August 15, 2010

Grow your own Mange Tout Peas 2010

Pea SeedsPLANT: ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ Mange tout/Snow pea

The pods are large and flat (4½ inches long by ¾ inch wide) and stringless when young. They grow on extremely hardy 3 foot vines which are high yielders and hold their colour well. This pea variety is extremely disease resistant and high in Vitamins A, B and C.

I love mange tout and I decided to grow these instead of “normal” peas because it seems like such a waste of time/effort/food to pod them.


Sow under cover: February - May 26th Feb
Sow direct: March - June  
Germination time: 7-10 days First 2 sprouted 2nd Mar
Plant out: May – June  
Harvest: May - October 3 peas on 17th June!
Time from seed to plate: 68 days  


  • Don’t plant where you have grown beans or peas during the previous couple of years.
  • Indoors: sow in pots or guttering 5cm apart, cover with 2.5cm of soil then water and keep under cover.
  • Outdoors: sow 5cm (2in) deep in 15cm(6in) wide rows 5cm(2in) apart.


  • When seedlings are about 8cm tall, transfer seedlings outside. If you used guttering then slide the whole lot (seedlings plus compost) into a shallow drill that you’ve dug, firm them down and water.


  • Stake for support and to allow plants to climb.
  • Protect immediately from birds. Pinch out the top shoot of each plant as soon as the first pods are ready and harvest regularly to encourage new pods to grow.
  • Don’t overwater in the early stages of growth, as this will encourage them to produce too many leaves. As soon as flowers appear, give the plants more water.


  • Crops over a period of 4–6 weeks. Begin cutting pods at about 7.5cm/3" when the peas are just beginning to develop. Pick regularly to prevent pods fully  maturing on the plant.

March 2nd:

02-03 First Pea sprout My first seed to sprout was a pea! I was so surprised when I checked on them this morning and saw this little sprout as it’s only been 3 whole days since I planted them! I sowed 7 pea seeds and only one has sprouted, so we’ll see if the others will soon follow…
… just been to check on them this afternoon and another one has sprouted!

March 7th:
07-03 Peas 5cm I am genuinely shocked at how fast the peas have grown in the past 5 days! The tallest one is already 5cm tall and according to the experts they should be planted out when they’re about 7.5cm. The roots on some of them are really long already, so I think I’m going to have to transplant them into their own small pots. But this will have to wait until next weekend as Steve and I are house-sitting for his sister this week.
March 13th:

13-03 Peas repottedLike my French beans, the peas have been some of the fastest growing plants I’ve ever seen. At around 12cm tall, they were touching the cover to my windowsill propagator by the time I came home and I had to re-pot them as it’s still too cold outside. The roots were really long, so the propagator did a good job. I was worried that I would disturb all the other seedlings by removing the peas and beans, but I just used a pen to poke them out from the bottom and they were just like plug plants you can buy.

13-03 Peas leavesApparently the pea shoots are good to eat, so later I might sow some more seeds just for this purpose, especially as they’re so easy to grow.




March 21st:

21-03 PeasThe peas have come quite a long way in the past week with the leaves opening up and developing a pretty white pattern. The tendrils are starting to sprawl as they search for something to latch onto.


21-03 Peas 2 I really need to plant them out as they’re now 18cm tall and starting to droop, so I’ve had to stick bamboo sticks (the kind you use for cooking) as a temporary support. I started the ‘hardening off’ process today by leaving them outside during the day and bringing them in at night, so they get used to a change in temperature and it’s not so much of a shock when they get put outside permanently. 









March 25th:
25-03 peas Like my French beans, the peas haven’t really appreciated being put outside as it’s been too windy. So I put them in a trug to give them a bit more protection and they seemed a bit happier with this situation! It’s raining for the rest of this week, so I don’t think I’ll be putting them outside very much, mainly because I don’t want to go out in the rain!




06-04 Peas

I’m a bit worried about my peas. They’re looking a very sickly pale green colour and some of the leaves are shrivelled and turning brown. It’s possible that they need more light as I’ve been keeping them off the windowsill. I’ve read that it’s possible they need more nitrogen, which isn’t surprisingly as I planted the seeds in seed compost and they’ve probably used up all the nutrients by now. Or it could be a lack of/too much water. I’m not very good at judging the thirst levels of plants!


I tried hardening them off again today but it’s still so cold and miserable that I’m scared it will kill them off! I think I will have to be brave and just commit to hardening them off this week and planting them outside at the weekend. If they all die then at least I will still have time to sow more seeds indoors or even try sowing some direct, so all will not be lost. It’s just a shame to see something you’ve grown from seed die!


09-04 Peas

I started hardening off the peas again yesterday as it was lovely and warm! They looked a bit parched so I gave them some water and I don’t think they liked it very much as this was the result for half of the seedlings. So I’ve only got a couple left that look vaguely salvageable. I think I’ll plant these tomorrow in the raised bed and cover them with one of my large propagator lids to keep them warm at night, as I’m getting a bit fed up of taking them outside and bringing them in at night. If they die, then they die. I’ll be sowing more directly in the soil anyway.




10-04 Peas

For the peas I stuck 3 canes into the raised bed in a straight line, then tied them together at the top with a rubber band. I only had 4 seedlings that looked healthy enough to plant and I planted them in a staggered row, but then I managed to bend one (second from the right) so I’ve probably killed that one too! I tied string across the canes to give the pea tendrils something to latch onto, if they survive my brutal transplanting!




2 of the seedlings died, so I dug them up and planted 2 more seeds in their place today.




19-04 Pea OK 19-04 Pea deadOnly two of my pea seedlings survived the transplanting, but then I found today that something has picked off the leaves on one of them! (right-hand photo). I’m a bit annoyed as I’ve tried my best to keep away any birds by covering the peas with fleece at night and I’ve tied a CD across the canes the peas and French beans as that apparently scares the birds. So today I upped my defences and wrapped some really fine mesh that I kept from a photoshoot I helped Steve’s sister on. It was for a kid’s garden party theme and she bought the mesh from a haberdashery. It’s got a special name but I can’t remember what it’s called. But hopefully it will do the trick!

19-04 Wigwam CD19-04 Peas



















27-04 Peas new

I was starting to think that the 2 new seeds I’d planted on the 13th were never going to germinate, but yesterday I noticed that they had both sprouted and are on their way up! Hopefully they will be stronger and healthier having been started directly in the ground, as all the messing around with hardening off my indoor sown seeds did not go down very well.






27-04 Peas

But the one indoor grown seedling that did survive is actually making progress! It’s reached the first line of string that I’d tied between the canes and the tendrils have taken hold. The blue mesh seems to be doing its job of deterring the pigeons or whatever was eating my precious peas!







may 26th:

26-5 Peas

I am so chuffed with how well my mange tout peas are doing. I’ve basically left them to their own devices and just watered them when the weather has been hot. They’ve happily climbed up the netting, although I have detangled a few of the tendrils so that they’re not completely stuck to the netting as I will need to remove it when the time comes to picking the peas.


So I now have 5 healthy pea plants and they’re at different growth stages, which is good as hopefully I won’t have too many peas to pick all at once.


I think next year I won’t bother starting off seedlings indoors as they grow so fast and it’s a bit of a pain to keep them happy before planting out. It was so much easier just to plant them directly into the bed and leave them to it.




5th june:

05-06 Peas

I am so behind with my gardening and blogging it’s untrue! Working full time in London means I hardly have any time to go out into the garden after getting in from work and cooking dinner.


But the peas seem to be doing fine without any help from me - here’s the first flower that grew on my strongest plant…










17th june:

17-06 Peas

And here’s the start of a mange tout pea growing! I got quite excited about this and ran to get my camera. As I was searching around for more of these little peas growing, I spotted these…














17-06 Peas 2

As I said, I haven’t had time to properly tend to any of my vegetables, so I totally missed these growing! They were lower down on the plant than the new ones growing.


I tasted one raw and it was absolutely delicious – so sweet!


I cooked the other 2 and it just so happened that I was cooking some shop-bought mange tout tonight. So I cooked them separately and did a taste test. Steve and I both agreed the home-grown ones were far superior and I can’t wait for more to grow!


Interestingly, they were much lighter in colour than the shop-bought ones.





19th June:

Today I pulled up my my French Bean plant because it had snapped in half due to my rather aggressive handling, so in its place I sowed three Mange Tout Pea seeds. Hopefully this will mean that I will have quite a long season of picking lots of the lovely sweet and crunchy peas.


I also pinched out the top (meaning: cut off the top) of the plants that are already producing peas. This is so the plants put all their energy into producing the peas, rather than putting all their effort into growing taller.


3rd july:

03-07 Mange tout

Returned from a week’s holiday to find a handful of peas had grown rather large! They felt quite thick and tough, so I didn’t think they would be good for eating as all the advice I’ve read says they need to be picked before they grow too big. But I opened up some of the pods and I ate some of the peas inside raw – they tasted incredibly sweet. Steve said we should try the whole mange tout pods cooked, so I chucked them in the pan with some instant noodles and they were absolutely fine.


Unfortunately a snail got into my raised bed and has munched its way through my established pea plants. Surprisingly it hasn’t touched the 3 new plants that have grown from the seeds I planted on the 19th June.


15th August:

Today I cut down the 3 plants that I’ve been harvesting from, as they’ve come to an end now the plants have turned all yellow and the peas are growing rather deformed! I’ve left the roots in the soil as all the advice I’ve read says that this will leave the nitrogen in the soil as they break down.


My 3 new plants are growing well and have started flowering, so hopefully I will still be able to harvest lovely mange tout peas over the next couple of months. This is the great thing about successional sowing, however next year I would like to have at least 6 plants growing at the same time, so that I can pick a decent amount for one meal. Apparently you can’t plant peas in the same space for the next couple of years, so I’ll have to try growing them in my tub trugs next year.


Harry said...

Excellent series of stage photos for Mangetout ! I am growing for the first time this year, so very helpful.

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