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 Cauliflower

cauliflower

Cauliflower is a staple of colder climate gardens and, given good soil rich in organic matter, is relatively easy to grow. It is a large plant and needs lots of nitrogen. It is also attacked by white moth. This moth will lay eggs under the leaves which quickly hatch into light green grubs that can decimate a small seedling.

A good way to avoid too much damage from white moth is to NOT plant your cauliflower (and brassicas in general) in lines, but interplant with other plants. Cauliflower and lettuce planted beside each other are good as are any Asian Greens, like bok choi. The shape of the leaves confuses the white moth and makes it less likely to lay eggs. Having said that, I still make a point of visiting all my new brassicas in the morning to pick off white moth grubs.

This companion planting guide should give you an idea of what works well with cauliflower.

Temperate-CauliflowerCompanionGuide

Companion Planting Beans

beans

Runner beans are probably the easiest thing to grow in your garden. They sprout very quickly and provide nitrogen fixing. They can clamber up poles and harvest very quickly.

Plants the benefits from beans are any that require lots of nitrogen to grow. So good companions are brassicas, like cauliflower.

Corn benefits from the nitrogen and also provides a trellis for the bean to climb up. Start the corn about one month ahead of the beans though. Corn grows slower than beans and needs to the head start so that quick growing beans have something to climb up.

This is our companion planting guide to beans.

Temperate-BeansCompanionGuide

Companion Planting – Potatoes

potato

While many of you will have potatoes in, there is still time to get these heavy feeding veggies in the ground. Because they are such heavy feeders (they require lots of nutrient and organic matter) you need to make sure that the soil has lots of nitrogen, lots of properly broken down organic matter and no other heavy feeders nearby. Sunflowers in particular will suck up what ever they can because they have to produce such a giant flower head. I plant my sunflowers over the top of recently dispatched chickens.

Here is the Garden Planner guide to companion planting potatoes.
Temperate-PotatoCompanionGuide

How to plan a garden working bee

I’m going to plan a garden working bee this weekend, and there are just a few key ingredients to get right.

STEP 1: Friends

Gardening is pretty satisfying by yourself, pottering about fixing and nurturing and helping things on their way, but is awesome when it brings people together. From sharing tips and mistakes, to sharing tools and ideas, to swapping crops and harvest, having a good gardening community has taken gardening to the next level since agriculture began.

BUT when you’re looking for friends who will help you shovel compost, you’re talking about pretty special friends. These are the kind of friends who know a job shared is a job halved. This might be the kind of friend you can say ‘you buy the lawn mower, I’ll buy the chipper’ to, or ‘you build a compost heap and I’ll do a worm farm’, or ‘you plant tomatoes and I’ll plant beans’, or the kind of friend who knows they can call you from a traffic jam at 3:25 on a school day and be sure the kids are OK.

The deal for our working bee today is about skills share – our friends are going to come over (family of 5 including 3 reasonably big sons – win!) and help in the garden if we teach them all about veggie gardening. This is great, because Paul’s  foot is in a cast, and winter planting just wasn’t getting done!

STEP 2: A PLAN

Our family, plus their family. That’s 10 people, and some of them are under 10 years old. So making it up as we go along isn’t going to work out. The jobs that need doing include planting, weeding, chipping, building a compost heap and general tidying. If I have at least the first jobs planned, we can all get busy straight away and get that lovely ‘getting things done’ feeling.

Being the able-bodied grown up that lives here – I’m thinking I’ll take the less glamorous tasks: getting the muck from the bottom of the chook run near to where the compost heap is going to be, and then operating the chipper.

Our guests will have the fun task: the actual planting – and we have a plan all laid out in The Garden Planner iPad App, so we know what will go where, and our crop rotation and companion planting is all thought through. Paul has had a lovely evening or two on the sofa trying out various arrangements of plants in the beds in the app and now has a plan – not only for how we’ll plant things out today, but for how the staggered plantings will go in over the next weeks, and then how our harvests will come in through the season. The app’s reminders will keep us on track.

STEP 3: TOOLS

To keep things rolling smoothly we’ve had a look in the old garden tool corner (we don’t really have a shed) to make sure everything is there and working. A few shovels and hoes, check the wheelbarrow is OK, have a few pairs of gloves on hand (geddit?).

Borrowing tools and sharing some of the more expensive things is another great way to build the garden community. Even if you can’t attend a friends gardening day, lending tools that makes life easy keeps what’s going around, coming around.

STEP 4: FOOD

Great food is great – and let’s face it, it’s why we garden! We’ve made an epic apple cake for afternoon tea, plenty of fresh fruit, and a huge slab of bread is rising on the bench. I also have a fridge full of sausages and a cheeky few bottles of homebrew beer at the ready for a BBQ as the sun goes down.

I’ve been warned teenage boys eat a lot, and after an afternoon out in the sun, we’ll all be pretty hungry so maybe I’ll whip up a few deserts as well.

READY, SET, GO!

The final ingredient – a mild, sunny late summer Saturday afternoon – appears to have arrived of its own accord, so everything is in place! Should be a magic day for gardening. I’ll post some pics over on the Facebook and Instagram pages if you want to see how it all works out.

Let’s go!