Project: Pea Shoots – Sowing
Here’s an ideal starter-for-ten growing project for any budding Back Yard Kitchen Gardener looking for a quick win.
Pea shoots are extremely flavoursome and versatile. You can add them to salads, use them as a posh garnish, steam-cook and then blend them up to make fresh pea shoot soup, all sorts of delicious options. You almost never see them in the supermarkets, but the good news is that they’re almost ridiculously easy to grow.
1. Select Your Container
Pretty much anything will do, as long as it’s properly holed for drainage. I tend to use a plastic trough – mine are about 20(w) x 50(l) x 17(d) cms – with a tray to help catch any excess water. But you could also grow pea shoots in old wine boxes, colanders, buckets, etc. Whatever you’ve got to-hand, really, as long as it’s deep enough (15cm+) to allow for the roots to develop nicely.
There’s no need to use modules or seed trays as the pea shoots will be staying in the container you plant them in until you start harvesting.
2. Add Compost
General purpose compost is fine, no need for seed compost or perlite, anything like that. Mine is a John Innes blend, but that’s mainly because that’s what happened to be 3-for-2 at the garden centre.
Fill your container to within 5-6cms of the top, as you’ll want to add another 3-4cms of compost once the peas are sown and leave a bit of room for watering.
3. Sow Dried Peas
I think pretty much any seed peas will do – I’ve just sown a batch of Kelvedon Wonder (early) but that’s just what I had left from last year. You’re not aiming to cultivate the pods, after all, just the shoots. Alys Fowler used dried marrowfat peas on her TV show, so if you can get hold of some of those, they might work just as well and cost a bit less.
You’ll want to sow them fairly thickly, rather than in a row, as the idea is to develop lots of bushy pea-shoot growth. Here are mine:
And then cover those over with another 4-5cms or so of compost.
Water in Well and Wait…
Weather-allowing, germination should occur in ten days to two weeks or so. After that, it’s another couple of weeks before the shoots will be large enough to harvest. Once they’re of a size, they should be good for regular handfuls for four to six weeks, depending on weather conditions and how often you pick them, so for successional sowing, a batch once a month or so ought to be ample.
If you find yourself eating a lot of pea shoots – which, given how tasty they are, isn’t altogether unlikely – you should obviously feel free to increase your container size or sowing frequency to suit.
Once I’ve got some harvestable shoots to show I’ll post again on the joys of cut-and-come-again picking.
Let me know how you get on if you decide to give pea shoots a go.