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Are you growing peas this year? Autumn/Winter is the best time to plant them in Perth. They don't produce in weather above 27°c; and are very happy in temperatures in the low 20's.
Peas are generally fairly easy to grow - whether from seed, or you buy established seedlings. They need sunlight and good airflow, as they can be susceptible to fungal disease. A spot that gets winter sun all day is best. Give them a trelis or fence to grow against, giving the plants support as they grow. Treat any signs of leaf spot/fungal disease quickly with a natural product like garlic spray and remove infected leaves. Don't leave them on the ground as infection can spread. Avoid overhead watering, and if necessary thin your plants for improved airflow.
There are two main types of peas - the garden pea; usually grown to maturity and shelled from a lovely, fat pod. And podded peas; like snow peas or sugar snap peas, where the whole pod is eaten. Both are worth growing, if you haven't tried! Different varieties have slightly different growth habits - some may only reach 1 - 1.5 metres; others - like telephone peas - will climb almost as high as 'telephone wires' - (well, I'm assuming that's how they got their name). Most types are labelled 'bush' or 'climbing' varieties, so consider where you have got room to let them climb. Peas produce their own tendrils to curl around their supports; you can train them as necessary, but you shouldn't have to use ties to hold them up.
If growing from seed, you can soak the seed overnight in warm water - but it isn't essential. Pre-soaking helps soften the hard skin allowing them to germinate more quickly. Sow seeds about 2-3cms deep, and about 10cms apart. (Remember - you can thin them later if you need to, and not all seeds may survive or germinate anyway - so thick sowing will cover more bases.) Germination should occur within a week or two.
Watch young tender seedlings for slugs, snails & slater damage. Rings (cut down containers or cardboard tubes) around each emerging seedling may help with this.
Peas (like beans) have the ability to access and convert atmospheric nitrogen to 'feed themselves' to a degree - so you don't need to plant them into overly fertile soil. Growing them after hungry feeders (like tomatoes, or leafy greens for example) is fine. You can lightly improve soil prior to planting but there's no need to go all-out. Peas like good drainage, and regular watering if the rains aren't forthcoming. While you can grow peas in a pot - generally they do better in the ground. If a container is the way you're going; make sure it is a decent size and not too shallow. Pots will need to be watered regularly as they tend to dry out faster than in-ground plantings.
Kids generally love home grown peas. You may not be able to get them to eat frozen peas off a dinner plate, but I guarantee you will most likely be battling to get fresh peas into the house, once they have tried eating them straight from the bush.
Young tips of the pea plant can be steamed as a vegie too.
Peas are very good for you - a serving size three quarters of a cup contains more protein than a whole egg or tablespoon of peanut butter. They also contain fibre and less than 1% fat. Fresh garden peas contain 16 mg vitamin C/100 g and 70 mg folic acid/100 g, which are both more than one-third of the Australian recommended daily intake, and 1.7 mg iron/100 g, which is more than one-fifth of the recommended daily intake for adult males. Peas are a good source of vitamin E, and also contain carotenoids, the precursors to vitamin A, and a number of minerals, including potassium and magnesium.
And as always, I like to bring you some useless information about vegies to amaze and amuse your dinner party guests. Did you know:-
Resources for Growing Organic Veggies & Herbs: