Name: pea, Pisum sativum varieties.
Height: depends on variety, but ranges from about 30cm to 2m.
Foliage: evergreen but lives for less than one year.
Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid, sub-tropical.
Soil: prefers deep, well-drained soil with added organic matter.
Position: full sun.
Flowering and fruiting: white flowers followed by green pods.
Feeding: avoid feeding, just add well-rotted organic matter before planting.
Watering: plants should be kept damp, but not wet.
The edible pea is a short-lived plant that grows as a climber. It is generally grown throughout the cooler months and has dull green leaves, some of which hug the plant stems. Flowers are usually white, but pink and purple forms also occur.
The pea is a popular plant for the vegetable garden. The common edible pea produces a pod that is filled with the familiar round green edible seeds. There is also the snow pea form, which produces a flat edible pod with no seeds and is particularly popular in Asian stir-fries. Sugar snap peas are similar in that they produce an edible pod without seeds, but their pods tend to be somewhat rounder.
Keep the soil around your pea just damp—letting it get too wet can lead to problems. Also avoid wetting the foliage, as this can provide the perfect conditions for fungus diseases.
It is best not to feed your pea, as it may end up producing foliage at the expense of fruit.
Sometimes peas are affected by powdery mildew, a fungus disease that grows a white powder over the foliage. This can be reduced by growing your plant in sunny and airy positions, and by avoiding wetting the leaves. Planting at the recommended spacing also reduces overcrowding. Powdery mildew can be controlled with a garden fungicide if it occurs.
Very young pea shoots are sometimes attacked by aphids. Plants are also sometimes the victims of whiteflies and thrips. All these sap-sucking insects can be controlled with garden insecticides.
Peas are propagated from seeds. A range of seeds and seedlings are available to purchase, but if you would like to try collecting your own seeds, just leave the pods on the vine until they dry up at the very end of the season. Collect these and shell the peas into a labelled paper bag, then keep them in a moisture-free spot for next season. It is important that the peas are completely dry when saved, and that they are kept dry, to ensure they don’t rot.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
Mint: grow this reliable herb to flavour your peas.
Potatoes: a traditional tuberous and productive vegetable with so many uses.
Beans: this perfect accompaniment to peas is also easy to grow.