Introduction to Growing Organic Peas in Containers
Pea plants are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. The Peas are grown quickly and don’t need much attention. However, Pea plants do need full sunlight and the soil needs to be kept moist, which can be more difficult when plants are growing in a container garden. Pea plants are the perfect vegetable to grow in a container garden. In this article, we also discuss the below topics;
- Pea plants growing tips
- Caring for Peas in pots
- How much time it takes Peas to grow
- Do Peas need full sun to grow
- Why are my Pea plants turning brown?
- Why won’t my Pea seeds germinate
- Pea seed germination period
- How often do you water Peas in containers
A Step By Step Guide to Growing Organic Peas in Containers
Different Varieties of Peas
There are 3 varieties of Peas;
Garden or English Pea – Garden or English Pea plants are the most common variety of Pea plants. The plants are grown for their pods, which are then shelled to release the plump Peas inside. Depending on the plant variety they have a moderate to intense sweet taste. Plant cultivars such as Tom Thumb, Little Marvel, and Early Frost are particularly suited to container gardens.
Snow Peas – Snow Peas are also sweet but also small. The pods of snow Peas are edible. Snow Peas are used in soups, salads, or stir-fries.
Sugar Snap Pea – Sugar Snap Pea plants are a cross between the first two plant varieties. The versatile variety they can be shelled or used in their pods. The cultivar Oregon Sugar Pod does well in container gardens.
Organic Soil Preparation for Growing Peas in Containers
Pea plants grow best at pH 6.5. If the pH level is less than 5.5 liming is essential. Healthy soil is the basis of growing organic Peas. For container gardeners, an average potting soil amended with perlite will work fine for growing Pea plants. Organic gardening begins with the soil. You should create a rich and healthy environment full of micro-nutrients and beneficial bugs and insects so plants can grow without the need for pesticides or chemical fertilizer. Think of the soil as a living entity that you have to feed so that it can maintain life sources. To create healthy soil, you need “organic matter,” like a cow or chicken manure, dried plant matter such as leaves and grasses, and decomposing green matter, like previous crops that you dig under the soil and bury. The organic matter breaks down to create healthy and nutrient-rich soil. Plants grow best when temperature levels are between 15-23°C. Each spring season; mix plenty of organic compost into your garden area.
Choosing ContainerS for Growing Organic Peas
As with all container gardening tips, selecting the right pot or gardening container will increase your chances of successfully growing Peas in containers. When planting Peas in containers, remember Pea plants only have a shallow root system. Then, this means that when you grow Peas, they happily grow in moderately deep planters. While depth isn’t a necessity, width is more important when you grow Peas. This means that you can successfully grow Pea plants in window boxes or troughs.
The variety of Pea plants you select to grow will also have some influence on which pot you choose. Space the plants 3-5 inches apart and dwarf varieties can be planted to a depth of just 6 inches. The size of the pot will mainly depend on the types of Peas and their varieties you’re growing. For tall and large bushier varieties, select pots that are 8 to 12 inches deep. Maintain the spacing of about 3 to 5 inches between each plant. Ensure better drainage and promote airflow.
Peas can be sown directly in containers or pots. Many climbing plant varieties require a trellis or other climbing structures for successful plant growth, so it is crucial to add one to your pot. Place containers in partial shade and water regularly, as Peas thrive best in cooler temperature levels. Adding a layer of mulch to the container will help to regulate the temperature of plants and maintain moisture levels.
Process of Organic Growing Peas in Containers from Seed
Growing Peas from seeds is easy, and it requires a few steps given below;
Step 1) Sow Pea seeds 1 or 2 inches apart in the seed mix or directly in the desired pots, an inch or two deep. If Pea’s seedlings don’t transplant well, you can plant them when they’re 4-5 inches tall.
Step 2) You can scatter the seeds briskly over the growing medium and later cover them with the soil with no more than a 1-inch layer.
Step 3) Water well to keep the soil moist but not wet. Keep the germinating Pea seeds in part sun to full sun.
Step 4) Pea seeds will germinate in a window of 7 to 30 days; it depends on the soil temperature. Temperatures above 15°C expedite the germination.
Step 5) You can also soak the pea seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing to speed up the germination process and pre-treat them with liquid seaweed for better growth. If you like, at the time of planting Pea seeds, add legume inoculant in the soil or make a slurry with the inoculant and then mix with seeds. It increases the productivity and health of Peas.
Gardening Tips for Growing Organic Peas in Containers
- Pea plants grow best in well-drained soil rich in nitrogen and aged compost. Sow Peas in raised beds in the spring season or where the soil is heavy or drains poorly. Peas are light feeders and don’t require fertilizer.
- For bush Pea varieties, space rows about 2 feet apart; plant climbing pea varieties in rows 3 feet apart or in double rows about 6-8 inches apart with a Pea trellis for support. Allow 3 feet between each double row. A layer of compost worked into the soil at planting time will give plenty of nutrients, and mulching the surface of the soil will prevent moisture loss.
- Soak Pea seed before planting in liquid kelp or compost tea to help prevent disease and speed germination. To promote nitrogen fixation and increase plant yields, treat seed with an inoculant before planting directly in the garden.
- Water deeply once a week. The critical time for watering is when the Pea plants are blossoming and producing pods. When pods are maturing in hot weather, water the plant daily if needed to maintain pod quality.
- Peas will be ready for harvest about 3 weeks after blossoms appear. Then, pick Peas every day to encourage a greater harvest.
Growing Peas in a Container Organically
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- Peas prefer sandy loam soil that drains well but will tolerate most soils except heavy clay. A soil pH level of 6.0-7.5 is preferred. Where soil is acidic, apply dolomite or agricultural lime.
- Pot-grown Peas require more water than garden-grown Peas, possibly up to 3 times a day.
- First of all, select the Pea variety you wish to plant. Almost all Pea varieties, from snap Peas to shelling Peas, can be container grown; you may wish to choose a dwarf or bush variety.
- Peas are a warm-season crop, so growing Peas in a container should begin in the spring season when temperature levels warm to over 16°C. Almost any container will work as long as you have drainage holes and measures at least 12 inches across.
- Then, fill the container with soil leaving a 1-inch space at the top. Space the Pea seeds about 2 inches apart and 1 inch beneath the soil. Water in thoroughly and top with a 1-inch layer of mulch such as compost or wood chips. Keep the seeds in a lightly shaded area until germination (9-13 days) at which time you should move the plants to full sun exposure.
Organic Fertilizers for Growing Peas in Containers
For growing Peas, you may prefer to use organic fertilizers, such as well-rotted or dehydrated manure or bone meal. Spread a 1 to 2-inch layer over your raised beds and work in the material. If you use local manure for Pea plants, be sure it’s well-aged. Also, you can work in an organic fertilizer such as compost or well-rotted manure. Apply the organic matter by side-dressing and do this twice during the growing period.
Do Peas Need a Lot of Water?
Pea plants should be watered carefully once or twice weekly. Be sure that the top inch of soil has become dry between watering. Water the Pea plants deeply, and always allow any excess to drain freely. During flowering and pod production, the Pea plants may need to be watered more frequently. Container-grown Peas need a greater supply of water compared to garden-grown Peas. When it comes to watering the plant, provide constantly moist potting soil that’s never soggy. After the flowers begin to bloom, make sure you provide enough water for the plants to develop well.
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Organic Pests and Diseases Control in Growing Peas in Containers
Fusarium wilt – Fusarium wilt disease attacks a plant from inside, leaving it unable to move water through its stem and leaves. Watering in the morning is helpful to control Fusarium wilt disease in Peas. Also, remove any affected plants immediately to keep wilt from spreading to other plants.
Cutworms – Cutworms are a big problem for vegetables and flowers, including Peas. Cutworms come in many different types and colors. They are caterpillars that are hairless and around 2 inches long. One cutworm can eat all the foliage of one plant in a night and then move on to its next meal. One method to get rid of cutworms is to pick them off by hand and destroy them. Another method is using Bacillus thuringiensis also called Bt. Bt is a natural way to destroy many types of caterpillars and not harm beneficial.
Cabbage looper – The cabbage looper disease is the caterpillar of a greyish moth with a silver spot in the middle of each wing. The eggs are dome-shaped, light green, and are laid on the underside of the plant leaves.
Aphids and thrips can deform the plant leaves or Peapods, so spray them with a non-toxic, insecticidal soap. Silvery webs on the undersides of leaves can be the work of spider mites, which can also be sprayed with insecticidal soap.
Pea weevils emerge in spring and lay their eggs in your Pea seeds. Once hatched the larvae munch on the seeds, creating holes in leaves, wiping out most of your crop before they can even sprout. Insecticides are useless since the larvae can’t be affected; therefore, the adults should be eradicated.
Using a garden fabric or row cover is one of the best methods to prevent Pea weevils. Then, you can use wood ash or diatomaceous earth to help control larvae and adults alike.
Organic Control of Pets and Diseases in Peas Plants;
- Cover the pea plants with insect netting (floating row covers) from when they are babies. Then, this will help to prevent them from becoming an issue.
- Use organic pesticides such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Bt is a naturally occurring microorganism that kills caterpillars without harming butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. There are varied opinions regarding the safety of Bt, but it’s classified as an organic treatment and is certainly safer than using a more toxic pesticide.
Here are some of the natural pesticides;
Neem (Azadirachta Indica) extract has been found effective in the management of insects, pests, and nematodes. Neem is effective against grasshoppers, leafhoppers, planthoppers, aphids, jassids, beetle larvae, whiteflies, mealybug, scale insects, fruit maggots, spider mites, and moth caterpillars. You can buy Neem Cake from a nursery, dilute it with water and spray it on your plants.
Fermented Buttermilk is also used to get rid of whiteflies, aphids, and jassids, etc.
The chilli-garlic extract is effective against leaf roller, stem/fruit/pot borer. Crush green chillies, garlic cloves, neem leaves into a nice paste and add water to it and spray on the leaves to get rid of pests.
Other Problems for Organic Growing Peas in Containers
Poor germination – usually due to overwatering before seeds have time to germinate or incorrect soil temperature (too hot or too cold).
No Flowers – too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer was applied.
Flowers but no pods develop – It can be due to poor pollination (encourage bees by planting more flowering plants), frost damage, or regular hot weather causing flower failure.
Some environmental factors that can cause Pea plants to turn brown color include heat and hail. Peas are a cool-season crop, so they cannot withstand temperatures above 26°C. At this temperature that Pea plants stop producing flowers and pods; they also turn brown color, wilt, and die. Hail damage can cause damage to Pea pods by bruising them, which causes brown color spots. Hail also damages tissues of stems, which causes decay of stems and other plant parts.
When and How to Harvest Peas
Pods are ready to pick about 3 weeks after flowers appear. Pick daily to keep the plants productive. Favoring the cool temperatures of spring and early summer they are one of the earliest crops to be harvested. Gardeners in cooler climates will be able to enjoy a supply of fresh Peas throughout the year.
Growing Peas in containers is a great addition to any container garden. As long as you remember to provide support and then water regularly, growing in containers is a largely trouble-free, low maintenance solution. For best flavor, eat fresh or refrigerate immediately after harvest the peas. Peas can be blanched in boiling water and frozen for up to 6 months.
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