Botanical name Pisum sativum
An annual herbaceous climbing or semi-climbing plant, with pale green foliage, curly tendrils, white or purple flowers, and green, yellow or purple pods that contain edible seeds.
Greenfeast, Massey Gem, Golden Podded, Novella, Purple Podded Dutch, Sugar Snap Bush, Telephone Pole, Earlicrop Massey Bush
Planting & care
Sow in autumn and winter in frost-free temperate and subtropical areas, or in spring in cold districts (they are not suited to the tropics). They like sun and protection from wind. Soil must be well drained with plenty of compost or well-aged manure added before planting, and a pH of 6–7 (add lime if below 6). Bush types are relatively self-supporting when sown 10–15cm apart in double rows. Climbing types need a support, such as a bamboo teepee, vertical wires on a fence or plastic mesh stretched between stakes. Sow 3–4 seeds, 3–5cm deep at the base of each teepee pole or wire, or 5cm apart at the base of mesh. Pea seeds rot in constantly wet soils so water in well, then don’t water until they start growing. Insert twigs beside seedlings to guide them to their support. Gradually increase watering as plants get going.
Harvesting & pruning
Pods start to form in about 10 weeks. Peak harvest lasts about three weeks, so plant regularly for a successive harvest. Eat pod and all when young and tender. Pick shelling peas when pods are just plump. Harvest every couple of days and eat at once. Lightly blanch and freeze excess.
Turn to page 70 for pea recipes.