By Jonathan Jones
The vegetable I am most looking forward to growing this year is this fabulous purple-podded pea, the splendidly tutonically named Blauschokker. These can be eaten whole as mange-tout, or left to mature in the pods, and I hear are excellent in soup, being a little less sweet than many varieties.
As much as anything else, I am looking forward to seeing how they look on the plot. The pods are a vivid purple colour, as are the flowers. They should be quite a sight.
Blauschokker are climbers and can get quite tall, so I will grow them out on the veg plot, using wig-wams made of eight 8’ bamboo canes for support. I’d like to have a steady supply of peas so will be extending the harvest by sowing in two batches, one now and one in 3 or 4 weeks.
How to start your pea seeds
It is still chilly outside so I have sown the peas in root trainers and left them to germinate in the greenhouse. Peas are pretty hardy as plants, so they should be fine in there. It seems early to be sowing vegetables but I want an early crop, plus I have a succession crop planned for that real estate so I need them grown, harvested and out of the way by early summer.
Root trainers are ideal for peas because they encourage the pea plants to put down impressive roots.
I sieved some multi-purpose compost and filled the root trainers, tamping down the compost quite firmly and topping up. I poked a hole about an inch deep in each module and popped one pea in each. If I had used wider pots I might have sown 2 or 3 per pot.
After covering the seeds with some more compost, I watered them in, put on the cover and left them to it in the greenhouse.
Planting out your pea seeds
When they have grown on and are a few inches high I will plant them out, probably in late March, at which point I will repeat the process with the second batch. I have sown enough seeds for two plants per cane plus a few spare.
A wigwam leaves quite a bit of spare space round the edges so I plan to sow some lettuce or other salad leaves there – they don’t object to a little bit of shade and should be quite happy.
By the way, for those of you not experiencing a twinge of nostalgia having read the title of this post, it is an oft quoted line from Blockbusters, a 1980s game-show in which players made their way across a game board by choosing a letter and answering a question whose answer began with said letter. “Can I have a P please Bob” was often met with a grin and a twinkle in the eye of the host, the sadly departed Bob Holness.
Speaking of Bob Holness, there was a widespread belief that he played the saxophone on Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’. I was more than a little disappointed to find that wasn’t true – a total myth.
Jonathan Jones is a plant obsessive who has been raising plants from seeds for a few good years with some pretty good results. You can keep up to date with Jonathan’s progress on his blog, The Propagator, and by following him on Twitter.
Lead image: Pea ‘Blauwschokker’ from Suttons