See Growing, Planting and Collecting for other seeds.
Legumes include peas, beans and also peanuts as most common to small gardens; however it also includes pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and sweet lupin and forage such as clover and alfalfa. (I have tried peanuts Experiments in Peanut)
Legumes are known as nitrogen fixers as they take the nitrogen out of the air and store it in their roots (nodules) with the aid of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. When the plant died, the roots decay in the soil improving the nutrient levels for surrounding plants. (Nitrogen can also be fixed in the soil with lightning but it is harder to get that to strike your garden beds, planting peas seems a little more straight forward)
This year I am planting two kinds of peas (and perhaps sweet lupin and peanuts if I can find the room -I’ll update then) ‘Douce Provence’ and ‘Carruthers purple podded’ The first is dwarf bush type (2′) and the second is a tall (6′) vine type so will need support.
There are two kinds of peas, wrinkled and smooth, there is no difference in the growing of them but the taste may be different as wrinkled peas when eaten fresh are sweeter tasting due to less sugar being converted to starches. Interesting trait discovered by Mendel and then 150 years later why it happened. (read here). The ‘Douce Provence’ is a smooth kind and the purple podded is a wrinkled kind so I will be able to taste test the two soon hopefully.
Peas are quite easy to germinate as they don’t need much heat to grow, plant at the depth of the seed and don’t over water as they can go mouldy before germination if the soil is too wet and warm.
Most legumes hate having their roots disturbed when planting out so a solution is to plant them in root trainers – an opening book kind of pot so they don’t have to be ‘knocked’ out of the pot. A cost free solution is to plant them into toilet or paper towel rolls.
Seeds can be germinated in a chosen method (soil, wet paper etc) and then when the seedling is quite small and only has a couple of roots transfer to a tube. Place a piece of paper secured with a rubber-band on the other end of the tube, if you want to move them or else the soil will fall out.
When it comes time to plant in the garden just remove the rubber band and the roots can grow out of the bottom of the tube if they haven’t done already.
You can also plant directly outside however, rodents and some birds love the seeds so you may have to cover with netting until the seedlings have grown a little.
Peas are self pollinating (are often pollinated before even opening) so you can collect the pea seeds that will be true to the parent. There is a very small chance that they could be cross pollinated so just don’t plant two pea types right next to each other.
To collect pea seeds, you must resist the urge to eat them, leave them on the vine to dry until brown and crunchy if there is expected frost then hang whole plant up until fully dry. Shell the pea and keep in a dry cool place.
Have you ever grown something out of the ordinary? Perhaps lentils or chickpeas? I am always interested in new ways of doing things and getting new plants from unlikely/uncommon sources, even if it means trying something and not knowing if it will grow – sometimes we are pleasantly surprised.