This week in #BritishVeg hour it was the turn of two vegetables really worth growing at home, because the flavour is just so much better anything from the shops. But in both cases you need to be quick from plot to pan – the sugars start to break down as soon as you harvest, and the best flavour comes from eating them as soon as possible.
The first question covered was whether to grow bush or climbing peas. Climbing peas have a longer season and better flavour. These varieties are not grown commercially because they can’t all be harvested at once, but they are perfect for home growers.
Favourite varieties among the #BritishVeg growers were –
‘Telefono’ – a climbing pea growing to 5-6′ in height. Large pods, lots of peas and an excellent flavour
‘Kelvedon Wonder’ – a good early variety
‘Meteor’ – another early variety, good for growning in containers or in the ground
‘Waverex’ – compact and bushy petit pois variety, producing lots of sweet-tasting peas
‘Desiree’ – a purple podded pea, an attractive plant but the peas themselves weren’t great
‘Carouby de Mausanne’ – mange tout, appreciates 3-4′ of support, need to keep an eye on it and harvest the pods young because they grow quickly
‘Shiraz’ – mange tout with purple pods, best eaten raw or lightly steamed to keep the colour
‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ – a sugar snap pea with good flavour
Peas can be grown in the ground, in tubs and in bags –rich, moisture retentive soil is what they need. If you’re organised enough, making a pea trench in the winter is good for growing in dry years, helps to prevent mildew becoming a problem
Successional sowings give a more even harvest, rather than a single glut. And it’s not too late to sow for a crop this year.
Pests affecting peas include the pea moth, which lays its eggs on the flowering pea plants. The caterpillars then eat the peas inside the pods. Pea weevil can also be a problem – the larvae live in the soil and feed on the root nodules, while the adults eat the edges of the leaves. But this is rarely a serious problem, and a spray with garlic solution every 3 days when the plants are flowering helps.
This is a vegetable that really does need warm weather before it is planted out (min 10C night time temperature). But it can be grown in large tubs under cover for an early harvest (shake the plants every day when in flower to ensure good pollination).
Some of the new varieties, like ‘Seville’, are more cold tolerant. These might be a good choice for growers in northern areas.
While peas need to be eaten soon after harvest, sweetcorn is at its best immediately after it is picked. This is true of baby corn too, which tastes far better home grown than from the supermarket– similar to the difference in taste between freshly harvested and shop bought asparagus. ‘Minipop’ is the variety to choose for baby corn – very reliable.
You can also grow your own popcorn. Variety wise – ‘Strawberry’ is good, ‘Britpop’ reported to sometimes not pop.
If you missed #BritishVeg hour but have a question, suggestion or growing tip, you can leave a comment here on the blog.
And you can always join in next week – Tuesday, 8-9pm on Twitter.