Family: Fabaceae

Countries: Africa, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Europe, France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Liberia, Mediterranean, Middle East, Romania, Turkey

Peas (also known as Pisum sativum) are annual vegetables from the Fabaceae or Leguminosae (Legume) family.  These climbing plants produce pods filled with peas.  The peas are often the focus for gardeners and cooks, but don’t miss out on the extent of the gourmet delights that peas offer us – as all parts of pea plants are edible – the shoots, leaves, pea pods, and the peas themselves – they’re delicious!  Naturally, pea shoots have a delicious, fresh, pea-like flavour.  Pea shoots are a wonderful addition to salads – they make a lovely garnish and are a delightful accompaniment to any meal.

Depending on their variety, peas vary in height (from pea plants that grow to 2.5m (8ft) or more, to pea plants that grow to just 10cm (4″) tall).  Pea flowers range from white, cream, red, pink, purple, or blue in colour; while pea pods can be green, yellow, or purple coloured.  The peas themselves are usually green, but they can also be yellow.  When dried, the peas turn shades of brown, green, and ochre.

Peas are usually grown from February to June.  Some of the hardier pea varieties can be sown in September.  There are varieties that are better suited to growing in cooler temperatures; although, most pea varieties perform better when they’re sown in springtime.  There are also types of peas that are suited to being sown in May and June.  Happily, pea shoots can be grown at almost any time of year.

Peas thrive in a bright, sunny position.  If you’re growing anything other than dwarf peas, it’s wise to set up a support system before you sow your seeds.  Tall, twiggy sticks and open wire fences make very effective supports for peas – just check that your support is slightly taller than the maximum height of the pea variety you’re growing.

Check the soil when your peas come into flower and water if the soil is dry.

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