Top Of The Crops - Peas and Mange Tout

Peas & Mange Tout Growing Guide

Do you have wholesome childhood memories of munching on peas straight from the pod? Nothing tastes fresher and more delicious than a handful of garden peas, harvested in the summer. Perfect in soups, curries, risottos, and on their own as a snack, peas and mange tout are a delightful crop for gardeners at all levels. If you have peas leftover at the end of the season, they freeze beautifully. Best of all, they are nitrogen fixers, which means that they will actually improve the soil in your garden, and help other plants thrive. That’s why peas are so popular in crop rotation planning!

Even if you are unsure if the conditions in your garden are right for peas and mange tout, you can improve their chances of survival with a polytunnel. Polytunnels protect your harvest and make the entire process so much easier – they’re perfect for novices and seasoned pros alike. Read ahead to learn all about how to grow peas and mange tout, a delightful and delicious crop.


How to Grow Peas and Mange Tout

Peas are an easy-going plant that do well in moist, free-draining soil. Plant them in a sunny area of your garden for the best results. Various types of peas will thrive when planted at different times of the year. With just a little bit of careful planning, you can plant them in succession and have these healthy veggies from June to October![i] We love planting a mix of heritage seed varieties, mange tout, English peas, and sugar snap peas for a nice variety throughout the year.

Are you looking for the easiest pea varieties to grow? We suggest mange tout, sugar snaps, and dwarf versions of shelling peas.

Follow these steps to grow peas and mange tout:

  1. Support - Before you plant your pea seedlings or seeds in your garden, think about how you will support their vines. Trellises, sticky twigs, canes, and netting can all be used to support your growing peas. Get these into place before you sow any seeds, as pea roots do not like to be disturbed.
  2. Prep the soil - Select a spot in your garden that is sunny and has good drainage. If the soil is too acidic, lime the ground before planting. Peas thrive in cool climes, but if you are experiencing a colder than average spring, lay down polythene to warm the soil before sowing. After you plant seeds or seedlings, use horticultural fleece or polytunnels suitable for growing peas to protect them if weather is too cold.[ii]
  3. Make a trench - Use a draw hoe to make a flat-bottomed trench approximately 5cm deep and 15cm wide. Sow each seed around 7.5cm apart and then cover with soil, gently firming it. If you plant additional trenches, make them as far away from each other as the plant is predicted to be tall. That is, if the peas plants are expected to be 1.5 metres tall, leave at least 1.5 metres between each trench.
  4. Water them well - When you see your plants begin to flower, water them well and add a layer of mulch around the base of each plant. That will support them and keep them well hydrated as they grow.
  5. Don’t disturb your roots - We don’t recommend disturbing your pea roots. If you are plagued with pests attacking your plants before germination, you can try sowing them in toilet roll tubes.[iii] Burying the tubes into the soil allows you to plant them indoors, and then you can transplant them into the garden without any root disruption. If you have a problem with birds, try using a polytunnel.
  6. Most peas take 60 to 70 days to grow - You’ll notice that your shelling peas and mange tout are ready to harvest when they’re the right size, which usually takes around 60 to 70 days.


Planting peas in a pot

It’s also possible to grow peas in a container, but do remember that your yield will be smaller and that they require a lot more water, around three times daily.[iv] You’ll also need to fertilise the soil regularly to replace the nutrients that are lost during irrigation. That said, it’s a perfect way to grow plants on a balcony, or as a fun project for kids. We think that a dwarf variety is your best choice, as it won’t overwhelm your space or get too big for your pot.

Choose your preferred container and ensure that it is at least 30 cm across, and that it has three to five drainage holes (you can make these with a hammer and a nail). Add soil to the container, leaving a few centimetres at the top. Space your pea seeds 5cm apart, approximately 3cm below the soil. Water them well, and add a few centimetres of mulch.


Don’t forget pea shoots!

Remember to grow a few pea shoots on your windowsill – you’ll love their fresh flavour in salads![v]


Growing peas in a polytunnel

Maybe you have tried to grow peas in the past but given up when they failed or were attacked by birds, and now you’ve given up. Give it another try with a polytunnel!  Peas do exceptionally well in polytunnels, which helps to keep them warm and protected from birds. Even the least experienced gardeners will have a lot of success and enjoy peas throughout the entire growing season. A polytunnel lets you grow peas in any climate and harvest them for a broader period of time. That’s because they allow you to control the humidity, ventilation, temperature, and irrigation where you sow your peas. You’ll have a bumper crop sooner than you ever imagined!


How to harvest peas

You can harvest your peas by hand, or with a pair of gardening shears. Clip or pluck them by the thin stem at the top of the pod.



When should you sow and harvest your peas?

Planting Time

March to April

Harvesting Time

July to August


Sowing your peas and mange tout: Sow your pea seeds in March or April on a clear day with no driving rain. If you worry about germination rates, you can soak your peas overnight before you sow them. Remember that round pea seeds tend to be hardier than wrinkly seeds. As a result, they’re better for earlier sowing, and wrinkled seeds are better for sweeter summer planting.[vi] 

Harvesting your peas and mange tout: You’ll be ready to harvest peas and mange tout by July and August.Harvest mange tout and sugar snaps when they are big enough and enjoy eating them whole! They make a great addition to salads, stir-fries, and crudité platters. Prolong your harvest by picking them regularly. Harvest your shelling peas when the pods are chubby, and you can see the round peas inside. However, don’t let them get too big, as they can taste woody and bitter.


Every gardener should try growing peas

Peas are a delicious crop that is actually fun to grow, and even more fun to harvest! Try growing a few different varieties next year. We love the Kelvedon Wonder early peas, Oregon Sugar Pod mange tout, and the Balmoral late maincrop. Which will you grow?


Reference list

BBC Gardening (2014). BBC - Gardening - Gardening Guides - Techniques - Growing peas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2020].

Chivers, R. (2016). How to make toilet roll seed pots. [online] Sharpen your Spades. Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2020].

Dove, H. and McHale, E. (2020). Best vegetables to grow on your windowsill | Kew. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2020].

Grant, A. (2020). StackPath. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2020].

Old Farmer’s Almanac (2019). Peas. [online] Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Royal Horticultural Society (2018). Fleece and crop covers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2020].