If you want peas, prepare for war

peas sown in gutters

To riff on Vegetius, you’d better get ready for major hostilities if you’re planning on growing peas.

I gave up sowing them direct years ago. Waste of time: They’re either eaten by rodents before germination or destroyed by bean weevil just after.

Even if you raise them in plastic guttering (as above) and transplant, you’re locked in combat thereafter with pigeons, slugs/snails, pea moth and just about every other evil bastard on the vegetable plot.

It’s astonishing that this was one of the first mass-cultivated vegetables in Europe, an essential staple for Greeks, Romans and our mediaeval ancestors. Most of the others (parsnips, wheat – or rather, spelt) aren’t too tricky to grow. But peas are a heart-breaker.

I’ve no idea how they kept the pests at bay. Cicero, who goes on a bit about home vegetable growing, offers no clue. Nor, as far as I can see, does Varro.

So, because this is the web – and you simply never know who’s reading – here’s a question to any experts in prehistoric and/or Classical agriculture that may occasionally dip into soilman.net:

Just how did the Romans kept the pigeons off their bloody peas? Any ideas?

[Fine point of interest: Varro goes into great detail about cultivating grapevines. If you’re organic and grow grapes, you may find his hints and tips useful]

Posted on 1st May 2011
Under: Peas and beans | 21 Comments »

Peas be with you, cos I’ve got bugger all

peas in podI stumbled on this photo from last year and breathed a heavy sigh.

I did get a harvest of peas last week, but only enough to feed two concentration camp internees. Or perhaps one anorexic… on a diet.

Mind, I don’t feel so bad about the peas as I do about, say, the lousy onions. Peas are always a bugger to grow well, even in ‘good’ seasons. You’ve got the disgusting pea moth, whatever you do. And in my area, pigeons target pea plants with single-minded ruthlessness.

As I’m fond of saying (this year, at any rate): there’s always next year.

Posted on 20th July 2010
Under: Peas and beans | 14 Comments »

A typical basket NOT from Tesco

Peas and courgetteA pretty standard basket of veg picked on the allotment at the moment. Lots of peas, LOTS of courgettes.

I’m always struck by the absurdity of those supermarket TV ads competing for prices on ‘a typical basket’.

Whatever they’re punting, it’s not my idea of a ‘typical basket’, that’s for sure.

Posted on 24th July 2009
Under: Cucurbits, Peas and beans, Summer | 7 Comments »

First cooked peas in five years

Fresh peasIn five years of allotmenteering, I’ve never cooked a single pea I’ve grown.

They’ve never got near the pan – too sweet and delicious. These only got cooked because I left them a fraction too long and they lost their sweetness.

They were OK. But on balance, I wish I’d scoffed them raw. As usual.

Posted on 12th July 2009
Under: Peas and beans | 6 Comments »

Eyeing pods: Hurst Greenshaft

Hurst Greeshaft peasThese have been a long time coming. They’re still not ready,  of course, but at least the anticipation can begin.

There is nothing – nothing – so delicious as fresh peas. They’re just stupendous; fresh, sweet and irresistible.

I always intend to make complicated salads and soups with them. Dainty morsels drizzled with this and puréed with that. But I never get round to it.

Peas don’t make it as far as a pan. I shell them and scoff them raw, watching TV with Mrs Soilman on the couch. Usually in vast quantities, such that we suffer noisome digestive repercussions.

Ah, summer.

Posted on 21st June 2009
Under: Peas and beans | 6 Comments »

Keeping birds off peas

Peas under net tunnels I’ve got a theme going here: Vegetables Under Tunnels. Seems a shame to stop just when I’m getting into the swing of it.

These peas are getting a head start under nets because birds always eat my young seedlings. Which is very odd, because I’ve yet to read a gardening book that mentions this problem.

Slugs and snails? Yup – known issue. Pea and bean weevil? Definitely. Mice eating seeds? Absolutely.

Birds eating seedlings? Say, what?

Apparently this a problem only suffered by Soilman. And yet it’s a serious, regular, annual issue – not a one-off freak event. Birds scoff my young peas if I don’t cover them. ALL THE TIME.

Does this make me an utter weirdo/freak/sadster/born victim?

Posted on 7th May 2009
Under: Peas and beans | 11 Comments »