Garden Pea ' Express-le-Genereux' - Seed
Peas require no prior treatment although you could steep them in lukewarm water for 24 hours to encourage germination. Leaving them in water for longer (3-4 days) will see them shoot a 1 cm root, after which you really must sow them. Harvesting will be one week earlier if you do this.Sowing
Germination will take up to 14 days. You can sow your peas in various ways:
1. Directly in the garden, full sun, March and April. Loosen the soil with a fork up to 30 cm deep. There should be NO fresh manure in the soil and it should not be too damp or cold. Improving the soil with humus (manure free compost) could help. Draw a 4 cm deep furrow along a string stretched from end to end of a row and plant 1 pea every 10 cm. Cover the pea to about 4 or 5 cm, press lightly down and sprinkle with water. Label your rows with the variety. Planting distance between rows is 70 cm. A well anchored fleece tunnel will protect the seedlings from birds.
2. Encourage early germination (and spoil the birds' chances of stealing your seedlings) by starting them off indoors. Sow 1 pea per pot in February, in pots filled with fine potting compost and cover to a max. depth of 3 cm. Press firmly down and sprinkle with water. Stand the pots at room temperature in the light. If they threaten to grow too large before they can go outdoors (too cold!), stand them in a cooler spot. Do not allow to dry out. Allow enough space between plants so that the leaves are almost touching. They can go outdoors from March, after being hardened off ( outdoors in the shade, one hour longer each day for 5 days). Plant 10 cm apart in rows 70 cm apart.
Pea varieties are selected for the peas, the pods are not edible. The reverse is also true - mange tout are selected for the tasty pod, tender and free of thread. Pea pods do therefore tend to have a 'thread'. Biologically speaking though, peas and mange tout are basically the same.
There are 2 kinds of pea: wrinkled and round. Wrinkled varieties are sown in March-April. They have a sweeter taste and do not mind the early summer heat. The round-seeded peas can be sown very early (February –March) and have an aromatic flavour
Medium and tall varieties bring a greater yield than dwarf varieties and involve a little more work.
Freshly picked and shelled peas taste better eaten fresh although a couple of days in the fridge will do no harm. Boil or steam your peas and eat with potato, rice or pasta. Do not cook for too long as they taste better whilst still firm. A wok is handy for cooking peas too! Taste some raw, freshly harvested peas – lovely and sweet! Peas can also be deep frozen.
Earth up your pea plants when they reach 12 cm in height. Tall and medium height pea varieties require a climbing support. To do this, insert a pole at both ends of a row and span large gauge chicken wire between the poles - as high as 1.2 metres for medium height and 2.0 metres for taller ones. The pea's tendrils will attach themselves and climb up. Tip: place the chicken wire before sowing your peas!
Provide extra water in dry periods only and keep the bed free of weed to encourage your peas to thrive.
When harvesting your peas use both hands. Only using one hand can result in causing damage to the plant.
Peas should be harvested when they show through the pod. Most people prefer young, small peas as these are the most tender and tasty and you can also use the pods. When the season is full on, you must harvest at least once a week then shell the pods to get all your peas. Once all the peas are harvested and there are no longer any flowers the plants can be dug up.