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Sugar snap peas score top marks for taste and texture. As with so many crops, home-grown sugar snaps are much sweeter and juicier than anything you can buy in a shop. You can grow them in large containers as well as in beds, as long as they're kept well watered. A fairly sheltered spot in full or part sun will suit them best. It's a good idea to make several sowings at two or three week intervals, to increase the potential harvesting period.
For early crops, sow seed indoors now in pots or cells. Transplant into the garden when the seedlings are about 12-15cm high. This helps reduce damage from slugs, snails and pigeons.
When weather is warmer, sow every two to three weeks directly into well-prepared soil, 5cm deep. A flat trench, dug in a line or a circle, works well.
Where space is at a premium, growing plants in a circle allows them to be trained up a tepee of cane and chicken wire mesh. The mesh keeps young plants close to the supports, making it easier for them to climb, and keeps the pigeons away.
Sugar snap peas become stringy and tough if left too long, so pick as soon as they start to plump up and make a satisfying snap when bent. Hold the stem as you remove each pod to reduce the risk of damage to the plant.
Harden off peas before planting out. Whether raised in a greenhouse or bought as plants, this will reduce the risk of a sudden check in their growth.
Don’t sow early seeds direct into very wet or cold soil. Cover the area with black polythene sheeting, or a cloche to help warm it and keep off excessive rain.
Water regularly as peas need a moist soil if they are to produce a heavy crop. In a drier garden, you should consider mulching the soil to conserve moisture.