Beetroot are a bit of a neglected vegetable, but they’re easy to grow and offer something new and fresh to your kitchen.
As mange touts travel from South America to hit our dinner table in winter, you may want to hold out till summer to eat peas produced locally. Why not plant some, while you are waiting?
Peas are a particularly great home grown veggie because they lose their taste so quickly and may not be the best product to buy at a supermarket. This means that you’ll really get the chance to discover their full flavour when picked straight from your garden. There are a huge variety of peas to grow, including some dwarf peas to fit tiny spaces.
Preparing the soil for growing peas
To grow peas find a sunny spot in your garden, make sure your soil is well-drained (that means that the water seeps into the soil within minutes rather than hours). Add lime to neutralise your soil if you know that your soil is acidic, or just in case it might be. Warm up the ground before planting by laying black polythene on the soil surface.
Peas don’t really like their roots disturbed, so it’s best to plant them directly into the ground. To prepare the soil, prepare a small 5cm-deep trench (drag an end of a stick or a hoe through the ground) and sow individual seeds 5-10cm apart. Cover the seeds with soil, taking care not to alter their position, and firm the ground down lightly. To get continuous peas throughout the season, you can sow one trench in March, one in April and one May so that your peas can be harvested at varying stages.
Maintenance and harvest
For the best results, keep the ground moist throughout the growing season, and when the first flowers appear, water well and lock moisture into the ground by mulching around the plants. This will help flowers form and ensure that the resulting pea pods swell.
Use bamboo canes, twiggy branches or an existing chain link wire fence for support. Finally, begin to harvest when peas are well filled-out in their pods. However, if you’re growing a mange tout variety, harvest pods when they’re about 5-7 cm long.