Following Peas through the seasons

food stories

Peas Background

Peas or more specifically vining peas or grown to produce frozen peas that we all know and love. These peas are grown on contract to companies such as Birds Eye who produce frozen peas. They give the farmer very specific instructions about growing the crop such as when to sow the seeds. This is to ensure that the harvest can be managed so the peas are harvested get to the factory and frozen within 90 minutes of harvest thus freezing in their sweetness.

Seasonality of Peas

Peas are a spring sown crop. Although the land maybe prepared in the autumn.

Autumn to Early Spring


Preparing field for Peas.

As peas are a member of the legume family they have nodules on their roots which contain bacteria that can ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air to provide the plants with all the nitrogen they need so the farmer does not need to apply any artificial nitrogen and generally no phosphate or potash either. This makes peas a easier crop to grow as fertiliser is not usually needed. So in the autumn the farmer will prepare the land for spring sowing of peas by ploughing the land.

Watch ‘Ploughing ‘  in video player above playvideo

Making a seedbed

The ploughed land needs to be broken down into small lumps so make an ideal tilth or seedbed for the pea seeds.

Watch ‘seedbed ‘  in video player above playvideo

Spring – Summer

Planting or drilling seed

Once the farmer is happy with the seedbed he will drill or plant the seed with a seed drill. The farmer is given a specific date to sow the peas so that the peas become ready for harvest in a set order and time so that they can be harvested and frozen within 90 minutes and the factory can deal with them within this time frame

Watch ‘drilling seed ‘  in video player above playvideo

Harvesting or Vining Peas

The peas are checked each day as they approach harvest – once they are ripe they must be harvested as soon as possible, transported to the factory and frozen with 90 minutes so that they remain tender and sweet. Any delay or hold up and the peas will be left and not harvested so that every bag you buy are sweet and tender. The machines that harvest the peas cost lost of money and are very high tech. They can ‘hoover’ up the plants or pea vines without squashing or damaging the peas but at the same time pop the pods and separate the peas out from the rest of the plant or haulm. You dry squashing a pea pod to get the peas out without squashing the peas inside – bet the machine can do more than you in a day!!

Watch ‘harvesting’ in video player above. playvideo

Processing Peas

As soon as the peas are harvested the race is on to get the peas to the factory, washed, sorted frozen and bagged with 90 minutes – just watch the speed it all happens, and think about that when you next enjoy peas as one of your 5 – a – day!

Watch ‘freezing’ in video player above. playvideo


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