Peas are very popular for their nutritional and gustatory qualities and and these round edible seeds can be included in many tasty recipes. By planting the peas you also contribute to enriching your ground in nitrogen. Although peas fear excess moisture, flowering and grain formation require the presence of water. Very convenient, peas can be stored frozen or canned.

Let’s begin with some basic criteria essential for growing peas; peas like a humid and temperate climate, cannot withstand frost and seek the light. They like turned over soils that have good drainage and that are rich in compost. Usually, the optimum temperature for the best possible germination rate is 64.5 ° F (18 ° C).

Peas, a vegetable prized for its high protein content

Native of the Mediterranean basin, peas belong to the Fabaceae family. Known by the scientific name Pisum sativum, a distinction can be made between fodder peas and wild peas. Peas know various names such as garden peas, round peas, field peas, or simply peas. It is an annual plant that can reach up to 6.5 feet (2 m) in height. Besides their use as a vegetable for human consumption, there are also exists a variety that is used as feed for animals. There are several varieties of peas to eat, namely dwarf peas, chickpeas and split peas. If shelling peas are consumed for their seeds, pod peas are eaten whole, seeds and pods included. There are varieties of peas that are resistant to the cold down to 32 ° F (0 ° C). Originally, the peas were consumed as peasouper. It was not until the Renaissance they were consumed as a side dish of fresh vegetables. Today, the peas are used for soups, quiches, salads and in mixed diced vegetables.

The cultivation technique, timing and maintenance techniques

Cultivation begins with soil preparation which consists of draining it to prevent the roots from being asphyxiated. The drainage will be followed by a 10-inch (25 cm) deep ploughing to properly loosen the soil. Following that, the top layer of soil will also be turned over. The incorporation of organic manure is also recommended to enrich the soil. Sowing takes place in April, in planting rows set 20 inches (50 cm) apart. There are two ways to plant seeds: in groups of 4 to 5 seeds, spaced 12 inches (30 cm) apart, or individually, with one seed placed every 1.2 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm). Optimum density is 80 to 120 seeds per square meter. The first harvests can be obtained three to four months after sowing, that is to say around the month of August. Usually, you will need to water the plants regularly and abundantly during their growth and flowering, all the while avoiding to wet the foliage. Weeding and hoeing operations are also needed to get rid of weeds and favour the growth of plants. Hilling is carried out for seedlings that reach a height of 4 inches (10 cm) to bring it back down to about 2 inches (5 cm). Some varieties need to be provided with stakes to allow their tendrils to cling to them.

Some useful tips

Seeds should be healthy and free of weevil marks. To facilitate germination, it is recommended to soak them in water. Old seeds lose their ability to germinate after 3 years, so it is advisable to use young seeds. To protect your pea seedbeds against pigeons and birds, place small sticks of holly all around. Their spiny leaves will prevent birds from approaching and digging up the seeds. To avoid the hot sun, setting up climbing beans with pea seedlings is useful as it allows the latter to enjoy a little shade. To ensure a good production and prevent soil depletion, it is advisable to rotate crops according to a 3 or 4 year cycle. If you want extended harvest, space out your sowing operations so as to stagger the production. To produce tasteful peas, it is advisable to choose those of which the pods are thin enough to reveal the seeds they contain.

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Published in Green vegetables by Alexander on 14 Sep 2011