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Pre-sprouting is useful for ensuring all seeds are viable.

Pre-sprouting peas

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Pea plants don’t like being transplanted, so it’s best to sow seeds directly. However, you can use biodegradable pots or pre-sprout seed, as Karen Sutherland explains here.

I like to pre-sprout my peas before planting and they don’t seem to mind being transplanted when grown this way. It’s useful if you’re running late with your planting and also allows you to see the seeds germinate, so you know they are viable before planting. It’s also a fun thing to do with younger or beginner gardeners, although I have to say I never tire of seeing those little seedlings develop, like surprise packages being opened by nature. Here’s the process:

1. Using a clear, clean container (recycled plastic takeaway containers work well), lay a couple of sheets of damp paper towel in the bottom, place your seeds on top of this and cover with another couple of sheets of damp paper towel. 

2. Seal with the lid and label the container with the date and variety, especially useful if you are pre-sprouting several types at once. A sunny kitchen windowsill is ideal for stacking these containers.

3. Check daily to make sure the paper remains damp and for any sign of mould. If mould occurs, wash the seeds and container, change the paper and continue sprouting. 

4. Seedlings are usually ready to go into the ground in a week or so, once the root shoot has sprouted, and not too long after the green leaf shoot has started.

Karen has written all about peas in the Winter 2021 issue — get a copy delivered to your door and find a pea to suit your garden, and your taste.