Peas are not the sort of thing to grow unless you are a grow your own obsessive. To be frank to get to that perfect point between actually being able to see something that vaguely resembles a pickable pea and becoming a floury giant marrow fat not only involves more pea plants than even a decent sized allotment can grow but also near daily picking and of course you need to be able to run from your plants to the pan to get the sweetness that compares to the frozen supermarket offering. When it comes to peas then Mr Birdseye is probably going to outclass even the best grower butI grow them more for an on allotment snack, and occasional whole meal.
If you are going to give them ago then try Kelvdon Wonder. Kelvdon wonder is an early pea which is very suited to successional growing so you can sow all the way through the spring and summer. It is an hierloom variety, dating back to 1938 and is open pollinated so you can save your own seed. It grows to about 1.5ft/45 cm so needs a little support to grow well but not as much as some hieritage varieites.
In the Kitchen
Kelvdon Wonder is quite sweet, especially when picked young. Older peas will go floury. The chances are that most will not be able to grow more than enough for a few meals. Try steaming for just a few minutes with a little fresh mint or Pea and Mint Bruschetta
Health and Yield
This is a first early but can be sown successionally through the year so is useful if you don’t have enough room to grow many types of peas. It seems to take me about eight plants to get a meal but this will change according to the amount of organic matter and watering that goes on, plus the weather. It will need support, growing about 1.5ft. Kelvdon wonder has an RHS award of garden merit at the time of print which is reserved for varieties at the top of their game.
Sow in early spring to early autumn. Every early or late sowings may need to be grown under cover.
Peas like a fertile sunny spot with plenty of organic matter added.
Dig a trench 5 cm deep and 15 cm wide. Sow three pea seeds (one for the mice, one for the birds and one for you) at 10 cm intervals. Pre-soaking the seeds overnight in water and a touch of seaweed fertiliser can help germination. Cover the seeds and water in well. Keep well watered until the seedlings are several inches high. At that point add support in the form of peas sticks or trellis, Taller, older pea varieties may need support up to 5ft.
Keep peas well watered as they grow and mulch in spring to conserve moisture and add fertility.
Harvest once the pods start to swell.
The biggest issue you will find with peas are mice taking seed or pigeons or slugs eating young foliage. You can protect the seeds with a fine mesh or grow in guttering until they are a couple of inches high when you plant out.
Later sowing of peas can suffer from maggots from the pea moth. if this is an issue grow under butterfly netting.