Tasty Spring Fresh Snap Peas
Peas can be grown throughout Australia in the cool months, and with both dwarf and tall-growing varieties available, peas are pod-perfect for any size garden.
Follow Graham’s tips for success.
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Peas grow best in well-drained soil with added compost to improve nutrition and drainage. In heavy soils aged manures and compost provide sufficient organic material to break-up the clay. In sandy soils the extra organic matter will help bind the soil together. Apply a light dusting of lime to reduce soil acidity, a must for peas.
A complete organic granular fertiliser, such as Kik Start, should be mixed into the soil before planting seeds. This can be incorporated into shallow trenches alongside where the peas will grow to avoid direct contact with young roots. Peas produce their own nitrogen on the roots so don’t over-feed plants.
Peas require full sun for a minimum of six hours every day to grow, flower and fruit well.
Peas can be grown in all climates and you need a plenty of vines to obtain a good harvest. If you live in a warm area sow your seeds between March and July. In temperate regions sow from February to August, and in cold areas avoid frost damage to flowers and pods by sow seeds between September and October.
Seeds should be sown into moist soil and not watered again until seedlings are 7-10cm tall. Root rot from over-watering is common.
Sow seeds to a depth of 5-7cm, no deeper, and spaced 10cm apart with rows 45-90cm apart.
Re-sow seeds at 2-3 week intervals.
Pests and Disease
Few disease or insects trouble peas. Fungi, such as mildew, may attack both the leaves and pods during warm humid weather. Sprays of Mancozeb or wettable sulphur will easily control this problem. During hot dry weather red spider mite can be a major pest but can be controlled naturally with regular applications of Natrasoap, PestOil or Eco-Oil.
Watering plants with seaweed solutions during sunny weather improves disease resistance.
Tips & Tricks
Dust seeds with a fungicide before sowing to reduce diseases at germination time.
Protect young seedlings from birds.
Dwarf peas need either a small hardwood timber, not bamboo, tripod or short trellis support to fruit well.
Tall peas can be grown on wire or twine stretched between stakes, along a fence or up tomato stake tripod to produce more pods over a longer season. Erect climbing frame before sowing seed.
Keep competitive weeds at bay with regular cultivation around plants
Balcony gardeners can grow peas in a 20cm wide terracotta pot with supports for climbers.
Earlicrop matures earlier than most and is much sought after by home gardeners as it bears good crops on strong bushes 1m tall.
There are dwarf Snow Peas with edible pods 90cm tall.
Greenfeast is a popular, heavy producer of well-filled very tasty pods on a 1.5m vine.
Telephone is a vigorous variety needing netting to 2m and producing very large pods over a long period.
Sugar Snap is a popular pea eaten pod and all with a vigorous 2m tall, heavy cropping vine producing over many months.
Climbing Snow Peas produce big crops of crunchy, sweet, nutty-flavoured pods with small seeds, eaten pod and all and ideal for Chinese cooking.
Harvest and storage
Harvest pea pods once they are ‘full’ and before veining appears on the pods. Peas can be kept in the crisper of the refrigerator for two weeks or peeled, blanched for a minute and frozen.