Peas are essentially a cool-season vegetable and one of the first that can be planted in spring.
The soil in the bed should be prepared well in advance with plenty of mature compost. Peas require full sun and good drainage. (Drainage is very important because peas are susceptible to soil fungi.)
Thin out the seedlings to a final spacing of 40 cm between plants. Do not overwater because cold, wet soil encourages damping off (a condition caused by several species of soil fungi). The young seedlings will be attractive to birds and may need to be protected with bird netting. As the plants grow, draw the soil up around the stems to support them, or use sticks to support the growth. Once the plants start flowering, feed weekly with liquid fertiliser.
An excellent variety for the home gardener is ‘Greenfeast’, which has a long growing and picking season. It grows 70 cm tall and the first peas should be ready for harvesting about 14 weeks after sowing. ‘Sugar Snap’ is another popular variety of pea – it is grown for its edible pods. Peas are nutritious and flavourful, particularly if they are eaten soon after harvesting.