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Her Outdoors: Planting peas

Jane Merrick

In October I sowed some peas (for podding this time, not shoots) in root-trainers – which are great because each root-trainer set contains 32 cells, a lot in a small space, and they encourage longer roots. They are perfect for peas, broad beans and sweet peas which love the length to stretch their legs. I sowed two seeds per cell, but as you can see some fared better than others. As with the cabbages and pak choi in their mini-greenhouses, it’s been mild enough to keep the lid off the cold frame, where they’ve spent the winter. Here are the peas ready for planting out at the allotment.

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Peas in their root-trainers

The ones that have stronger growth are Pea ‘Feltham First’, which is an over-wintering variety. The set I’ve taken out (and are a bit weedy) are called ‘Excellenz’. Perhaps not so excellent! There is a second set of root-trainers still in the cold frame at home containing sweet peas, and they are starting to curl their tendrils around each other.

There’s a balance to strike between getting them out of their root-trainers so they don’t get pot-bound, and planting them when the soil is warm enough. As it’s early February, and the soil is wet and cold, it’s too soon to put seedlings that have been relatively cosseted in open ground. But the metre square plastic cloche I nearly hid in last week in a downpour (see earlier post) has been keeping one of my allotment beds nice and warm.

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Their roots are well-established after over-wintering

Here are the ‘Feltham First’ peas ready for planting out. Look at how their roots are well-established – and actually becoming quite pot-bound. They need planting out now.

Between downpours of heavy rain there was about an hour of sunshine on the allotment yesterday, which made kneeling on the path to plant these peas a little easier. The peas need supporting with sticks – here are some prunings from the grapevine that I’ve been storing all winter. Peas love water, so as they will be under cover for now, they need a good soaking before the cloche goes back on.

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In the ground with supports

I’ve also put some willow screens around the base of the cloche to keep the slugs out. In a couple of weeks I can sow some peas direct into the ground – also under cover for now. The cover can probably come off in March.

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The peas are under cover - onions and chard in the foreground

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