These vegetables need well-drained soil which is not at all acidic. Should a soil test show acidity, apply lime (ground chalk) at the rate of from 4 to 1 lb. Per square yard after winter digging. Simply sprinkle the lime over the dug soil. No manure or garden compost need be applied to the sites where peas and beans are to grow. Choose a site which was enriched with manure or garden compost for a different crop grown in the previous summer. Land in which potatoes or winter cabbage was grown is suitable.
Sorts of Peas
There are two main groups of garden peas. Hardiest are round-seeded; slightly less hardy but with a reputation for their superior flavour are varieties with wrinkled seeds. These are known as ‘marrow-fats’. There are many different pea varieties. These are divided into three sections: First Early; Second Early; Maincrop.
- FIRST EARLY. Late October: in colder parts cover the row with cloches and keep cloches in position until late April. Early February: in large pots in a warm greenhouse. March: outdoors or under cloches. Remove cloches in late April. Early April: outdoors. Late June: outdoors and always keep well-watered in dry weather.
- SECOND EARLY. April: outdoors.
- MAINCROP. Late April/May: outdoors. Some Popular Garden Peas The height given is the average for the plant.
- FIRST EARLY: Early Bird 1 ½ ft; Feltham First 1 ½ ft; Foremost 3 ft; Forward 2 ft; Gradus 3 ft; Hurst Beagle 1 ½ ft; Kelvedon Viscount 2 ft; Kelvedon Wonder (q.f.) 1 ½ ft; Little Marvel (q.f.) 1 ft; Meteor 1 ½ ft; Pilot 3 ft; Progress 1 ½ ft; Sleaford Phoenix 1 ½ ft – Sweetness 3 ft; Toperop (q.f.) 2 ½ ft.
- SECOND EARLY: Achievement 5 ft; Early Onward (q.f.) 2 ft – Giant Stride 2 ft; Kelvedon Climax 2 ½ ft; Kelvedon Monarch (q.f.) 2 ½ ft; Kelvedon Spitfire 2 ft; Shasta (q.f.) 2 ½ ft; Show Perfection (q.f.) 5 ft.
- MAINCROP : Alderman 5 ft; Histon Kingsize 31 ft – Histon Maincrop 2 ½ ft; Lincoln 2 ft; Lord Chancellor 3 ft; Onward (q.f.) 2 ft; Recette (q.f.) 2 ft.
q.f.= Suitable for the quick-freeze, should you have a surplus.
How to Sow
Garden peas are sown where the plants are to grow. Before sowing rake the soil surface level, removing all large stones and clods. A popular way of sowing peas is to take out an 8-in, wide furrow, using a draw hoe. Use a garden line to have a straight row and make the furrow no more than 1 in. deep in heavier soils; 2 in. deep, but no more, in light soils. Should the soil not be wet, flood the furrow with water. Start sowing after the water has drained away. Pea seeds are quite large. Sprinkle them fairly evenly on to the flat bottom of the furrow so that each seed is about 2 ½ in. from the next. After sowing use a rake to draw soil over the seeds and to fill the furrow at the same time gently firming the soil.
- Some birds will take pea seeds and will hunt for them after they have been sown; other birds peck at pea seedlings. Cloches give automatic protection against bird attacks. For open garden sowings, several strands of black cotton stretched around and over the rows immediately after sowing provide full protection. Secure the cotton to short bamboo canes on either side of the rows.
- A rough, ready and fairly accurate guide to the distance between rows is to space them to the height of the variety.
- Do not waste large spaces between pea rows; grow lettuces or various members of the cabbage tribe in them.
Where black cotton is used to prevent bird damage the cotton also serves as an excellent support for short growing (dwarf) peas. For varieties growing taller than 3 ft. augment the black cotton with brushwood or with strings tied to tall canes. Hoe between rows to prevent weeds. Pull out weeds growing in the rows by hand when the pea plants are young. In dry weather water often and water well. Pea plants which are short of water are prone to several disorders. The worst pest of garden peas is the pea moth. This is attracted to pea plants weakened by lack of moisture at the roots. Mulching pea rows with straw can reduce the amount of watering necessary in hot, dry summer weather.
Pick pods before they are drum-tight and cook the peas as soon as possible. Peas quickly lose their sugary flavour after harvesting. Pick peas regularly.