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Peas really are the coolest seasonal croppers to get in the ground

PEAFECTION: Snow, green and sugar snap peas are versatile veggies offering fantastic flavour and texture. Pictures: Shutterstock
PEAFECTION: Snow, green and sugar snap peas are versatile veggies offering fantastic flavour and texture. Pictures: Shutterstock

Snow and sugar snap peas can bring a different element to your vegetable garden, and will provide a very adaptable food source for the kitchen as both are tasty eaten raw or cooked.

They need the same basic growing conditions as the green shelling peas in that they do best in a soil that is not too acidic and therefore they respond well to a dressing of lime especially so on acidic, sandy soils.

Choose a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden that has ideally been heavily dressed with poultry manure, or pellets derived from it, for the previous crop.

At planting, give the soil a dressing of a mix of superphosphate and lime at a ratio of 50 per cent of each and applied at one good handful to each one to two square metres of row after sowing the pea seed.

Allow 75cms between rows.

Do not sow directly on top of the fertiliser as it can cause the seed to rot.

Snow peas have edible, flat pods with thin skins and are eaten before the seeds have fully formed.

They are sown to mature before the hot weather arrives.

While these plants are not usually frost sensitive if one does occur while the plants are flowering the pods may fail to set.

Provide a support for them to climb.

Sugar snap is a variety of pea that is allowed to develop the same as the ordinary green shelling pea, that is, not picked until the seed is well developed, then the pods and seed are eaten together either sliced or whole.

Like all sugar pea varieties they can be stir fried and are widely used in Asian dishes.

The ordinary type of pea known as green or shelling pea can be sown now in most districts.

A very good early variety is William Massey also known as Melbourne Market.

It grows as a small bush that stands up to wet weather better than the taller, slow-maturing types.

Another worthwhile variety is Greenfeast which, if sown at the same time as William Massey, will usually take around ten days longer to mature.

An old trick to spread out the maturity of a crop of peas is to sidedress some of the crop with a nitrogenous fertiliser such as urea, just as the chosen plants begin to flower.

Use urea sparingly with a handful being enough for about 1.5 to two metres of row.

Apply when the soil is damp and either allow the rain to wash it into the soil or water lightly.

This treatment will usually cause the fertilised plants to mature some 14 days later.

For smaller gardens the dwarf Greenfeast and Earlicrop Massey varieties can be grown in pots that are at least 60cms deep.

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Use a quality potting mix and feed regularly with a soluble fertiliser when the flowers start to develop.

Plants in the legume family have a beneficial relationship with a soil bacteria that helps it fix atmospheric nitrogen to store in the root nodules.

At the end of the season dig the plants back into the soil so the roots can break down and release the nitrogen for a following crop of leafy vegetables to utilise.

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This story Peas really are the coolest seasonal croppers to get in the ground first appeared on Cootamundra Herald.