Growing Dwarf Peas

Latest update 19th July 2016

Dwarf Peas.
  • Novella peas have a dense low growing habit and are ideal grown between my climbing peas and broad beans in winter.  They cover and enrich the soil with their mutualistic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria.
  • Their yield may be relatively low, but grown organically, they are just as nutritious and tasty as their taller cousins and well worth the effort.
  • Legumes grow well in Ecobeds and are not usually affected by fungal diseases like powdery mildew because their foliage stays dry most of the time.
Details.
  • Variety:                                                    Novella. 
  • Family group:                                           Fabaceae.   
  • Crop rotation group:                                  Legumes.  
  • Garden bed type:                                      Garden Ecobed.  
  • Recommended soil pH:                             6.0 - 7.5.  
  • Minimum sun per day:                              5 hours.   
  • Plant spacings (centres x rows):                80 x 80 mm.
  • Weeks to harvest:                                     9 - 11 weeks.
  • Good companions:                                    Potato. radish. carrot. turnip.  
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate. 
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere.
Nutrition.
  • This food is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.   
  • It is a good source of protein, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin and manganese.  
  • More from nutrition data.self.com.
    Growing Conditions: 
    • Peas grow best in full sun.
    • They grow best in cooler conditions.  
    • They need well structured rich organic soil.  
    • The soil must be kept moist at all times.
    Soil Preparation.
    • Clear space for peas in February and add a 60mm layer of home made compost.
    • Cover with 50mm of fresh straw mulch.
    • Leave the bed for 4 weeks to build up worm and microbial activity.
    Growing Instructions.
    • Sow the dwarf peas through the mulch in March in rows 80mm apart.  
    • Using a dibber (or your finger), make 10mm deep holes 80mm apart along each row and sow the seeds in them. 
    • Backfil the holes with soil and water in well with diluted seaweed extract.
    • Cover the soil with fresh mulch as soon as the peas are established. 
    • Apply a foliar spray of aerated compost tea every 4 weeks with all the other edible plants.
    Harvesting and storage
    • Harvest the peas in October/November. 
    • Pick them as soon as they fill the pod.  
    • Use a pair of scissors to snip the pods off the vine to avoid damaging it.
    • Pick when you are ready to use them as they start to lose their sweetness as soon as they are separated from the plant.
    • They retain most of their sweetness if podded, blanched and stored in the freezer right away.  I use re-usable zip seal bags so I can use a few at a time and return the rest to the freezer.
    • If you have more than you can use immediately, you can leave them on the vine to fully mature.  When the pods are dry remove the vines from the bed (I cut them off at the base leaving the roots and nitrogen fixing nodules in place).  Hang the vines to fully dry out and then thresh them to recover the peas.
    • Store the dried peas in covered containers until you want to use them.  Use in soups and stews after soaking them in water overnight. 
    Organic Pest Control.
    • Slugs and snails.
      • Peas should be protected against slugs and snails using self adhesive copper tape bonded around the base of your Ecobeds.
      • If these molluscs get into your Ecobed as eggs laid in your compost, kill them with organically acceptable iron based snail pellets as soon as you discover them.  You should only need to use a small number of pellets.
    • Greenhouse whitefly.
      • Aerated compost tea strengthens the plants foliage against whitefly damage.  
      • Exclusion netting is effective against whitefly but they are very small and will occasionally breach your defences, so you will need to check your crop regularly. 
      • Control any infestations by spray your crop thoroughly with organic horticultural oil (Eco-oil in Australia).
      • Spray again in a few days to ensure second generation whitefly do not survive.
    • Powdery mildew.  
      • A monthly foliar spray of aerated compost tea strengthens your plant's resistance to powdery mildew.
      • A solution of 1 part cows milk to 9 parts water makes a reasonably effective organic pesticide against powdery mildew.  However, it needs to be applied early before the fungi gets well established, and repeatedly to keep the mildew in check.
      • As a last resort spray the foliage with Eco-oil.  
    • General:
      • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defences of peas by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  They defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
      • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes which defend the plants roots against plant pathogens.
      • You can use exclusion netting to keep pests out of the Ecobed while the plants are still young, but as they start to climb the frame, take the netting down so the pollinators have good access to the flowers.