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Growing these is 'easy peasy'

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In his weekly 'Out in the Garden' column, Mark Cox, of Baytree Garden Centre in Weston, talks us through growing peas...

In return for helping Billy’s Auntie and Uncle on their farm near Bicker we’ve been given a small half acre plot of land in which to call our own.

The arrangement seems to be working well at the moment, for the early part of the week we have been simply tidying up in their back garden ready for the growing season ahead. At this time of the year the days are longer and certainly, believe it or not, the days are getting warmer.

Pea sowing (56142587)
Pea sowing (56142587)

It really doesn’t take long for the soil to dry out at this time of the year and with young plants putting on fresh growth, simply keeping on top of watering can become a major task.

A good idea would be to invest in a water butt for collecting rain water. I know it’s not going to help right now but in the long run it will mean you can water your plants with free rain water as opposed to using water from the tap.

There are a couple of do’s and don’ts when it comes to watering your garden. The biggest don’t is watering in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest. Not only will you waste water but you’ll also risk burning any delicate foliage due to the small water droplets left on the leaves. Each droplets acts like a magnifying glass.

Water the base of the plant to avoid getting water on the foliage, also water in the evening. That way, as the temperature drops, the risk of evaporation diminishes and the plant then has all night to take up the water.

On Thursday morning we were able to start work on our new smallholding. Before we could do that though we had to decide on what to sow. What followed was a pretty intense game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. Fortunately for me I won, so peas it was then. When it comes to growing peas I really love ‘Hurst Green Shaft Peas’. They have never failed me and they taste fabulous too.

Nothing makes you look more like a gardener, I explained to Billy, than growing peas or beans. Up and down the country right now, small but perfectly formed bamboo wigwams are beginning to appear, moving steadily northwards as the soil warms up.

As with all seed planting, preparing the soil is the key to success.

Using a fork, we dug the soil over, breaking up any large lumps we came across. Be mindful to remove any weeds including their roots as the weed can regrow from the smallest piece of root left in the ground. T-Dog then raked the soil level which also helped to break up the small lumps of soil.

X-Man volunteered to draw our cane guide circle in the soil which had a diameter of about 18inches/45cm. We then pressed four 4ft/20cm garden canes into the soil, keeping them equal distance apart around the circle. If it were a clock face they’d be in positions 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. I tied the tops of the canes together to form the bamboo wigwam with just normal string.

We had enough seeds to make three more of these wigwams but I wanted to ensure that we could harvest peas for longer by succession planting. X-Man used his finger to make holes about 2inches/5cm deep at the base of the each canes on our first wigwam, T-Dog followed behind by filling the holes with soil and Billy finished off by watering them in.

In 10 days’ time we will sow four more seeds at the base of the second wigwam and 10 days after that we will sow again, you get the idea.

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