Peas are excellent summer crops, which need a deeply cultivated soil. The first crop should be sown on light soil in a sunny, sheltered spot, in February. On heavy soil, however, this sowing should be left till March. Successional crops may be sown up to Juno.
The seeds should be sown thinly in broad drills. These should be 2 ½ inches deep, and the seeds should be placed 1 ½ inches apart. The distance between the drills should be the same as the height of the plants. That is to say, if the variety is 2 feet high, the distance between the drills should be 2 feet, and so on.
It will be necessary to stake the plants and for this tree twigs are best, but if these are unobtainable, wires may be stretched across the rows and the plants trained to these.
The crop takes about four months to come to maturity. The pods should be picked when they are filled with peas, but they should not be allowed to get ripe, as the peas will got hard and lose their flavour.
Care should be taken when picking, for should the plants be damaged, the half-formed pods, which form the next picking, will be checked. The best method is to take the stems in the left hand and pull the pods off with the right.
Some of the best varieties for the amateurs garden are : FIRST EARLY:
Excelsior. Little Marvel.
Superb. Verdant Green.
Admiral Bealty. Fillbasket.
Duke of Albany. Stratagem.
Dwarf Defiance. Telegraph.
MAIN CROP AND LATE VARIETIES: Alderman. Quite Content.
Autocrat. Boyal Salute.
Gladstone. Yeitclis Perfection.
HOW TO GROW PEAS including petit pois and sugar peas (mangetout)
Sowing to harvest time: 32 weeks for autumn sowings; 11 to 16 weeks for spring sowings.
Yield: 3 to 7kg (6.5 to 151b) to a 3m (10ft) row, depending on the variety and whether it is dwarf or tall.
Climate preferred: Cool temperate.
Soil: Well-drained and rich in organic matter.
The common peas come in two distinct types. There are round varieties which are very handy and the quickest of all peas to mature. Then there are the wrinkle-seeded peas which are considerably sweeter and heavier cropping. The French varieties of wrinkle-seeded pea are known as petit pois. Finally there are the sugar pea varieties or, as they are appropriately called in France, mangetout which are eaten pods and all.
Sowing and planting
The soil should be enriched with compost during the digging of autumn or early winter and limed if necessary, since peas prefer an alkaline soil. About a week before sowing give the soil a dressing of vegetable fertilizer at the rate of lOOgm per sqm (3 oz per sq yd) and rake the soil backwards and for-wards to make it fine and crumbly.
To obtain a crop of peas in late spring and early summer, you should sowaround variety ineithermid-or late autumn and cover with cloches. For peas in early and midsummer, sow an early variety of wrinkle-seeded pea in early or mid-spring. For peas in late summer, sow a maincrop wrinkled variety in mid- or late spring. This is also the time to sow both petit pois and sugar peas.
For peas in early autumn, sow a wrinkled variety in early or midsummer. The technique of sowing peas is the same for all varieties. Newly sown seeds, unless covered with cloches, should be protected with plastic netting or wire netting guards. Hoe the soil regularly to keep it open and crumbly and to keep it free from weeds. When the pea plants are 15 cm (6 in) high, insert twiggy branches along the outer sides of the drills to provide support.
Dwarf varieties will not require any further assistance, but medium and tall varieties, especially those of sugar peas, will require plastic or wire netting erected close to the plants for support. When the flowers appear, spray in the evenings with an insecticide to combat the pea moth and so prevent maggoty peas. As soon as the pods form, top dress the soil on either side of the plants with vegetable fertilizer at the rate of 34gm per sq m (1 oz per sq yd) and hoe in lightly. Water well during dry spells to swell the pods.
Pests and diseases
Aphids, birds and pea moths.
Moving upwards from the bottom of the plants, pick the pods when they appear well filled. The sugar peas should be picked when the pods are fleshy, but before the shape of the peas can be seen in the pods. Store by freezing.