Nothing compares to eating tender sweet peas straight from the plant growing in your garden. Pea plants produce more pods and resist disease better if you give them structural support with a trellis. It's also a lot easier to harvest peas when they are climbing a trellis, rather than sprawling across the garden. Designing your own trellis gives you a chance to be creative and add visual interest to your vegetable garden.
Light plants, such as peas, can be successfully grown up a trellis made of string. Begin by making a frame, using three lengths of 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) wood posts or PVC pipe. Fasten the pieces together in a U shape, and hammer the ends into the ground around the bed where you plan to grow your peas. Beginning at one of the top corners, tie the end of garden twine around the corner and triple knot it. If you are using a wood frame, nail or staple the knot to the wood for extra support. Then wrap the string across the two beams, side to side, until you reach the planting bed. Tie another knot at the bottom and cut the string. Next, tie the end of your twine to the lowest string, about 15 cm (6 inches) from the frame. From there, you can either weave the string between the horizontal strings up to the top of the frame or, for more strength, tie a new knot each time the vertical string touches a horizontal string. Repeat across the frame until you have created a grid.
Arches and arbors
You don't have to grow peas straight up and down in a garden bed. Work them into the landscape of your garden for visual interest while they are flowering. Pre-made trellises, arbors and arches are available at most home improvement and DIY shops. Start your peas early, on both sides of the arch or arbor, under cloches until the weather warms up and the risk of losing seed to parasites passes. The pea plants will work their way up the sides to the top and possibly start heading back down the other side. The pea pods on the top of the arch will hang down for easy harvesting.
Recycle a large old window frame as a base for a pea plant trellis. Use one large frame, or connect two or three smaller frames to create a trellis that will be tall enough for your peas. Stretch chicken wire or hardware cloth across the frame and attach it with staples along the edges of the frame. Attach the frame itself to the borders of a raised bed, or lean it against the side of a house or other structure; your pea plants will happily climb up.
Peas don't have to grow in the ground; cultivate them in hanging baskets to make space in your garden for other plants. Hang the baskets high so the pea plants dangle over the sides, making harvesting easy. Hanging the baskets lower and training the vines to climb the chains supporting the basket encourages the pea plants to grow upwards as they would normally do. Either way, planting peas in hanging pots or baskets frees up precious garden space for other veggies and creates vertical interest.
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