Gardening is an amazing skill to be learnt, and basic knowledge is picked up simply by doing. If you are a non-green-fingered urban gardener, with a desire to expand your growing knowledge, peas are a simple-grow vegetable to start with. Peas are delicious, very easy to eat, and also require a limited amount of space, perfect for urban spaces!
Pop into your local garden centre, or local farmers market for fresh organic seedlings at a pinch of a price. I swung by my local school gala last weekend in Mt Eden, and grabbed a bundle of fresh seedlings ready to plant for a couple of bucks. Having never growing peas before, I was thrilled with my purchase as I always love learning how to grow a new vegetable.
Both dwarf and climbing varieties of peas are readily available. Climbing peas do just that, they climb, so it is essential to provide material for them to climb on such as a stick with a wire hoop or wire mesh. One meter high is preferable, for optimal growth. If you are planting dwarf peas, support is not essential, but would be helpful, so place sticks next to the plants for support.
In terms of soil, peas prefer warm soil, which is well drained, not damp. They thrive in rich, organic soil which has had compost dug in prior to planting. Planting can occur in spring, autumn or late winter.
Dwarf peas should be planted around 5cm apart, in wide rows 10-15cm apart. Climbing peas however need to be planted next to their support structures, with a row of seedlings on each side. During the growth period, keep the soil moist and ensure weeds do not strangle or suck the nutrients from your peas.
Dwarf plants tend to mature in one go, so to spread out your supply of edible peas, it is a good idea to plant them at intervals, perhaps with a new plant every week or so to ensure you have a consistent supply. When your pea plants mature, pick the peas off every couple of days, as they lose their soft delicate texture quickly.
The main pests to watch out for are birds, and netting can be used to protect the plants during plant growth. When your peas are ready, enjoy! Pop them into a summer salad, or add them to a home made curry, or stir fry. These are a versatile vegetable full of nutrients and deliciousness.
By Holly Jean Brooker
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