Peas

Peas

Peas growing up a frame

Plant: Spring
Harvest: 12-16 weeks
Sow: Sow in warm soil, 2 inches apart and 2 inches deep.

To successfully grow peas you need a sunny spot, some means of support and nice moist soil. Peas look fantastically lush when they’re growing, with the little white flowers and peapods hanging among the leaves, and they put out lots of thin running twines (a bit like a cucumber) to grasp whatever support you’ve given them.

Once the pods have grown nice and fat, start picking from the bottom of the plant. Like with all plants, regular picking increases production, although I’ve personally never managed to get more than one decent crop out of a pea plant before they wilt. I get around this by planting three batches of plants, a few weeks apart each, and if I end up with a glut then… good! They’re easy to freeze and it means I don’t mind so much about only getting one crop.

Containers:

The first year I grew peas in a container, I bought a round patio planter bag with a three-sectioned frame. It was actually meant for tomatoes but worked perfectly for peas once I’d used string to create a few extra support lines on the frame. Peas grow to about 1 metre high, which was exactly the height of the frame, and I planted 5 plants on each side, so 15 in total.

The first batch was great and looked beautiful on the patio, but as usual (for me anyway, the plants turned yellow and died after the first harvest. Whether this is through overwatering or Fusarium Wilt, I’m not sure – I’ll just have to try them again next year and see.

Storage:

To freeze peas, you need to blanch them first. Prepare a pan of water for boiling, a bowl of cold water and a second bowl of even colder water, with ice in it. You also need a sieve or something, to keep your peas together.

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Put the sieve full of peas into the water and keep it at a boil for 1-2 minutes. Then lift the sieve out and immerse it into the first bowl of cold water. After a few seconds, remove the sieve and put it into the bowl of ice water. Leave it until you’re sure the peas are cold. Once the peas have drained and are drying off, pour them into a freezer bag and whack in the freezer.

I’ve always found chipping the right amount of peas off the frozen lump to be a bit of a pain, so if I can, I try and freeze the peas in portions I’m likely to use in one go, enough for a family dinner say. It appeals to the obsessive in me.

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