By MEREDITH KIRTON
Peas (Pisum sativum) are perhaps the most commonly eaten green vegetable, but mostly from the frozen food section of your supermarket. The shame of this is not only how delicious fresh peas are, but also because growing peas is one of the kindest things you can do for your garden’s soil. And that doesn’t even touch on the socially enriching time that shelling peas together around the kitchen table can be!
Peas seem to celebrate spring. They are fast growing, very pretty with either white or purple flowers, nutritious and can be eaten fresh or cooked in a wide range of cuisines from salads to stir fries or with the Sunday roast. Even the new growth is edible and peas can even be sown on a windowsill for pea sprouts fresh year round.
Peas are normally sown in autumn or winter, but can be sown into early spring in cold areas like Tasmania and even into summer in areas where it doesn’t get too hot. You plant they seeds directly where they grow every 5cm or so and then gently firm them down into the soil. Dwarf peas don’t need any support so are ideal for pots and hanging baskets, but taller growing peas will generally need 1.5m tall stakes to help support them, and if possible run this north to south so they get the most sun possible.
Peas take about 8-10 weeks to start cropping, and the more you pick the more you get, so pick regularly. At the end of your pea season, dig your pea stalks back into the ground and you’ll enrich your soil with not only organic matter, but also nitrogen, as peas have a magical way of using special nodules on their roots to take nitrogen from the air and turn it into a plant useable form.
Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS