Growing Peas – Garden Peas, Mangetout, Sugar Snap Peas

Growing Peas

Pisum sativum varieties

Since you can buy reasonably priced frozen peas of good quality, it might seem pointless to start growing peas in a small kitchen garden. The justification however  – if you need one – is that some of the modern pea dwarf varieties take up very little space. Good examples are the mangetout (’eat-all’) varieties, or sugar peas, and the newer snap peas. The latter are allowed to thicken up rather like a French bean; they can be eaten pod and all when young, and later like French beans or with the pods and peas sewed separately. Of the two main groups for growing peas, the round-seeded varieties are nowadays used mainly for winter and early spring sowing. Most of the varieties recommended here, however, belong to the wrinkle-seeded group, which have a superior flavour to the round-seeded types.

growing peas First early sowings when you are growing peas, are made in early March and second earlies from mid-April to May; maincrop sowings of ordinary varieties are in, May- June Sugar pea varieties are sown in mid-April to May. Sow the seeds in a flat-bottomed drill (that is, a continuous furrow rather than individual holes). The drill should be 40 mm (1-1/4 in) deep and 150 mm (6 in) wide. The seeds can be sown zig-zag fashion in the drill and spaced 120 mm (4-1/2 in) apart. If you sow more than one drill the space between drills should equal the height to which the variety in question will grow (see list below). Cloches will encourage earlier growth as well as protect the plants against cold weather and bird damage.

growing peas - snap peas Peas thrive in a sunny site and a rich, moisture-retentive soil. If the soil was not well composted for a previous crop, add plenty of compost and allow to settle for a while; sprinkle on a general fertiliser before sowing. Keep the soil moist and weed free. Supports such as pea netting between stakes will be essential for the taller varieties.

Of many pests and diseases that may attack peas, the commonest source of trouble is the caterpillar of the pea moth, especially on the main-crops. The maggot-like caterpillar bores through the pods and into the peas. Spray the plants 10 days or so after they flower (June to mid-August) with a gamma-HCH (BHC) or fenitrothion insecticide; this will also help to control attacks of aphids and thrips.

Harvest green peas as they become ready. The difference between varieties described as ‘first early’, ‘maincrop’, and so on is in the time each requires between sowing and harvesting; first earlies are the quickest-growing Sugar peas are harvested before the peas begin to swell the pods; ‘Sugar Snap’, however, may be cropped then or allowed to mature like an ordinary variety.


Pick the pods regularly when ready, taking care to remove all the pods before they mature; if one or two ripe pods are left on the plants for seeds, the quantity of the crop will be reduced. It is better to grow a few plants separately for seed-saving. Immediately the plants are completely cleared of pods, remove the haulms and put them on the compost heap. If they are left standing and show any signs of mildew, they become a certain source of infection to later varieties. Leave the roots in the soil, as they will provide it with nitrogenous material.


First earlies for sowing in February and the first half of March, and taking about 11 or 12 weeks to mature.

Feltham First, 1-3/4 ft., the earliest variety of all.

Kelvedon Wonder, 4 ft., a heavy cropper.

Meteor, 1-½ ft., a good early, round-seeded variety.

Second earlies for sowing in March and taking about 12 or 13 weeks to mature.

Duplex, 2-½ ft., pods hang in pairs.

Early Onward, 2 ft., like Onward but a week or two earlier. Well-filled, blunt-ended pods.

Onward, 2-½ ft., a remarkable cropper. (The foregoing varieties are recommended for deep-freezing.) Main crop for sowing in April and May and taking about 13 or 14 weeks to mature.

Kelvedon Monarch, 2-½ ft., a wrinkled-seeded, heavy cropper.

Raynes Park, 3 ft., delicious, heavy- cropping; dark green leaves. A Stratagem, 2 ft., produces large pods.

Edible-podded or Sugar Peas

Dwarf Sugar, 2 ft., excellent flavour.

Giant Sugar, 5 ft., also called Pois Mangetout (Two good varieties which can be used whole when young. Both are main-crop types and take about 12 weeks to mature.) Lates for sowing in June or later in favourable seasons, and taking up to 15 weeks to mature.

Alderman, 5 ft., produces very dark green pods.

Gladstone, 4 ft., a good later variety because it withstands drought better than any other variety of pea.


Round-seeded varieties for sowing in October or November in a sheltered spot, such as a sunny border at the ft. of a fence; must be protected with straw or bracken during really severe weather. Sow the seed thickly, as winter losses are inevitably heavy.

Feltham First, 1-½ ft., reliable.

Meteor, similar to Feltham First.

Recommended varieties: Figures given are the approximate heights of the mature plants


(all wrinkle-seeded) ‘Early Onward’ (early maincrop), may be sown successionally, good for freezing, 600-750 mm (24—30 in);

‘Hurst Beagle’ (first early), 450—500 mm (18—20 in);

‘Hurst Green Shaft’ (maincrop), heavy cropper, sweet, good for freezing, 600—750 mm (24—30 in);

‘Kelvedon Wonder’ (first early), may be sown successionally, heavy cropper, good for freezing, 450—500 mm (18—20 in);

‘Little Marvel’ (early), may be sown successionally, good under clothes, 400—500 mm (16 —20 in);

‘Onward’ (maincrop), good cropper, good for freezing, 600—800 mm (24—32 in);

‘Progress No. 9’ (first early), may be sown successionally, 450—600 mm (18—24 in)


‘Dwarf Sweet Green, 600-900 mm (24-36 in);

‘Sugar Snap’, 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft);

‘Tezieravenir, average 800 mm (32 in)

Site: Sunny

Soil: Rich, moist

Sow: Early spring to early summer

Harvest: According to variety

23. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit & Veg, Legumes | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Growing Peas – Garden Peas, Mangetout, Sugar Snap Peas


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