Pea shoots make a very nutritious addition to salads and home cooked meals, but they can be expensive to buy. You can save money by growing them yourself at home. There are a few things you need to know to get the best yield from your dried peas. Follow these steps to become a pea shoots master!
Which variety should I use?
You can use any variety. Some will be sweeter, some will be faster growing, some will have bigger leaves and tendrils. For the cheapest option, I recommend you use dried marrowfat peas. They’re incredibly cheap and most supermarkets will sell them. As you can see below, they make great pea shoots!
What equipment do I need?
Growing pea shoots is really simple. All you need is some dried peas, a plastic container with no holes, and some all purpose compost—that’s it!
How to grow pea shoots at home
Step 1 – Soak your peas
To make sure your peas germinate together, and to get a good germination rate, soak your dried peas for 24 hours before laying them on your compost. If you’re using marrowfat peas, you’ll need around 1.7grams of dried peas per square inch. Measure the width and length of your container in inches, multiply them together, then multiply the result by 1.7 to get your dried weight in grams per square inch. When you soak the peas, they will roughly double in size, so make sure there’s space in the container!
Step 2 – Plant your peas
Lay around an inch of fine compost in your container. Try to keep the surface smooth to ensure even contact with the compost and encourage even germination. Water the compost so it’s moist throughout, but not waterlogged. The compost should feel moist to the touch, but there shouldn’t be water remaining on the surface. Allow the water to soak in thoroughly, then lay your peas out on the surface so they’re evenly spaced. Place the container on a well lit windowsill and wait for germination. It will take a little over a week for the peas to grow into full shoots.
Step 3 – Apply weight
This step is optional, but will give you the best rate of germination. Cut a piece of thick card to fit the size of your container, and lay it on top of the peas. Place a weight on top of the card. If the card is thick enough, the weight will distribute evenly, forcing the peas into contact with the compost. after a few days, the peas will start to lift the card and the weight—at this stage, remove the card and let the peas do what they do best—grow into tasty pea shoots! As you can see below, this method is very effective—you’re unlikely to achieve this type of even growth without weight.
Step 4 – Chow down!
When the leaves are big enough to your liking, cut your pea shoots, rinse them in cold water, and store them in the fridge. You can leave them to keep growing, but like my grandmother, they’ll get a little bitter with age. Add your pea shoots to salads for freshness and crunch, include them in a stir fry, or get fancy and use them to garnish a steak or roast. Pea shoots are packed full of vitamins and flavour, and they don’t have to be expensive!
How often do I need to water my pea shoots?
Water your pea shoots whenever the soil starts to dry out. Try to keep the soil moist to the touch, but not waterlogged. This will give the best results and help to avoid mould
I can see white mould on my peas—what should I do?
Don’t panic! It’s easy to deal with a little mould. To avoid mould growth all together, make sure your pea tray has adequate air circulation. If you’re growing a densely packed tray, there’s less space for the air to move around between the shoots, so you’ll need to increase air flow. You can do this by pointing a fan at them to blow air through the shoots, or place them beside a slightly open window.
To get rid of pesky mould, make a solution of 50% water / 50% vinegar in a spray bottle. Try to spray so that the vinegar touches the mould. It will kill it and cause it to dry out. After an hour, empty your spray bottle and clean it, then spray the shoots again with clean water to wash off the vinegar solution.