorning the veg plot when in fact you only eat it about once a year. So peas were always near the top of my list of veg that I wanted to grow.
The first challenge was to get my head around varieties. Delve into any seed catalogue and there’s probably more than a dozen to choose from. Some names make it easier than others. Feltham First, for instance, gives a pretty good clue that it’s going to crop early in the season. However, when you’re first starting out, you’re not even sure whether you want an early or a mid-season crop. As luck would have it, I read an article in Gardeners’ World Magazine that was actually about creating a one-foot veg plot, a method whereby you divide your plot into foot squares and grow a different crop in each. Our original veg plot wasn’t very big so the advice in this article seemed ideal and so I sought the varieties of veg it recommended. As a result, we have grown Hurst Green Shaft peas for over ten years now.
One thing I have learnt is that you need to sow far more peas than you possibly think that you need if you’re to have a decent crop. I began sowing them directly at the foot of the stakes but germination was poor, probably down to the mice eating them! I then decided to try growing in large pots and this produced a much better crop but the downside was that all the plants would crop at the same time and that was usually the week we went on holiday! So I decided to return to growing peas in the plot but I needed to improve my succession sowing and achieve a bigger overall crop. I took the approach that I was already doing with beans which was to sow four seeds into four pots every three weeks from the end of March. Generally this meant that as one set were transplanted into the plot, then the next set were sown. This worked fine but still produced a relatively mean meal but now the mean meal was on three occasions rather than just one! This year I was determined to crack it! We would have enough peas per set to produce some of our favourite recipes from just our own stock. So instead of sowing four pots at the start of the season four became eight and hurrah, it has worked! Last month we were able to make Ursula Ferrigno’s wonderful Pasta with Peas from all our own pods! And in early July we followed this with Jamie Oliver’s Pea and Broad Bean salad. Both of which are recipes which I love eating outside on a warm summer’s evening. The latter has pancetta in it but the veggies amongst you could probably leave that out and still have a tasty dish. Leave a comment here if you’d like the recipes!