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The pea (Pisum sativum subsp. Sativum) belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae) and is one of the oldest crops. The legume originally comes from the Middle East and was cultivated there as early as 7000 BC. Starting from the eastern Mediterranean, the pea has spread throughout Europe and has not only been cooked since the 17th century, but also eaten fresh.

Appearance and growth

Peas are annual herbaceous plants that grow 25 to 2 meters high depending on the variety. Their thin stems have one to three-pinnate, feathered, oval leaves that end up in a winding tendril. At the lateral roots, the peas form nitrogen-collecting nodule bacteria (Rhizobium leguminosarum). In May, the white flowers originate from the leaf axils of the middle and upper leaves. From these in turn develop the striking green pods, inside of which the slightly spherical four to ten seeds sit on small stems.

Peas buds flowering time

Peas are not only tasty and healthy, but with their flowering also a beautiful bed ornament

Location and ground

Peas thrive on fine-crumbly and humus-rich soils particularly well, to heavy and especially wet soils cause problems. Sandy or loamy soils can be improved by incorporating compost. Furthermore, an open and sunny place is ideal.

Crop rotation and mixed culture

As they clear the beds early, peas are well suited as a preculture. For a long time, the legume has been cultivated preferentially in alternating crops with cereals, while it is incompatible with other legumes or nightshade plants. In order to avoid losses in the yield and diseases, a cultivation break of three, better five years should be kept in the bed.


When sowing peas, it is best to place one grain every three to five centimeters in approximately three centimeters deep seed furrows (row spacing 40 centimeters) and then press the soil slightly. Tip: Until the cotyledons pierce the earth, you can cover the bed against scuffling blackbirds with a fleece or net. A permanent edition peas but not tolerate.

Sowing peas

Peas are best sown at a distance of three to five centimeters into three centimeters deep Saatrillen


Peas can, as I said, sown directly or preferred and then planted. Depending on the variety you plant the peas at a different time. While palerbos are slightly more robust, and can be sown at ground temperatures of two to five degrees Celsius, marrow and sugar peas should only be in the bed at about eight degrees Celsius from the beginning of April. In harsh regions, pre-culture of seedlings may be worthwhile two weeks before the desired planting date. For this are pot plates, with two seeds per pot are stored. A uniform soil moisture promotes the emergence of the seeds, wetness is undesirable. As soon as the bales are well rooted, the seedlings are planted at a distance of eight to ten centimeters in the row.


Once the peas have risen, you should regularly hack, mulch if necessary and pile up slightly after 14 days - which increases the stability in the bed. In addition, the plants then form more roots and leave a feinkr├╝melige, nitrogen-rich soil for subcultures such as cabbage or fruit vegetables. As a simple climbing aid for up to 80 centimeters high pea varieties you put freshly cut or dry, strong hazel rods cross about 20 centimeters deep into the ground. A purchased wooden scissors can be adjusted in length and height. You can also pull peas in double rows.
The soil is initially only moderately moist. From the flower formation and the sleeve development, a uniform soil moisture ensures a good yield. Additional fertilization during the growing season is not necessary as the butterfly plants feed themselves with their nitrogen-collecting nodule bacteria.

Harvest and recovery

pea tendril

Appetizing: a healthy pea ready for harvest

The harvest maturity depends on the pea species, but starts in some species in May. Early dwarf varieties mature in about twelve weeks, the higher-yielding main varieties need an average of 14 weeks to harvest. For peas, the grains should be apple green and round globular. Puff out the seeds of marrow peas quickly, as long as the grains in the pods are still milky-tender and sweet. When stored in the pods, the grains ripen. This converts sugar into tasteless starch.
In general, there are three types of peas: pal or pea peas, marrow peas and sugar peas.Pea peas remain tender for only a short time and, due to their high starch content, tend to become more flour. Sugar peas, in which one eats the whole pod, on the other hand, taste best when the young seeds in the pod just start to emerge. Both the pea pods and young peas need to be riped frequently, about once or twice a week, as the quality of overgrowth fruits rapidly deteriorates. In the refrigerator, the peas are stable for two to three days. If you do not tear down the roots after harvesting, but only chop off the tendrils, summer vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes or broccoli also benefit from the pre-culture.

sweet peas

The shell of sugar peas can be eaten

Palms have large, smooth, round grains. Their seeds are strong. Although they can be eaten fresh, they are more commonly used as dry peas. For this purpose, dipped dried raspberries into water overnight or boiled and prepared from soups or purees. Pea seeds taste, as long as they are young and green, very nutty-sweet and tender. They can be consumed fresh as well as frozen. In old age, they become hard and wrinkled. Sugar peas are very sweet due to their high sugar content. You have to be harvested very young. Since they have no parchment layer in the sleeve in contrast to the other two types, they can be eaten together with the pods.
Basically, peas are very high fiber and have a higher protein and mineral content than many other vegetables. Therefore, they are particularly suitable for a vegetarian diet. In addition, you can dry Schal- and Markerbsen and store well. One reason why in the past you often made a winter supply of peas.

variety Tips

Peas are distinguished by three groups, as already mentioned. Depending on the use you decide for the pea species and variety. Other selection criteria are early-onset (very early to late maturity), sleeve size and number of grains per pod.

smooth peas

As Palerbsensorte 'small Rhinelander' has proven. It can be sown as early as March, only about 35 inches high and does not need to be supported. Another early variety is 'Early Harzerin'. The starchy grains of the peas are very suitable for drying. The young grains also taste fresh, later they become floury.


Real peanut counting: Pea peas must be cut out of the pod after harvesting

Mark peas

Mark peas, on the other hand, contain more sugar. The nutty-sweet seeds are eaten raw and used for stews, soups or as a vegetable garnish. Freezing works well, you should dry Markerbsen only for their own seed. Unlike Palerbsen, they will not soften even after prolonged cooking. A well known high yield pea seed variety is 'Kelvedon Wonders'. Their seeds taste sweet and can be eaten raw. 'Alderman' is a late variety that is also grown frequently. The historical variety 'Cosse Violet' is picked as long as the grains in the purple pods are still milky-tender and sweet.

sweet peas

Sugar peas are enjoying increasing popularity again. And not only because of their high sugar content and sweet taste, but also because the laborious Auspalen the grains deleted. Unlike shellfish and pea peas, sugar peas do not develop an inedible parchment layer. They are prepared with the sleeve. 'Oregon Sugar Pod' is particularly productive with large, dark pods. 'Early Henry' is a tasty and robust sugar-berry variety. The Zuckerschote 'Zuccola' is up to 1.50 meters high and requires a climbing aid made of wire mesh or twigs.
Only a few varieties offer a multiple use: In 'Delikata', the early-picked pods are tender as mangetout, later you remove the now tough casing and peel the grains like peas. The almost forgotten capuchin pea, like the traditional variety 'Blauwschokkers', is very versatile in culinary terms. Young pods are eaten as mangetouts, later you eat the soft seeds or let them mature and dry them as before for the stock.

Pea pods in a bowl

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Peas: seeds

Peas: peas

Peas: variety


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The most popular pea varieties

Peas: seeds

The medium-aged pea variety 'Oasis'

Peas: pods

'Bingo', a lower Markerbse

Peas: seeds

The Palerbse 'Little Rhinelander' has plump pods with up to ten grains

Peas: peas

Capuchin peas fall immediately into the eye through the deep blue shell and the two-colored, red-purple flowers. The classic 'Blauwschokker' is as popular as Palerbse as young as Zuckerschote

Pea pods in a bowl

Mark pea pods


Capuchin pea blue wschokker


Peas are annuals, so they have to be sown year after year. To replant your plants by sowing, remove some fruit at harvest time and let the seeds dry for the upcoming season. How to sow them correctly, read further above under the heading "Sowing".

Diseases and pests

When growing peas you should definitely pay attention to the cultivation periods of three to five years, in order to prevent diseases and pests. In addition, you should pay attention to open and sunny beds and do without nitrogen fertilizer. The most dreaded disease is the powdery mildew, a fungus that occurs in dry and warm weather in early summer. On the leaves, a flour-like coating forms, which leaves the leaves gray-brown and withered. Especially with late sowings and nitrogen fertilization the danger increases. Meanwhile, there are also tolerant varieties, such as 'delicacies'.
In addition, the focal spot disease, also a fungus, can harm the vegetables. The disease can be recognized at brown spots on stems, leaves and pods, which usually occur in damp weather. You should clear away infected plants at the end of culture clean. Yellow to brown pustules on the leaves in summer indicate the pea rust. As a countermeasure, avoid excessive leaf wetness. In addition, a wind-open location and cultivation in mixed culture can reduce the infestation.
One of the most striking pests is the pea miner fly. The white feedings of the larvae leave bizarre leaf patterns. Because the yield is hardly affected, it is sufficient to pluck and dispose of infected leaves.
Annoying harvest losses caused by the pea winder. He lays his eggs on the flowers. Tiny caterpillars with black head and white body hatch within the pods, eat them from the inside and pollute the pods with their feces. They are hard to fight. Preventive sows early (late March / early April) or late in May, so that the flower and pod formation does not coincide with the flight times of the moths.
Another pest is the pea beetle, which eats through the pod into the seeds, rendering them useless. To avoid this, you can sort out infected seeds before sowing and clear the beds cleanly to prevent hibernation of the pest.

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