Being as we’re having such a cold spring, I thought I’d get my peas started inside. Generally I’ve just sown direct but this year they’ll be very slow to get going outside. I’ve used the length of guttering method before but didn’t find it particularly successful compared with direct sowing under cloche. Cloches are not an option here, they’d blow away!
I’m using a method that was shown to me by John Carver, an excellent grower, some years ago with a few tweaks of my own.
Soak the Peas
I started by putting the peas into soak in tepid water for a couple of hours. Even in that short time, the seeds actually swell a little. This early absorption of water should kickstart the germination process.
Fill ½ Size Seed Trays with Compost
Whilst the peas were soaking, I filled half-size seed trays with a standard multi-purpose compost and firmed it down using the sowing tool explained below. Then I put the seed trays into a deep gravel tray with water in it, removing the seed trays when the compost at the surface felt damp rather than soaking.
The sowing tool is just a piece of board, could be plywood, mdf or what have you, with holes drilled through and a handle. The handle on mine is a bit tatty because I broke the original off and just used an offcut from the wood box.
The peas are popped into the holes and the board lifted, leaving the peas perfectly placed. Move the board slightly – there’s a little play between it and the sides of the seed tray – then press the seeds down. This ensures that there is good contact between seed and soil.
Cover loosely to the top of the tray with more compost and then water lightly using a fine rose on the can. Place in a propagator set to between 18º and 24º C. Seedling emergence should take place in 3 to 8 days. Once seedlings start to appear take off heat, keeping them under glass until true leaves appear . Then harden off for a few days before planting out.
On planting out, place pea sticks for the tendrils to grab onto.
Because I’m tight for propagator space, I’ve got them under my brassica seed trays. I need to check at least daily and move things about at the first sign of seedlings. Even if they come off heat a little early, the seeds should have started germinating by then anyway.