If you read my post from last week about vegetables to grow in a small garden, you'll know how I like to rave about home-grown peas. They are ridiculously easy to grow in the early stages, and with a bit of TLC they can produce succulent green pods filled with delight over the summer months.Start off by planting your seeds into modules of compost; this year I've planted Duchy Originals peas after previous success with this company. Make sure the seeds are covered with compost and water well. Starting them off in a greenhouse or polytunnel is best, although we had some luck on a warm windowsill in our first year. They should be watered every few days, more if it is exceptionally hot for the time of year, and you should see growth within the first few days. Leave the plants in the warm place until all chance of frost has disappeared (late May / early June here in Lincolnshire).
The next stage involves leaving the pea plants outside during the day, and bringing them in at night - hardening off. Do this for about a week until you are ready for them in your vegetable bed. By this point, I have usually gathered twigs and branches of a similar width and length (see images above) to provide support for the pea plants - push one into the soil for each plant. Water well and cover with netting or chicken wire if you suffer from greedy pigeons as we do.
The key to growing peas is to plant them over a period of a month or so; this ensures a constant supply and means that you're not podding for a whole day at a time (we fell foul to this in our first year). However, if you do find yourself with a surplus, fear not; they freeze excellently and you simply need to blanch them first. For this you should put the peas into a saucepan and just cover with cold water. Put on a high heat and remove from the hob just after the water begins to boil. Then sieve the peas and put straight into a bowl of cold water; they should remain in here until cool and then should be dried on a tea towel or kitchen roll before freezing in bags. It's worth the effort and is easier than it sounds!
Eleanor is obsessed with stories. She writes for a number of online spaces including This is Your Kingdom, edits Creative Countryside, curates #aseasonalyear and teaches at Chalk House. In addition, she is currently studying for an MA in Creative Non-Fiction Writing. You'll find her roving the fields of the Lincolnshire Wolds or planning her next rural adventure.