I've started plotting ...

First of all I set out the early pea seeds I want to grow on trays inside in the warm. If you place them on tissue paper on a tray, then keep them moist by the addition of a bit of water every day, they take five days or so to germinate. Once shoots start to appear, I transfer them to lengths of guttering half-filled with moist compost. (Remember to drill holes in the bottom of the guttering for drainage). Top up with compost and put them in a greenhouse. Green tips should start to appear after a few days. Even in these freezing January nights, the protection of a lean-to greenhouse is enough to keep them going and they get the benefit of real warmth when it’s sunny during the day. I have to watch for mice, but this method seems pretty easy.

When the peas are about three inches tall, I put them outside. (They can be slid out of their gutters quite easily, or transplanted individually). Depending on the weather, the small plants still do best with some protection, so I put up some glass or some kind of cloche to encourage growth. This is pretty low-tech, but it works.

This kind of approach also works with broad beans. In this case, use a deeper box or container is better than guttering. Wait until the broad beans are about 6 inches high before planting out. When you do this, remember to protect with netting because the crows seem to like pulling the plants up! Below is evidence of growth: another few days and the plants will be ready to go outside.

About the Author

Simon Barefoot has been the President of the Association for some 16 years. His hands-on approach includes trimming the hedges, cutting the grass and encouraging the cultivation of flowers, vegetables and fruit on our special site. He runs the seed order scheme and is involved with the poultry ‘co-operative’. Promoting rainwater collection and low-tech crop management are important interests.