Alright, alright, I know the books, the seed packet and the helpful people on the ‘tinterweb said to sow overwintering peas in October, but back then I was itching to get them in so I could try out my new polytunnel. Mine were planted in some old guttering in September (Douce Provence, if you’re remotely interested). The guttering theory is that when they are ready to transfer to the garden, there will be minimum disturbance to the roots… which apparently suits them just fine.
If you recall, the weather in September was really wintery and cold, so I genuinely thought that they would never rumble me – plus the fact that my own impatience won out. I’ve always had a theory that seeds don’t really know what month it is, or indeed how deep they are planted. I can’t imagine a row of planted seeds gasping, “I’ll never make it… I’m an inch too deep… go on without me, brothers!”.
So anyway, the peas went in, the polytunnel went on, and every one of them germinated. Happy times. Along came October, and with it came the real deal ‘Indian Summer’ we get promised every year. The weather warmed up, the polytunnel came off, and I swear the plants then thought they were on some sort of mini break. I, for one, was actually on Skeg Vegas beach in my cozzie on the 1st October, but let’s not dwell too much on that thought.
With the temperature yo-yo-ing by the week, the polytunnel was on and off more times than Cheryl and Ashley Cole – and the peas hadn’t a clue what season they were in. I was having serious doubts about whether I’d have any crop to speak of. I’d purposely planted loads, as last year, the meagre pickings we got never actually made it to the dinner table. They sort of disappeared en-route to the kitchen as the other half scoffed the lot straight from the pods.
Anyway, I recently nipped off down the garden to see if they needed a water, threw back the polytunnel with a flourish, and I have to say, I could not believe my eyes. There is only a blooming pea pod on there – what’s that all about? Now I have a tense winter of tending to said peas, which for all I know, may have ‘pea’-ked too early.
I therefore executed a cunning backup plan. In case the plants under the polytunnel don’t make it, I planted another tray in the greenhouse. I am happy to report that these have all popped their little heads up.
If they all survive, this year we may be having shares in Birds Eye. I wonder if there will be a ‘largest collection of peas’ category in the Earl Shilton Flower and Veg show this August…
This article was featured in The Hinckley Times on 23 February 2012: