Growing Garden Peas Successfully Is All About The Timing
Peas are the earliest vegetable in my garden.
It is a delightful vegetable to plant because just when you think
winter is never going to be over, the snow melts and you can
immediately plant. The plant, with its small white or purple flowers,
wonderfully strong tendrils for climbing, and bountiful harvest is one
of the wonders of the early garden. The nice thing about this vegetable
is that they are almost a plant-and-forget-them type of crop. The only
real work is ensuring the weeds are kept at bay and harvesting those
long tender pods.
I'm sure if you remember your high school biology- and who would want
to forget those high school lessons- you'll remember Gregor Mendel and
In fact, Pere Mendel was a newcomer to this vegetable.
Archeologists have discovered peas in tombs from as far back as 1450 BC
in Troy but nobody really knows when people started to grow them.
According to Chinese legend, the Emperor Shen Nung discovered the
vegetable nearly 5000 years ago.
In the European Middle Ages, they were stored, dried and used as a
hedge against food storages and famines. Because the seed will store
indefinitely, it was a staple food for colonists in North America.
The pea as we know it was developed in England and with the structure
and location of modern varity flowers, the plant is self-pollinating
while still in bud. Modern breeders have developed plants with improved
vigor, disease resistance, flavour and keeping qualities, not to
mention increasing yields by impressive amounts.
The biggest improvement
came when Calvin Lamborn, a plant
scientist discovered an unusual form in his trial beds that came to be
known as "snap" peas. After rigorous testing and further development,
‘Sugar Snap' won the 1979 All America Awards.
Snap pea is the working
name for our edible-podded sugar peas. These are wonderful pods for
fresh eating (as some of my kids discovered and used to wander about
the farm with pockets and hats stuffed with freshly raided pods for
You can also cook them in stir-fries or shell and cook them as
Your preferred garden site for growing great plants is one in full
or at the very least, a full six hours of hot sun. This
plant grows well in almost every kind of soil
prefer a sandier soil with good drainage. Improving the soil will
increase the yield and the easiest way to do this is to add organic
Add as much as you can afford and dig or turn this into the
soil to a depth of six inches. Like most vegetables, stay away from
fresh manure if you have access to it. Use the composted manures
Peas, like the bean, are legumes. This means they have the
ability to "fix" or create nitrogen in the soil and leave it richer
than before they were planted. Nodules on the roots store any
excess nitrogen produced by the plant and as the roots decompose, the
nitrogen is released to the soil.
At the end of the growing season,
the vines can be simply dug into the soil; there is little reason to
The easiest way
to grow them is to sow the seed directly into
well-dug and prepared garden soil. Peas are quite frost tolerant and
germinate well in cold soil.
The easiest way to calculate your date
is to count back four to six weeks from your last
expected frost date (we normally figure May 17) so planting on St.
Patrick's Day makes some sense (always assuming the and having a saint's help can't hurt in
our gardening ventures.
Sow seeds of dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties one
. Plant two rows a few inches apart and then leave
twenty-four inches between these double rows.
Seeds should be
planted three to four inches apart in the row.
Sow seeds of taller
one inch deep in single rows with each seed two inches
apart in the rows that are twenty-four inches apart. You can let them
grow without support but you'll find the pods are easier to find and
harvest if they are grown up a fence.
The easiest thing to do is use
some old fencing or piles of brush to support the vines. The seeds will
if you water them right after you sow them. Seeds
germinate in seven to ten days and you do not need to thin seedlings,
just let them grow.
Some people start their seeds indoors but this is a whole bunch of
work that usually doesn't pay off.
Don't bother buying them in garden centres either, a pack of seeds is
cheaper and more effective.
To get more peas
, plant a
succession of sowings every two weeks until the middle of May. Or, you
can obtain early and late harvesting varieties and sow them all
together. To increase the harvest, consider mulching the plants. This
will keep the soil cool and moist. Fertilize with compost. Water
if the soil is dry, remember that peas are mostly water and your
harvest will be much higher if the peas are not water-starved.
Other than that dad-watted-wabbit, there are remarkably few pests
Aphids might be a problem but a sharp spray of water will knock them
off. And harvesting them is done by judging colour and touch- the
plump pods are best judged by touch. And the best thing to do is
harvest them right before you want to use them to maximize the
sweetness and tenderness
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