There are dwarf and taller pea varieties. Although plants of the short, dwarf varieties may be grown without supports it is the custom to provide all garden peas with supports of some sort. Twiggy brushwood of the height the plants will attain is much liked by gardeners. Bamboo canes linked together with strong thread or garden twine often replace the traditional brushwood. Garden netting for pea growing is offered at garden shops and by horticultural retailers. The tall supports needed by tall growers should be augmented by several strong, tall stakes to prevent strong winds in summer from blowing down the plant when bearing their heavy crops.
Seed is sown in a 5cm (2in) deep furrow, which is 16-20cm (6-8in) wide, made with the draw hoe. The seeds are sprinkled thinly into the furrow so that each seed is about 7cm (3in) from the next. Should the soil be dry, the furrow should be flooded with water and sowing undertaken when this has drained away. After sowing, the seeds are covered with soil raked over them. During the raking any large stones should be removed. The distances between rows of peas vary. It is generally accepted that the distances between the rows should be the same as the height of the variety being grown, but with very dwarf peas 75cm (30in) between rows is the rule. Supports, if to hand, should be set in a position immediately after the seed has been sown. The tendrils of the pea plant cannot grasp thick supports and where these 1 are in use young pea plants are encouraged to climb by the insertion of 2 short pieces of twiggy wood on either side of the row. The twigs also afford some protection to the young plants by breaking the force of cold winds.
Pea seeds and pea seedlings are attractive to birds and black cotton or small mesh chicken wire are useful protectors. The wire mesh should be removed when the seedlings are 10cm (4in) tall. The old-fashioned scarecrow is a useful bird deterrent as are large polythene bags fixed to tall stakes. Where mice are known to take freshly-sown seeds, traps should be set or a proprietary poison used with care and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Slugs are a great nuisance in some gardens and a slug bait may have to be laid down. Weevils also attack pea seedlings. Weevil damage may be distinguished from that caused by slugs. Leaves bitten by weevils have a scalloped-like shape. Hoeing around the rows regularly and the dusting of the plants when dry with derris powder or soot are ways of combating weevils.