Pea Plants

Hardy pea varieties are perfect for sowing in the autumn for an early crop, others are perfect for containers and some will even withstand a light frost. Varieties also stretch to semi-leafless for easy picking and mildew-resistant plants. All, however, have a wonderfully sweet taste when freshly picked and the mangetouts make for an excellent stir fry ingredient.

Organic pea plants - a quick guide

If you’re new to growing peas or would like to recap on some of the basics, read our short guide to growing delicious organic peas at home and on your allotment.

When to plant garden peas

For a summer harvest of sweet, delicious peas, plant your plug plants as early as February; as long as the weather conditions permit and the soil temperature is 10C or more, your peas should grow well in cool spring conditions. Peas are usually ready to pick between June and October, but if you’d like to guarantee an early summer crop, you can always try planting pea seeds in the autumn and over-wintering them indoors, ready to go out as soon as the weather warms.

How to plant peas

When planting indoor reared pea plants, wait until they’re a good size, approx 6 to 8 inches, before hardening them off and planting out. Only plant these young plants when the weather has warmed a little – from March onwards. Plant shorter varieties in a triple row 3 inches apart, using short canes or bits of stick for the plants to scrabble up. For taller varieties, plant 3 inches apart in rows at least 1 foot apart, using a lattice, strong canes strung with wire or other plant supports for your peas to climb.

Trouble-shooting peas

Mice love peas and beans, but you can protect your seeds and seedlings with a sprinkle of chilli, hot paprika or holly bush prunings. Planting your peas in containers and raising them up off the ground, especially on top of a couple of overturned buckets, will also help deter little rodents. Other pests include slugs and snails, and pea weevils, which do superficial damage to leaves. Pigeons and pea moths can do significant damage from the air, with the moths' larvae eating your crop from inside the pod, only revealing themselves when you come to shell your lovely peas. Horticultural fleece helps deal with both these scourges of the air.