How to Grow Peas

Peas

Peas are a regular crop in my garden and are incredibly easy to grow. They sprout very quickly in all most any kind of soil. They do need a trellis to grow up and a best grown during the cold months, providing a sweet crop during late winter and early spring. Make sure that you plant them successively, 6 or 7 plants for a family every 3 weeks should ensure that you have plenty of peas. And you’ll need them as they sometimes don’t make it into the kitchen, getting eaten straight from the

Planting

Plant the seeds about 10-15cm apart, or closer if the soil is particularly rich with manure. Put them about 1cm deep, although I have planted them in loose soil and the seed ended up on top of the dirt. The peas seeds still sprouted and sent roots down and a stem up. They should sprout within 7 days from planting.

Makes sure that you have a trellis or some sort of structure for the the peas to grow up. They can grow to 2m tall.

Companions

Peas are excellent nitrogen fixers. They take nitrogen from the air and put it into the ground for leafy vegetables and fruits to use. They grow well with carrots, potatoes, parsnips and pumpkin.

Grow Peas - Companion Guide

Harvesting

You can get a riot of colour on the peas plants as they grow out their flowers and eventually pod up. A little secret to maximising your harvest is to pick the first first pea pods very early. This will cause the plant to put out more flowers. More flowers means more pods and more pods means more peas.

 

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Companion Planting Cabbages

Green Cabbage icon - The Garden Planner

Companion planting for cabbages is about providing protection from pests and providing nutrients.

Because they are very heavy feeders (think about those huge glorious big leaves) cabbages can be difficult to grow. They are also a favourite food of white moths. Seedlings can be stripped and destroyed overnight by white moths. Companion planting can help, although not completely eradicate, with this problems.

Cabbage Companion Guide
Cabbage Companion Guide

Companion Planting for Nutrients

Big leaved plants like cabbage (and other brassicas like cauliflower and brocolli) need lots of nitrogen. Lots. Of. Nitrogen. By companion planting with legumes and other nitrogen fixers like beans and broadbeans, you are placing back into the soil a vital nutrient for cabbages.

Companion Planting for Pests

White moth can be an absolute disaster for brassicas, especially when they are younger seedlings. They can strip mine a cabbage overnight in warm wet conditions. At some stage in your gardening, you will loose an entire crop of cauliflower or brocolli or cabbage to the white moth caterpillar. There is no one sure fire way to prevent white moth infestation, so you need to use a combination of approaches. Companion planting is one of these. My interplanting with the plants listed below, you are confusing the white moth by mixing up the visuals as well as the olifactory. The white moth can’t see or smell the cabbages properly.

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How to Grow Broadbeans

broadbeans

Broadbeans have been cultivated since ancient times and are extremely simple to grow. In fact there few plants easier to grow.

Broadbeans are Good for the Soil

They are best planted directly into the ground in early autumn through to early winter and take about 3 to 4 month to reach maturity.  Allow about 20cms between seeds and grow them in long rows so that you can access the bean pod easily.  The soil shouldn’t be to well fertilised as you want to encourage pod production and they are nitrogen fixers, meaning that they will absorb nitrogen from the air and bring it into the soil. For this reason, they are very useful for condition or helping soil that has had a heavy feeding crop to recover for the next spring time planting. They are excellent as part of a crop rotation system.

Broadbeans have very long tap roots so the other benefit that they can give to the soil and therefore to your next crop, is that it can bring up nutrients that are deep in the soil and otherwise unaccessible for plants with shallow root systems.

Broadbeans need Support

Broadbeans grow very tall and have a slender stem. I would recommend either staking them or finding another way to support them. A strong wind can bend and break them over. My own solution is to plant two well secured stakes into the ground at both ends of the broadbean row as well as further supporting stakes at 70cm intervals on either side of the rows. I then create a support by wrapping a rope around the stakes at 50cm intervals. You can stake them directly if you wish, so long as you place the stake early to avoid root damage.

How and When to Harvest

Harvesting broadbeans isn’t tricky. You can get them early when pods are about the length of a finger. This gives you the young sweet beans and means no peeling. You can wait a little longer and get them when they are larger and perfectly ok to eat, they just require double peeling which can be a pain. You can also leave them at this point and let the broadbeans dry out in their pod for use over winter in soups and stews.

After Harvest

Mulch broadbean plants that you have harvested from. Dig them back into the soil to get the most benefit.

What to Plant in June

cauliflower

It is still warm in some parts of the country so knowing what to plant in June is a little tricky this time around. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued its El Niño Southern Oscillation index report saying that most of the modelling it has done are in favour of a La Niña. What does that mean? It means above average rainfall for south, east and northern Australia. Knowing this means that you can start to plan around a wetter winter and spring. What does it mean for your area? Less frosts? How will your soil handle the extra wet? Starting to think like this, looking for clues in the weather is an important skill for all gardeners to learn.

This is what to plant in June in your part of Australia.

Cool

You have probably started having frosts (or if you are in snow country, snow) so keep that in mind before you put your plants outside.

  • Mint, sage, thyme, coriander, dill and parsley are all good to plant out now
  • Celery, carrot, turnip and fennel
  • Rocket
  • Pak choi and all chinese cabbages
  • Swiss chard, spinach and silverbeet
  • Beetroot
  • Spring fruiting strawberry varieties (consult your local garden shop)
  • Blueberry
  • Brassicasa like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Peas, Snowpeas
  • Broadbeans
  • Leek
  • HURRY UP AND PLANT GARLIC before the winter solstice

Temperate

  • Mint, sage, thyme, coriander, dill and parsley are all good to plant out now
  • Celery, carrot, turnip and fennel
  • Rocket
  • Pak choi and all chinese cabbages
  • Swiss chard, spinach and silverbeet
  • Beetroot
  • Blueberry
  • Potato
  • Blueberry
  • Brassicas like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Peas, Snowpeas
  • Broadbeans
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • HURRY UP AND PLANT GARLIC before the winter solstice

Sub-Tropical

  • Chilli
  • Pak choi and all chinese cabbages
  • Swiss chard, spinach and silverbeet
  • Brassicas like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. <– watch for white moth
  • Peas, Snowpeas

Tropical

  • Tomato, capsicum and eggplant can be planted indoors
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Potato
  • Chilli
  • Pak choi and all chinese cabbages
  • Swiss chard, spinach and silverbeet
  • Brassicasa like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. <– watch for white moth
  • Peas, Snowpeas

3 tips for Straw Bale Gardens

It’s been a few weeks since we planted the seeds in our straw bales and they have grown into nice healthy plants. We have found some things we should have done, and some things we shouldn’t have, so here are some things you need to know about straw bale gardening.

Straw Bale - Plants started from seed (peas and swiss chard)
Straw Bale – Plants started from seed (peas and swiss chard)

You will need to water your garden more than you would normally.

Soil holds water much better than straw does. When you water your plants in a normal garden, the water seeps through the ground quite slowly because there are much fewer spaces for the water to drip through. This means the roots get as much time as possible to soak up the water. In a straw bale, however, there are more gaps, and they are much bigger. The water takes much less time to soak through, meaning the roots have less time to take it all in. This causes the plants to get much less water from one watering. We watered our strawberries around 2 times a week in winter. (In summer, you would need to water daily.)

Transplanting seedlings generally works better than seed tape.

A seed tape is when you put the seeds between two wet paper towels. (If you want more detail on this, go here.) Transplanting is the name for when you grow (or establish) the seed in a pot or a dirt garden, and then move it to the straw bale. We found that overall, the seedlings we transplanted grew much faster than the plants that grew from a seed tape. The reason for this is a bit unclear, but we think it’s because of the root system. When a seed is planted in a straw bale and the roots begin to grow into the ground, they are actually growing into air, because at the top of the bale, there isn’t a lot of nutrients and things that help a young plant grow. The real goodies for a plant are in the middle, and the plant can’t get there without them. This is not a problem when a plant is growing in dirt, because the nutrients are already all around the roots. When a seedling with already-grown roots is transplanted into a straw bale, it can already reach the middle of the bale. It takes in the nutrients and shoots up very quickly.

However, using a seed tape is actually better for some plants like peas and garlic. This is because the seed in these two plants germinates quite close to where the good nutrients are. Some plants also don’t work well with being transplanted, like beetroot or carrot, so the seed tape is just the best option.

Straw Bale with established plants (lettuce and strawberries)
Straw Bale with established plants (lettuce and strawberries)

You will still get some pests on your plants.

We thought that snails and slugs wouldn’t be a problem, because;

  1. The plants are up high, making it hard to get to, and
  2. Climbing up the straw is hard because the side of the bale is jagged.

This turned out to be wrong. Pests can still get up there, but you won’t get as many as you would in dirt. There were also ants on the top of our bale. To stop this, we made a chili and garlic spray to put on our plants. This got rid of the ants. You can also put some crushed eggshells on to keep away the slugs and snails. You can also choose to just leave it. There would be much less pests, so deciding to put up with it wouldn’t be as bad as in dirt.