Planting Peas on an Allotment

We spent the weekend preparing a runner bean frame (more of that later in the week) and planting peas. I’m of the opinion that you’d can’t have too many peas, and my family generally agrees. Okay, you have to pick peas every day, and okay, you then have to pod them (we aren’t nearly so keen on mange-tout) but even so, our current planting of 76 pea plants is nothing. We have another 140 to go. There are about 28 peas on 235, supported by twiggy branches, and on 201, until Sunday, we had 24 peas growing up a bit of fencing. There were another 24 to go into the ground, which is what I did.

Here’s the pea fencing, which is wire mesh stretched between a metal post banged into the ground and the fence. And below the fence, holes made with a bulb dibber, to put the pea plants into.We grew the peas (Meteor) in toilet roll inners – which allows them to have a really good root development before we put them in the ground. Because we have a bit of a rodent problem, there’s virtually no point planting peas or beans directly in the soil, as the mice dig them up and eat them. Any they miss, they dig up as soon as the first true leaves appear! It seems that growing the peas in this way means that the seedling uses up the pea from which it has grown, making the plant much less attractive to mice - although pigeons still have the occasional rampage.

The seedlings are planted on both sides of the fence and are tall enough when planted out to immediately self-twine themselves onto the fencing. The first row had horticultural fleece to protect them for the first week or so that they were in the ground, but now we hope that the fact that the are close to the fence and other structures will mean that if we do get late frosts (still 12 days to go to our last frost date of 2008) they won't be severe enough to damage the peas, even if they reach them.
Back in the greenhouse there are 100 petits pois being grown two to a paper pot – because they are even smaller than Meteor, we can rip the bottom out of their pots and plant them both at once, if both come up, and the spacing will still be about right for petits pois. And then there are another 40 Meteor, which is another two rows of fencing, which should be ready in about two week’s time.

That means that if we do get any really vicious late frosts, horrible weather or insane attacks by mating pigeons on the peas that are already in the ground, all is not lost.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, April 6, 2009


Blogger Lindab said...

Still haven't got my peas sown! But I'm taking comfort from the gardening column in The Times at the weekend which says 'if you live in the North, and the sowing instructions say sow between March and May, go for May every time'. Well, that's my excuse, but I'd still like to have time to harvest something before the light declines again.

Like your frame for the peas to climb up. I think it's the ideal use for my children's old climbing frame.

April 6, 2009 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Z said...

Have you ever tried Sugar Snap peas? They can be eaten whole as the pods don't have that fibrous layer in them, but if you miss some they can also be podded once the peas have grown. I like them much better than mange-tout, though they aren't as good as proper peas.

Mice, pheasants, rabbits, pigeons and small birds in our garden. Everything is started in the greenhouse and then netted when it's planted out.

April 6, 2009 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Linda, I'd agree - peas really suffer if they get a late frost, better to be safe than sorry.

Z, we did, two years ago, but Falco the Cairn terrier ate the whole crop (right down to the stem) as soon as the first pods appeared. And actually although I like sugar snap in a stir fry, my favourite summer activity is always to pick my way along a row of peas, one pod for me, one for the colander ... such luxury!

April 12, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Daz said...

Interesting section about the rodent eating legumes problem.We lost the entire crop before it had even sprouted last year & had been scratching our heads as to why ever since as it was our first year on the allottment.I shall be starting them at home this year.

April 23, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

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