The idea is to have some delicious fresh mangetout peas available early in the year, way before anything's cropping from outside.
Me and mangetout have history and it's one that gets steadily worse. I grow mangetout for a couple of reasons. Although in my experience peas always give a disappointing and brief yield for the space they take up, mangetout are high value and can justify the space, time and effort they are given. They also don't succumb to the dreaded pea moth, that tiny caterpillar which gets inside the pods and prevents you eating any raw pods, unless you like a little extra protein! For this reason, maincrop and Sugarsnap peas have had a rest from my plot for three years to break the life cycle. I'll try again this year, but I'm planting later to try to avoid the moth's emergence period.
So, back to the mangetout. I had a brilliant harvest the first time I grew them. It was that really, really wet year and I think they enjoyed the moisture. Beginner's luck.
Then three years ago I decided to grow the purple ones. They looked fantastic on the plot, but the yield was slightly lower and I have to say they tasted a little more cabbage than peas should.
Two years ago I had a disaster. They all got eaten. And the second sowing too.
Last year, they all came up but it was very dry at the crucial time. We hardly got any pods. On top of this, I think I missed a few pods which meant that they stopped producing too. They seemed to swell everso quickly, almost as if they were bolting.
The result was about three meals worth from 100+ seeds!
Therefore this year I have a different strategy. I am growing some traditional green ones early in the polytunnel. I have gone for Oregon Sugar Pod which is supposedly pretty hardy. Today I sowed them four to a pot, which I have covered with bubble wrap to encourage them to germinate. I don't sow direct as there are too many voles and field mice to devour them. When they're big enough, they'll go in the bed allocated for sweetcorn and squash. Hopefully they'll be out again before the corn and squash even get planted. In the polytunnel I have easier access to water too and can tend them more easily. Plus I have two little helpers who are always keen to help me, especially with digging!
|Arthur and Boris, specially bred as gardening dogs.|
I'll report back at harvest time.