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Growing Peas


Peas can be grown throughout Australia in the cool months and throughout spring and with both dwarf and tall-growing varieties available, peas are pod-perfect for any size garden. Follow Graham's tips for success. Peas are protein packed legumes and are much sweeter when grown at home and picked just before dinner. Otherwise their sugars convert into starch after a few hours after picking and they don't taste as nice. Peas need a sunny spot and support.



Peas grow best in well-drained soil with added compost to improve nutrition and drainage. In heavy soils aged manures and compost provide sufficient organic material to break-up the clay. In sandy soils the extra organic matter will help bind the soil together. Apply a light dusting of lime to reduce soil acidity, a must for peas.


A complete organic granular fertiliser, such as Kik Start, should be mixed into the soil before planting seeds. This can be incorporated into shallow trenches alongside where the peas will grow to avoid direct contact with young roots. Peas produce their own nitrogen on the roots so don't over-feed plants.



Peas require full sun for a minimum of six hours every day to grow, flower and fruit well. 


Growing guide

Peas can be grown in all climates and you need a plenty of vines to obtain a good harvest. If you live in a warm area sow your seeds between March and July. In temperate regions sow from February to August, and in cold areas avoid frost damage to flowers and pods by sow seeds between September and October.  Start by building your pea trellis / wigwam or framework (see photos above). Peas grow anywhere between 50cm and 2m high and must be supported. Peas can be planted after wet weather as they are prone to rotting off in wet soils. Do not water pea seeds after planting, but instead wait about a week before watering (choosing a dry period is important).

We like to build both wigwams and a long trellis out of bamboo with the twiggy bits left on (peas don't like smooth surfaces as they can cling on as they grow). We use the bamboo from a grove down the side of the house - getting about 3 seasons out of each piece before it cracks and splits. If you don't grow your own, ask someone who has bamboo, its likely they would be happy to cut some for you. Or you can use 'pea sticks' which are just tree branches that have been cut and pressed into the soil vertically, the more little branches and twigs the easier it is for the peas to hitch a ride.

Peas grow throughout autumn and winter, and if you succession sow throughout autumn (every 3-4 weeks) you should have a trickle of peas throughout winter and spring. Peas are best sown directly into the soil. Sow seeds about 4cm apart in double rows or sow 2 peas per bamboo stake up a wigwam. When peas are about 10cm tall they need to be tied to your trellis, after they get to 40cm they should be able to tendril their way up!


Seeds should be sown into moist soil and not watered again until seedlings are 7-10cm tall. Root rot from over-watering is common.

Sow seeds to a depth of 5-7cm, no deeper, and spaced 10cm apart with rows 45-90cm apart.


Re-sow seeds at 2-3 week intervals.


Pests and Disease

Few disease or insects trouble peas. Fungi, such as mildew, may attack both the leaves and pods during warm humid weather. Regular sprays of Eco Fungicide or wettable sulphur will easily control this problem. During hot dry weather red spider mite can be a major pest but can be controlled naturally with regular applications of Natrasoap, PestOil or Eco-Oil. And space out seeds to 10cm apart to allow for better airflow between plants. Watering plants with seaweed solutions during sunny weather improves disease resistance.                 


Tips & Tricks

Dust seeds with a fungicide before sowing to reduce diseases at germination time.

Protect young seedlings from birds.

Dwarf peas need either a small hardwood timber, not bamboo, tripod or short trellis support to fruit well.

Tall peas can be grown on wire or twine stretched between stakes, along a fence or up tomato stake tripod to produce more pods over a longer season. Erect climbing frame before sowing seed.

Keep competitive weeds at bay with regular cultivation around plants

Balcony gardeners can grow peas in a 20cm wide terracotta pot with supports for climbers.



There are many types of peas: snow peas or mange tout, sugar snap, and podding peas. Snowpeas and sugarsnap are prolific - so don't sow too many of these! There are many types of podding peas: Greenfeast, Telegraph and Massey Gem. Snowpeas seem to do well in Sydney.

Dwarf varieties:

Earlicrop matures earlier than most and is much sought after by home gardeners as it bears good crops on strong bushes 1m tall.

There are dwarf Snow Peas with edible pods 90cm tall.


Climbing varieties:

Greenfeast is a popular, heavy producer of well-filled very tasty pods on a 1.5m vine.

Telephone is a vigorous variety needing netting to 2m and producing very large pods over a long period. 

Sugar Snap is a popular pea eaten pod and all with a vigorous 2m tall, heavy cropping vine producing over many months.

Climbing Snow Peas produce big crops of crunchy, sweet, nutty-flavoured pods with small seeds, eaten pod and all and ideal for Chinese cooking.


Harvest and storage

Harvest pea pods once they are 'full' and before veining appears on the pods. Peas can be kept in the crisper of the refrigerator for two weeks or peeled, blanched for a minute and frozen. Pick peas regularly, every day, as they get too large and woody and will soon lose their sweet taste if left too long. Pick peas young and sweet. Don't forget to eat the pea shoots and pea flowers too - they're delicious.

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