You might be here because you saw my wonderful pea harvest today on Instagram. If I can grow peas up On The Rooftop then I reckon you can too!
Select one of the many varieties that are available from the tall to the dwarf and bush varieties depending on the space you have available.
Container garden peas will yield a smaller harvest than those grown in a garden plot, but the nutrition is all still there and it is a fun and low-cost means of growing your own peas.
Here are the tried and tested steps for growing peas on my Balcony. Works for me and if I can do it...you can too!
In the City of Sydney (adjust for your location and hemisphere)
The best time to plant peas in Sydney’s temperate zone is from April till September, when the soil temperatures are between 8-24 º C. Select a sunny spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunshine to grow peas and allow a good amount of growing space so that enough plants can be grown to produce an adequate yield. In Sydney, the best site should face north for optimum sunshine.
Peas will need full sun (6-8 hours) in frost-free conditions. Most peas are climbers so they need support as they can get up to about 2m high. there are many dwarf varieties that suit containers and I have planted these with success but I do find that some kind of support is required for even the dwarf kinds. You can limit the height of taller varieties by nipping out the growing tip when they are as tall as your structure allows. Create support for the potted peas with bamboo poles, trellises or stakes set into the centre of the pot. I use segments of my dog fencing supported by bamboo stakes!
Some say not to plant them any closer than 15cm to prevent young peas being overcrowded and “fighting” each other, however, because space is limited on a Balcony and particularly in a container I pack them in about 5 cm apart (!) - works ok for me. Lucky for you if you have a large container or raised garden bed or ground!
Dirt on Dirt
For a quick and easy container garden of peas use a very good quality potting mix from your garden centre or hardware store. I use a sprinkling of blood and bone and rock dust to enrich the prepared soil. die-hards like me make my own potting mix using home-made compost and other amendments but when I'm out of compost, I invest in the best quality commercial potting mix that I can. everything on my Balcony gets renewed so spent potting mix eventually gets refreshed and re-used!
Seeds of Life
Select a container. Almost anything will work as long as you have drainage holes (or make three to five holes with a hammer and nail) and measures a minimum of 40 cm across and depth of about 30-40cm. that's around a bag and a half of potting mix. Fill the container with soil leaving about 5 - 10 cms space at the top. Space the pea seeds about 5cm apart and 1 inch beneath the soil. Water in thoroughly and top with a 5 cm layer of mulch, like compost or or Organic pea straw or Sugar Cane mulch. Keep the seeds in a lightly shaded area until germination (9-13 days) at which time you should move them to a full sun exposure.
If you want a quick fix and don't want to wait for seed raising, just pop down to your garden centre and purchase ready to plant seedlings. I do! When my planning for succession crops has succumbed to lack of time, I will purchase a punnet of ready to go seedlings keep the plastic punnet for seed raising. Raising from seed is my preferred method because it doesn't involve the purchase of plastic!
** I use many self-wicking containers Up On The Rooftop and my range of Growbags (coming online soon) and Waterpot ollas https://www.upontherooftop.com.au/collections/garden because they takes the guesswork out of watering and are suitable for a Balcony or small space garden.
Space the pea seeds about 5cm apart and 1 inch beneath the soil. Water in thoroughly and top with a 5 cm layer of mulch, like compost or or Organic pea straw or Sugar Cane mulch. Keep the seeds in a lightly shaded area until germination (9-13 days) at which time you should move them to a full sun exposure.
Keep in mind that pot grown peas require more water than garden grown, possibly up to three times a day. If you are hosing or watering can watering, frequent irrigation, the nutrients are leached out from the soil, so fertilization is key to growing healthy peas in a container.
A sprinkling of blood and bone a couple of times throughout the growing season, in addition to a drink of seaweed-based fertiliser every three weeks is more than sufficient. I make my own worm wee (well my worm farm does) and this is diluted to no specific ratio, however "they" say 10 parts water to 1 part wee and others it might be 1:1.
Overwatering, especially when peas are young, can lead to all manner of issues. Peas should be watered first thing in the morning, only when the soil feels dry, avoiding water on the foliage.
*** I get around watering issues in my Balcony garden by using self-wicking pots and my Waterpot ollas which means no hosing is necessary and therefore no risk of over or under watering or nutrients leaching from my carefully prepared soil! however, when the seedlings are young, surface watering is needed until the roots are established and able to draw water themselves from the Waterpot or water reservoir.
Overwatering, mildews, cold sensitivity and bird attack because they look so yummy. I have to admit that The Reverse Gardener keeps birds at bay up Up On The Rooftop, but I do employ netting (that's for another Blog) when I have any concerns (my precious Blueberries are way too tempting for the birds who will ignore The Reverse Gardener come Blueberry time). birds love to peck at your young seedlings so a little netting at that stage will be a real help.
Most peas, including dwarf varieties, are ready to harvest between 11 – 14 weeks. Harvest frequently and continuously for a prolonged crop… the more you pick the more they fruit! Expect 6 weeks harvest from snow peas and 3 weeks from garden peas.
Companion Planting (love-filled relationships)
Suitable Companions: Beetroot, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Eggplant, Lettuce, Potato, Sage and Cucumber
Unsuitable Companions (unhappy relationships): Chives, Garlic, Onions and Shallots
Will I be sipping Pina Coladas in two years time? Well, you know that I'm not averse to having a go at growing most anything up here on the balcony...Corn, Blueberries and Grapes have been successful...so why not Pineapples?