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Peas and harmony

Peas and harmony

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A cover crop has provided an unexpected bounty, SIMON WEBSTER reports.

I wandered down to my swale the other day to check how my young food forest was going. I’ve not given it a great deal of attention of late (well, actually, zero attention all winter), but was pleased to find it toddling along, making its way in the world without any help from me.


The fruit trees were alive and putting out some spring leaves, the pioneer trees were looking perky and ready to do some pioneering, and there was an unexpected harvest: thousands upon thousands of peas.


When I planted field peas as a winter cover crop, to keep the soil covered and add nitrogen, I didn’t consider that they would produce something edible at the end of the season. But there they are: in abundance.


I believe field peas are generally grown to be used as split peas or animal fodder. But they are perfectly edible fresh. The young ones can be eaten just like sugarsnaps, and the older ones shelled. OK, so they’re not quite as sweet as garden peas, but no one’s complaining – especially not the kids, who have been helping me pick and eat them.


When I set up the food forest I imagined wandering down there any time I fancied and being surprised by what was on offer. It seems to be doing it job already.