Prof Walker prepares
the ground for his Christmas crop of peas.
Welcome to my garden.
I want to talk about peas how we can grow a good crop and
make it last as long as possible. I don't think there's anything
to touch fresh garden peas for dinner.
So where do we
sow our peas?
I always sow my legumes peas and beans, because they can
fix their own nitrogen from the air where I've dug in sweetcorn
But they do need those
bacteria that form the nodules on the roots. And whilst they're
here in my soil, if you're starting a new area for the first time,
particularly if you're remote from anywhere, those bacteria may
not be present in the soil. They might be present on the seed, but
to make quite sure, take a little soil from an old garden, which
will certainly contain the bacteria, and mix it with your peas and
you'll be all right.
I'll be planting Alderman
peas in this area where I've grown runner beans for 10 years. I
had to give the soil a rest, so I've grown tomato crops for two
years. These peas will give me a chance to sow them back into runner
beans when they come out in January.
you've selected your site, what do you need to put on it?
Well, it shouldn't be too acid, your soil, so check your pH. Make
sure it's not much below 6. In my case, I know my soil's relatively
rich in nutrients. It's nitrogen-deficient here because of the sweetcorn
tops. All I've done is give a 5cm layer of compost, which I've hoed
If your soil is not that
rich, it'd pay you to use a little of a complete fertiliser. Something
like Nitrophoska Blue.
How do you sow
I sow my peas in double rows. They're wide enough apart for me to
get my hoe between, to start with, to keep down the weeds. But once
they grow up a bit, I have to weed them by hand.
seed's planted 2cm or 3cm deep, about 5cm apart. Then I cover them
up and firm them in with the back of the rake. This keeps the moisture
Edna and I love to be
eating fresh garden peas for as long as possible. So I start in
early August, as soon as I can get on the land, and sow my first
lot of peas. Once they're 10cm or so high, I sow the second, and
once they're poking through, I sow the third.
Now, in addition, this year, I'm growing Massey a dwarf,
which takes only 67 days to reach maturity. Then Green Feast, which
takes 75, and then Onward, which I've just sown, which takes 97,
on the average. Finally, I shall be sowing Trounce, which is resistant
to mildew, and also the Snow Pea, which is also resistant to mildew
for the later crops.
you harvest these at the right time, when their sugar content is
the highest, I don't think it matters what variety you grow.
I go along the row tasting
them, and when they're at their peak of sweetness, that's the time
Sometimes sparrows and
other birds will pull out the peas just as they're germinating,
so it's a good idea to use twigs in the ground, a few inches high,
and stretch cotton in between them. This helps to keep the birds
off because they get their legs tangled up in it and are frightened.
Although these are Massey
dwarf peas, I still like to support all my peas. I think it's so
much easier to harvest them if they're off the ground. So here goes.
These are made from number-eight wire, and they'll be used to support
all my peas.
Don't forget to water
your peas well. It's most important at that stage, if you want a
Best of luck with your