Pea shoots are easy to grow and lovely to eat, and once you’ve cropped the pea shoots they will shoot again, and again. You don’t need a garden, allotment, or greenhouse, as the peas will shoot in almost darkness, though they will be fleshier with sunlight. They can be grown on a window ledge, inside or out.They grow so fast, and taste so good that they are a great way to introduce kids to growing home grown veg. without the need for a garden.
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What You Need
1 – A suitable small container
2 – Compost
3 – Dried peas
4 – Window ledge or similar
What You Need to Do
1 – Find a free draining container about 5cm (2 inches) deep, or deeper. The plastic containers which mushrooms are sold in are ideal. Cut, drill or melt some drain holes in it.
plastic mushroom container
2 – Half fill the container with compost then sprinkle dried peas on the surface quite densely.
half full and sprinkled densely
Cover the peas with compost so that the container is about three quarters full. Most dried peas will work but different varieties have slightly different flavours and textures. Dried marrowfat peas, which are popular with mushy pea eaters, are ideal, and cheap, but you can also use other types of pea, home grown or imported. It’s good fun experimenting.
The reason for only filling to three quarters full with compost is so that there is a space between the compost and the container rim, so that when you cut your crop there remains enough of the remaining stem, from which new growth can easily sprout.
3 – Water well and then wait, but don’t let the compost dry out or the pea shoots will be tough. Place the container somewhere warm and light, but not in direct sun or the peas will steam cook in the compost and then rot. Once the peas have sprouted they can be put in sunlight. In summer the peas will come in a few days and be big enough for eating a few days after that, but you can leave them to get much bigger if you like.
stages of pea shoot growing
4 – Cropping your pea shoots. You can crop them while they are short and soft, ideal for eating raw. After cropping, keep the compost moist and the peas will shoot again, if there is goodness left in the compost.
Use pea shoots raw in salads, or with dips, or chop them up and add to soups and stews. They are also good stir fried.
pea sprouts which are almost too big but perfect for chopping up and adding to soups and stews.
Anybody can grow peas!
Give peas a chance!
This video was made in support of the above article:
Growing with kids, and lesson ideas
Subjects which may be introduced along with pea sprouts:
Farming, irrigation, and where foods come from.
Growing from seed, plant care, watering.
Soils and fertilisers, (peas are a natural nitrogen fixer).
Pollination and bees.
Cycle of life – growing from a pea to make more peas.
Food preservation techniques (drying)
Recycling and improvisation.
Generating compost / wormery.
Food miles and growing locally.
Suitable growing containers
Though a recycled mushroom container is ideal, and a minimum size for a decent crop for home use, a much smaller container can be used when growing for fun, one that will take three, four or five peas at a time e.g. small plant pot or yoghurt pot.
As pea shoots can easily be grown in all manner of recycled containers it is an opportunity to introduce practical recycling, and improvisation. Containers of a suitable size can be brought from home, for example a yoghurt pot, or similar. A few peas can be planted in each.
If recycled containers aren’t an option then each little grower could be issued with a plastic cup each instead, but tiny plastic plant pots are very cheap to buy from £1 shops.
Containers must have drain holes particularly when being watered by kids (who may lacking physical control or manual dexterity), or who may just be very enthusiastic about watering.
Drains holes need to be made by an adult either by poking something sharp through the base or, and this is a much better option, by melting holes through the base using a hot nail which has been held in a flame. You will need a pair of pliers to hold the hot nail. There’s no need to do plastic cups individually as a stack of four of five can be done in one go.
Compost is sold by the litre so its fairly easy to work out how much your containers will need. A 10 litre bag of compressed compost will cost between £2 and £3 pounds, and 25 litre bag between £5 and £7. The cheapest way is to get gardening parents to donate a sandwich bag full, or see if your local garden centre might help out.
If you have a school garden with its own compost area or a wormery then the contents of the composter is a good option, a great use for the compost, recycling the kids can see.
A small box of dried peas (containing hundreds of peas) can be bought very cheaply from a grocers or supermarket.
So even if you had to buy everything you could have a whole class growing peas sprouts for less than a fiver, and for less than a quid (the cost of the dried peas) if you use recycled materials.
Anybody can grow peas!
I’d love to know how you get on.