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Peas – Support Makes for Easy Picking

I’ve grown English peas for almost 30 years.  I think Green Arrow are especially delicious, although I originally grew them because they’re short (24 to 30 inches) and the package said they didn’t need staking.

Staking brought to mind visions of time consuming work in preparing a trellis.  Because of that, I never gave thought to providing some type of support for my peas.

Talk about Easy

Then last year I decided to try something simple that I had read worked for someone else.  Every two feet in the bed planted with peas I pushed in a small branch that I had saved from pruning my hedges back in January. (Push them in several inches.)

By the time the peas come to maturity the branches are totally covered, but the peas stand up and won’t topple over.

It can't get much easier than using a stick every couple of feet. It works just as well as a fancier trellis. The sticks will be totally hidden when the peas are mature and the peas will not topple.

By the time they bloom the peas hide the sticks and are standing tall. If you look closely on the left you can see some of the sticks used for support.

Want to get Fancier?

If you want to get fancier you can.

We had some nice size bamboo poles on hand and Bill made the bamboo set up shown in the pictures below. We ran string back and forth to make a netting for them to grab and climb.

You see my bamboo support here in the top left of picture. It's about 4 feet tall. The peas are a little over 2 feet tall. I ran string from pole to pole for the peas to climb on.

You can see the string in this picture is you look closely.

I also had two beds of peas with the sticks used for support.  Both worked equally well.  And although I think the bamboo support is nice, I wouldn’t want anymore in my garden than what is shown in the picture.

The beds of peas with the sticks look so pretty and there is no visual indication that the sticks are there by the time the peas are ready to be picked.

Benefits of Using Supports to Grow Peas

1. If you grow peas without support, you already know they topple.  That makes it harder to find the peas and the vines break more each time you handle them.

2. In addition to that the slugs and other critters that consider them delicious find it easy to dine when the peas are on the ground.

3. One of the most wonderful advantages to supporting peas in my opinion is how easy it is to pick them.  Much easier on the back!! That’s nice even if you’re in perfect physical condition.  But if you have any physical disability —-believe me — not having to bend over to pick is heaven!

4. The last advantage took me totally by surprise:  Increased yeilds!  I estimate that my yields have increased by as much as 20% on the beds that have support. Yes, there are many variables that could have added to that over a two year period, but I’m pretty convinced it’s mainly the supports.

So if you want to make life easier for yourself in the spring when you’re picking peas and try for increased yields as well, make a note to save some branches from pruning and use them to support your peas.

It’ll save some energy you can spend on something else that needs doing.

_____

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5 comments to Peas – Support Makes for Easy Picking

  • Theresa

    I received an email from a reader this morning that I felt would be of interest to many.

    She writes, “I was happy to receive your post this morning on pea support. — Our plants toppled over just as you mentioned.

    Since (my husband) has so much on him due to my pregnancy limitations I was interested in the stick method. However, I can not understand how putting a stick up every couple of feet would support the vines. Is there any elaboration you could provide me on this?”

    I really wouldn’t know how to elaborate on this other than to say the more sticks you put in the better the support. The little tendrils of the peas do the rest when they reach for the sticks and hold on.

    Put the sticks in as soon as you plant or at least when the peas are no taller than a few inches. They need time to establish themselves on the sticks. Once they get taller and start to lean —–it’s too late. Also you want to get them pushed into the ground BEFORE the roots of the peas get going so you won’t disturb them.

    When you first hear about this, it’s rather hard to imagine how it works but it does.

    I think that’s why so many elaborate garden “gadgets” are sold. Folks think if it’s complicated and fancy it will work. Too bad, especially if simple and easy gets the job done.

    Theresa

  • Anniegi

    Am trying this for the 1st time in my garden and I also used this idea as a support for some morning glories I planted in containers at my daughters house using larger discard tree branches. I can’t wait to see my peas growing over the sticks. Having arthritis & fibromyalgia I try work smarter, not harder as they say as much as I can.

  • Theresa

    Working smarter is the way to go, Anniegi!
    Theresa

  • jan

    We plant raised beds and this year husband made a support fence for one bed of peas but the other two he didn’t. When he realized it would make a difference he added the fencing. It has worked but next time (this fall planting) he said he would have the fencing in when he planted.

  • Theresa

    It is amazing the difference that a little support makes in peas. And — it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

    Thanks for the comment Jan.

    Theresa

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