Open pod of peas in hand

Fact File: peas

Find out more about peas and how to grow them, in this Fact File.

Overview

Peas are a fantastic space-saving crop as they take up very little space, growing upwards with support. With a choice of first early, second early and maincrop varieties, they can be sown from autumn through to summer, providing you with a continuous crop of delicious, sweet peas from May to September. Versatile, some varieties can also be grown in large pots.

Advertisement
The sugars in peas quickly turn to starch so it’s important to eat them as soon after harvesting as you can, for the sweetest flavour

For full details on raising your own crop, take a look at our peas Grow Guide.

Did you know…

Peas have been around since 4800BC, and have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs. The original English name for a pea was pease – as in pease pudding – but it was later shortened.

Nutrition

Peas have good levels of vitamins A, B1 and C, plus folate and the minerals iron and calcium. They’re also high in protein and fibre.

How to grow

A hungry and thirsty crop, peas do best on good soil improved with well-rotted compost or manure. Choose a site in sun or part shade, ideally with some shelter from the wind as mature plants can become top-heavy. Make a wide drill using a rake or draw hoe and water the drill before sowing the seeds in a double or triple row. Add stout supports such as twiggy sticks, trellis or a frame with netting, before or soon after sowing. During dry spells, especially from flowering onwards, keep plants watered and mulch the soil to retain moisture.

Sowing pea seeds in the soil
Sowing pea seeds in the soil

Harvest

Pick garden peas when peas are visibly swollen in the pods. Harvest mangetout varieties just when you first see small peas developing inside, and when they ‘snap’ off readily. Like all members of the pea and bean family, the sugars in the peas quickly turn to starch so it’s important to eat them as soon after harvesting as you can, for the sweetest flavour.

Harvesting peas
Harvesting peas

How to store

Blanch and freeze as quickly as possible after picking, before the sugars turn to starch.

Varieties to try

‘Alderman’: maincrop, tall and heavy-cropping
‘Kelvedon Wonder’ (AGM): short, first early. Very hardy, sow in autumn or spring.
‘Shiraz’: good-looking, tall mangetout, bicoloured flowers and purple pods.

Flowering peas
Flowering peas

Pea recipe ideas

Pea risotto

Pea-camole

Pilau with peas

Advertisement

Pea and mint soup