By Bernard Preston

How to grow peas

How to grow peas and some soup and salad recipes.

It's early Spring again in the cycle of life, my 71st orbit of the sun this year, and I've started turning the sod, adding compost and getting everything ready for the first row of peas.

Autumn planting of peas has been a great success, and we enjoy them every day in our eggs Hilton for breakfast, and a green salad for lunch.

This page was such a success last autumn, but alas I've just noticed that I never got to the split pea soup recipe in the winter. Something for this coming year; apologies.

There's nothing new about that. Granny made Boston baked beans and black eyed pea recipes. We all love split pea soup recipes ... today we look at how to grow peas. Why? Because fresh green peas from your garden are so much tastier. Yes, it takes time. I make no apology: you can either turn off the TV and get into the garden, or eat dull tasteless supermarket peas. Or eat meat for your main source of protein and risk your life. How to grow peas in a back corner of you garden is part of the recipe for a full long and healthy life. Don't you want to sit under the shade of that favourite tree you planted, Gramps, and watch the young 'uns spring up? How to plant peas, how to plant lettuce, radishes, spinach, it's all so easy and rewarding.

A great sadness: I've been following the saga of a favourite patient's daughter. When three months pregnant with her second child, she got breast cancer. The poor woman went through the whole medical saga of breast amputation and chemo. Last week granny told me, tearfully, that she is to be a mother again; to two tiny grandchildren. Her daughter has passed away, only 33-years old.

Research in a top medical Netherlands academic hospital concludes that the Holland's highest rate of breast in the world is directly caused by too much animal protein: dairy, cheese, eggs, red meat.

So, won't you join me this summer with a couple rows of fresh green peas from the garden?

How to grow peas

How to grow peas because they are rich in vegetable protein and anti cancer phytosterols; straight from the garden before the sugars have been turned to starch they will add to any salad or dinner dish; we often add a handful to our eggs Florentine breakfast too.

You have a choice now between

  1. Climbing sugarsnap peas
  2. Climbing (pole) ordinary peas
  3. Bush peas

My choice every time is for one of the first two. The sugarsnap peas you eat pod and all, a big advantage, no podding, or a climbing pea that you put in trellis work. They are far less work, with less bending, and they bear more and for a longer period. But, you have to have a trellis or fence. It's worth the time putting it in. You'll use it in the summer for pole beans. Greenfeast is our favourite.

Tip: A bamboo trellis works very well for pole beans, and also for peas, if you leave the thin branches intact. I used to think a fence was better but it means growing them in the same soil each year; crop rotation is more difficult.

The trellis should for best result run North-South so the peas get sunshine from both sides. Peas tend to get mildew, so they need full sun on both sides of the fence.

Sugarsnap are a hybrid, and the seed will cost you a lot more. But not having to spend laborious hours podding the peas makes it worth the cash to my mind.

Peas are heavy feeders but, being legumes they also put a lot of nitrogen back in to the soil for your next crop, so if you want tasty, healthy peas, dig a trench. The deeper the better, but at least 18".

Fill the trench with about 12" of compost, and cover with at least 6" of soil to lessen the damage done by cutworms in the compost. You can heap it up.

Peas are heavy feeders so if you want to grow them you'll need compost.

Thought: You shouldn't follow one crop with a similar crop. So, if you planted pole beans on the trellis last summer, then dig the trench on the opposite side of the trellis for your how to grow peas.

No apologies for the untidy garden and crooked lines. The peas won't taste any different! You either have what I call Windsor Castle gardening (with three horticulturists and a dozen serfs) or YOU and I are the gardeners. Jup, I don't mind being the pariah with a few weeds showing and a crooked line in my How to Grow Peas manual, 'cause I KNOW just how tasty and healthy they are going to be.

Prince Charles and I are about the same age, I've always felt a kinship (and not a little sadness) for him, who would be a king? Not I, said the little red hen! Nope, I wouldn't swap our lives for anything, I'd far rather be the pauper and enjoy a bit of dirt under my nails now and again! Ever read that delightful yarn by Mark Twain?(2)

It's on-line and free and altogether better than Stones in my Clog, I confess, oh for the pen of Twain!. but my chiropractic stories are largely true, and lot more relevant. Perhaps.

How to plant peas

The seeds of legumes are often difficult to grow; we routinely place them on a shallow cardboard tray, covered with two layers of newspaper, with the seeds between. Keep them moist in a warm spot; four or five days is need to initiate the germination.

Plant the seed about 5-10cm apart and about 1/2" deep (have to please everyone, eh! I wonder what Mark Twain would say today about people who still work with 12" to 1', 3' to a yard, how many yards to a mile, I can't remember but I do know there are 1000 metres in a kilometre!). Cover with soil, lightly pressed down; how to plant peas isn't rocket science. 

Growing peas need to be encouraged to climb a fence or trellis.

If you keep free range hens, make sure they are confined to quarters whilst you are planting peas; they don't eat the pods surprisingly, like they will attack green beans, but they will scratch out your seedlings.

The plus side is that cutworm attack is minimal; the hens just love them. Definition of cutworm, one of the most destructive creatures of the earth; they can destroy a whole row of sprouting peas.

Plant the pea seeds about 5cm apart.

Protein in Legumes

The protein in legumes is a must for every family, whether you are vegetarian or not. Whether it's the hormones in red meat, or red meat per se, and especially processed meat, it's strongly cancer causing. The only solution for those who want to reach a healthy eighty with their breasts and prostates intact is more vegetable high in protein.

Broad beans are the richest, by the way, less of a favourite, but have the distinct advantage of copious quantities of L-dopa, a must for those who might be developing Parkinson's disease.

FOOD Protein in 100g
Green podded peas 5,42
Dried Split peas 24.55
Boiled Split peas 8,34
Green pole beans 1.89
Dried kidney beans 4.2
Dried Chickpeas 19.30
Canned Chickpeas 4.95
Hummus 7.90
Dried Lentils 25.8
Raw Ground beef 21.4
One egg 12.58

The pea is under attack from the weight loss fraternity; undeservedly in my opinion. Yes the green pea contains considerable starch and sugars but, because of its protein content, it's a low glycemic index food; that means that it doesn't activate the fat storage enzyme called insulin in the same way as other starches like potatoes and white rice do; much of it passes through the small intestine undigested; read more about resistant starch as it's known.

There's only 5g of carbohydrate in a quarter cup of shelled green peas, a typical serving; a third of that is fibre which is resistant starch that is not digested producing sugars, but fermented in the colon by the microbiota to form healthy short chain fatty acids.

Plus the green pea contains omega 3, the anti arthritis fatty acid, and plenty of fibre to protect you from you know what.

Take what's clearly useful from the latest fad diet that you may be following but when they start to tell you avoid apples and peas because of their starch, and avocados because of their fat content, then ignore them; in fact it places the whole diet under suspicion because it's not based on well accepted scientific facts.

There is very powerful scientific research confirming how healthy these foods are; we omit them for our regular diet at our peril.

These figures are in some ways distorted. You'd battle to eat 100g of lentil protein but 100g of ground beef or an egg at a sitting is not unrealistic, of course.

My point is simply that the whole gamut of legumes are rich in protein, nearly comparable with animal protein. Those that are dried appear to be richer in vegetable protein because the the water has dried off, but don't underestimate the green pea for example. You could with a bit of enthusiasm enjoy 100g of green peas, but would be hard pressed to swallow 100g of dried split peas made into a soup.

Lentils, chickpeas and split peas and fava beans are the richest in vegetable protein. Try to eat one of them every day. Yes, daily, if you want to escape the nasty lurgy.

A seed is a wonder of nature. I find it mind blowingly amazing that you can drop a shriveled up pea seed into the ground, and 10 days later, astonishing, I find this little miracle shooting up; how to grow peas brings you right into the Garden Cathedral where Adam first encountered our God. You might too.

The first growing pea shoot is a delight for tired eyes.

And now it's time to reap the rewards of your hard work. These are sugar snap climbing peas, you can eat them pod-and-all, either raw or very gently stir-fried.

These climbing peas are nearly ready for reaping.

Green pea salad

As per usual, I hate precise and restrictive recipes. Don't you find they stifle the creativity in you? And if you forget the celery today, is it a train-smash?


  • Two cups of recently picked and podded green peas
  • A finely chopped shallot
  • A finely sliced red or yellow bell pepper
  • Half a cup of broccoli florets (and if possible some of the bright yellow flowers)
  • A cup of sliced celery
  • Half a dozen radishes.
  • A handful of very finely chopped parsley.
  • Homemade olive oil + lemon juice dressing.
  • Half a cup of yoghurt.
  • A good handful of nuts and seeds. My favourites are the pecan and sunflower.


  1. If the peas are from your garden, just pod them and toss them in raw. If bought and young, briefly steam them together with the broccoli florets for a 2-3 minutes. Longer if they are older. Drain, keeping the water.
  2. Meantime make up a bed of lettuce and rocket in your favourite pretty bowl.
  3. In a mixing bowl, chuck in the celery, shallot and nuts and seeds. Add the yoghurt and a teaspoon of raw honey if you know a local beekeeper. Bought honey ain't worth having. Mix them up. A shake of S&P, freshly ground.
  4. Dump the steamed peas and broccoli florets on the lettuce, pour salads and yoghurt mix.
  5. Arrange the thinly sliced peppers and radish prettily, sprinkle the parsley thickly, and finally the raw broccoli flowers. They're not just a garnish, delic.
  6. Let your guests add the olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little of the left over pea water from a decanter.
  7. Let your green pea salad recipe chill for half an hour whilst you chill out with a glass of red wine!

How many will it serve? How long is a piece of string? Come on, you've been cooking long enough to guesstimate. It depends of what else you're serving, but rather serve more of your pea salad recipe, and then a small helping of roast beef and potatoes, and butternut, of course.

Peas add a richness to any salad.

Notice the snow peas (sugar snap) that you can eat pod and all, and the podding peas, both picked no more than fifteen minutes ago in the garden. The taste is divine, unbelievably sweet. You'll never get to enjoy this kind of food unless you make time for the garden... and really how to grow peas is not for just folk with a green thumb. Only beans and radish are easier. Pop in a seed, and two months later tuck in!

I'm glad I know how to grow peas; yesterday, being autumn, I dropped 50 odd seeds in the ground, first having soaked them on wet newspaper for a few days; they are reluctant to germinate sometimes.

Usually there'd be a chunk of feta cheese or half an egg with this, by the way; perhaps a few slithers of salmon.

And they go on and on for weeks.

Adding your own homemade healthy hummus recipe really makes any salad. Make it in four minutes... notice, too, that you can indulge in real butter on your bread if you are eating these kinds of foods.

Nitrogen Fixation Bacteria

The natural nitrogen in the soil, absolutely essential for the plant and animal kingdom including ourselves comes from two main sources; lightening and bacteria that attach themselves to the roots of legumes; how to grow peas enriches your garden as well as your own body.

These bugs are able to "fix" the nitrogen in the air and make it available to plants for growth.

Peas and hummus will give you enough protein for the meal.

Any crop that follows a legume will bloom from the nitrogen these little friendly bacteria leave behind. Nitrogen fixation bacteria ...

Protein in peas

Fava beans and green peas are the start of eggs Hilton; it gives a sense of satiety like no other breakfast I know; it deals with my midmorning hunger pangs.

Eggs Hilton has legumes that are in season, peas in the spring.

Every day we are faced at the Chiropractic Coalface with patients suffering from the ravages of obesity. Terrible arthritis in the knees, foot pain, diabetes, dizziness; part of the solution is the protein in peas, rather than red meat every day; best if you are able is how to grow peas; so much nicer than those frozen.

I have at least half a dozen fresh raw green pods for lunch every day in the cooler weather. Peas for podding are ready for picking, and I have a team of granddaughters just waiting to help me shell them. They rarely reach the pot; mind you, a handful tossed on eight colors eggs Florentine is a culinary wonder.

Another favourite is eggs Hilton.

Aside: My daughter took my blood pressure yesterday. 120/75, not bad at 64. Know the reason? Part of it at least is masses of raw food. Not that I don't love a good steak now and then.

More Legumes in your diet are part of the solution. Take a look at this page: HIGH PROTEIN LOW FAT FOODS ...

Just add a few whole sugarsnap peas to a couple of our lettuce wraps recipes and you have a quick easy, healthy, nutritious lunch.

USEFUL LINKS @ How to grow peas

» » How to grow peas

What's potting?

What to plant and when, remembering this applies only to a temperate climate. You wouldn't be planning how to grow peas and then planting four rows in late summer in Chicago as I did yesterday!


Do these simple little lower back exercises every morning before getting out of bed, and particularly on gardening days, and you'll save yourself a lot of pain and money, visits to the chiropractor and the risk of the complications of surgery. Less than two minutes.

Truth of it, most of us, with the best will in the world, all the care, all the exercises will occasionally have slipped disc symptoms to contend with. If it starts in the leg, don't delay. Get to your chiropractor, remembering that if you FIRST consult your doctor, research shows you are far more likely to end up under the knife.

Black eyed pea recipe

Some like it hot! I do. So there are chillies or jalapeno peppers in this salad recipe.

You'll need:

  1. One small onion, finely chopped
  2. One red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  3. A couple of shallots or spring onions, chopped too.
  4. Either a quarter of a red chillie, or two jalapenos, finely chopped.
  5. Four large very ripe tomatoes, chopped.
  6. A clove or three of garlic
  7. Juice of half a lemon and a couple tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  8. One can of black eyed peas, another of black beans, drained
  9. A sprig of fresh coriander from your herb garden, such an easy herb to grow. A weed!
  10. A large handful of parsley or rocket, finely chopped.

Just toss into a large bowl, mix well and let the herbs and spices penetrate your black eyed peas recipe for a couple hours. Spread on a bed of fresh lettuce and young spinach leaves from the garden. Remove the chillie seeds if you don't like it too hot.
Suffer from indigestion heartburn? Use rather less raw onion and perhaps parboil it. And drink plenty of fluid BEFORE your meal.

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