Sorting Out The Seed Catalogue Jargon

Often when you read the various seed catalogues some of the terms look a little confusing. The catalogues use words like First Early, Second Early, Maincrop, Late Main crop, Mangetout, Sugar snaps, Wrinkled- or Round-seeded peas. What does it all mean?

In simple language it means that you can start the season sowing a first early variety, followed by the others in sequence, ending with a late maincrop, so you get a continuous supply of peas.

Mangetout and sugar snap peas are varieties that are best-eaten young, still in their flattened pods.

There are two types of pea seed and as a rule the best peas for sowing over winter are the round-seeded varieties, as they tend to be hardier than wrinkle-seeded types spraying, the easiest way of avoiding the problem is to only grow varieties of peas that flower before the pea moths are laying eggs.

Pea and bean weevils eat notches from the edges of the leaves of young plants and can cause severe damage although rarely fatal. Dusting or spraying with derris or covering with fleece usually keeps them under control.

If you are growing mangetout or sugar snaps occasionally you will get an attack of thrips. This pest tends to feed on the pods as they develop and this is noticeable by the silvery markings, which can make the pods a little unsightly, but still edible. I don't tend to worry as this pest usually attacks late in the season when the weather gets warmer and the peas are just going over so you don't lose too much of your crop.

Picking

Your peas will be ready to harvest, from

ANDREW'S TOP TIP

Rather than the flat bottom method of sowing, I sow my peas in rows spaced 30-38cm (12-15in) apart, with no more than three rows sown side-by-side. I find that if you sow thicker than this the harvest will be greatly reduced on the inner rows. In tests I have done I have always got the best harvest from a double row, with each row spaced 30cm (12in) apart and grown up a single piece of net placed down the middle of the two rows.

1 For long, pea-packed pods, sow maincrop variety 'Endeavour' from April to early June

2 Late maincrop 'Balmoral' is good for a mid to late June sowing as it has good powdery mildew resistance 3 'Twinkle' is best sown from February to April and takes around 75 days to crop from sowing 4 For an October or November sowing, try 'Meteor'

1 For long, pea-packed pods, sow maincrop variety 'Endeavour' from April to early June

2 Late maincrop 'Balmoral' is good for a mid to late June sowing as it has good powdery mildew resistance 3 'Twinkle' is best sown from February to April and takes around 75 days to crop from sowing 4 For an October or November sowing, try 'Meteor'

approximately four weeks after the first flowers develop on your vines. Try to keep on top of harvesting, because if you pick regularly you will encourage more pods to develop fully. Remember to bend your back because the pea pods at the base of the vines will be ready to harvest first, then work your way up the plants over the next few days and weeks ahead.

Mangetout and sugar snap peas are best harvested when the pods are a good size. Make sure they are picked before the peas inside start to swell, because the younger they are, the sweeter the flavour.

Keep those pea-pickers busy and enjoy your harvest throughout the seasons as well as fill your freezer, so you can enjoy that delicious fresh pea taste later in the year.

Sowing and harvesting throughout the seasons

March-April

You can sow early and second early varieties now, direct outside in drills on the plot. Only sow in March if the ground has warmed up sufficiently. If the ground is still cold wait until April to sow, because your germination will certainly be a lot better. Over the years many gardeners have complained about poor germination and this is usually due to peas being sown too early in cold soil. The

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