Peas require a sunny, position with well-drained but rich soil with a neutral ph, so if yours is at all acidic, the ground should be limed a few weeks before sowing.
Ideally, the ground would be dug and manured the autumn before sowing, but if you have good garden soil, a thin dressing of good garden compost or well-rotted manure just before sowing is adequate. This will help to improve the soil’s moisture-retaining ability during hot, dry summers.
Pea Onward is a variety that is best sown in the spring. For best results wait until the soil has warmed up, usually around the middle of March - May, depending where you live. Covering the area to be sown with a cloche of layer of fleece in early Spring will help warm up the soil, and bring forward sowing by a couple of weeks.
Peas grow fast, and the plants will not crop all season, so it is best to make successive sowings every 2 - 3 weeks.
Starting Pea Seeds Indoors: To grow an early crop, many people sow seeds in a length of gutter. Place in a greenhouse or cold frame. The plants can be planted out into the garden once the seedlings have established and the weather is warmer, by gently sliding the pea seedlings into it.
Very early sowings of peas will benefit from protection.
Sowing Direct: You will get best results from pea seeds by sowing direct into the growing position. Howeverif you sow into cold or wet conditions the seeds will rot. It is best to wait a few weeks to enable the soil to warm up if direct sowing.
Sow seed in a single row 5 to 10cm (2 to 4in) apart, ensuring there is enough space for plant supports. Make a single V-shaped drill, 5cm (2in) deep, water the base of the drill and sow the peas. A second row can be added, as long as it’s 30cm (12in) away from the first drill.
It is important to have room to get between the rows to pick - 3ft is probably the minimum and 6ft is ideal. If using the latter spacing, a crop of radish or lettuce can be grown in the gap, to be harvested before you start picking the peas.
Water your peas well after sowing, and then leave them - except in very dry weather - until they flower, when they should have a really good soak to encourage good pod formation. Keep them weeded until well established.
All but the most dwarf varieties need support. Once peas have reached, 5 to 8cm (2 to 3in) in height and their tendrils begin to reach out for support, place supports next to plants. Use bamboo canes, pea sticks, trellis, netting, chicken wire or use any garden pruning that produces twiggy branches.
Regular picking is essential for a truly fresh pea. The more you harvest, the more they will produce. Harvest from the bottom of the plant working upwards. Do not pull up the plant as the roots are full of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Peas are a useful part of the gardener's vegetable rotation. Cut off the stems at ground level, and allow the roots to rot down and release nitrogen back into the soil. The nitrogen can be taken up by the crop that follows them - usually a brassica such as cabbage.