Peas and beans are very popular vegetables, which for convenience can be grouped together in one of the plots in the kitchen garden. Peas are hardy, and the first sowings can be made as early as February in the open, successive sowings being made at intervals of two or three weeks from then until June. An easy way to cultivate peas in a small garden is to sow a wide row of the dwarf variety, which need no pea sticks. The soil must be good, and manure in the underlayer to hold moisture in dry weather is an advantage. Take out with a spade a shallow trench 6 in. deep and the width of the spade and scatter the pea seeds over the bottom, about 2 or 3 in. apart. Then draw about 2 in. of soil over them, leaving them in the shallow trench to grow to maturity. This diverts the maximum amount of rainfall to the plants. If any support is necessary, give it by running a line of string or wire along each side of the peas, about 6 in. from the ground level. The trench should have a flat bottom.
Peas grown for exhibition must be sown more carefully. For these drills are drawn, and the peas sown 3 or 4 in. apart in a single or double line. Pea sticks must be provided immediately, so that the tender seedlings, as they push through the soil, are protected a little from winds.
Occasional watering may be necessary, as the finest peas cannot be grown where moisture is lacking. Liquid manure given every fortnight or so after watering, beginning when the peas are showing their first flower buds, will prove of great benefit. Any general fertilizer can be used for this. Gather the pods immediately the them, not before the pod is full, but well before the skins toughen.
They should then be at their best both in quantity and flavour. As soon as the last peas are gathered, cut down the tops and throw them in the compost pit, leaving the roots to be dug into the ground. There are numerous varieties of peas, dwarfs, medium and tall growers, and the
stringless peas known as sugar peas. These last are gathered younger than usual, and are eaten without shelling, as the pods have none of the stringy lining common in the other peas. Culture is otherwise the same.
Beans are of two distinct types. Broad beans are hardy beans that will stand the winter in the open. They are best sown in November, as the beans so sown generally reach maturity before the appearance of black fly, which is one of the great curses of this crop. It attacks the tender growing tips of the plants. As soon as the flowers are well open on the plants the growing tip should be pinched out, and in this way the fly will be discouraged. Spring sown beans are often badly attacked before they have had time to reach the fruiting stage, but frequent sprayings with insecticide will ward off the pest.
Broad beans are sown in a shallow trench 3 in. deep, with the seeds in a double row, about 5 in. apart. Leave 3 or 4 ft. between the rows if more than one row is sown.