Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now is the time to plant peas!

Note: This post was originally published last year, but it bears repeating!
When it comes to fresh-from-the-garden vegetables that cause you swear off grocery store knock-offs, peas are at the top of the list. Fresh from the pod, peas are exquisite! They are easy to grow, easy to pick and if you have never eaten a fresh pea still in the pod, you are in for a great treat. Now is the time to plant peas.

Peas don't require much in the way of fussiness. Good, well drained soil and a good sturdy trellis or fence to climb on are the components of good pea-keeping. Well rotted compost will ensure loads of thick pods but don't fertilize much more than that or you will get more vines and less pods.
Here is a bed that begged to be a pea bed; long, straight and thin. I opened up the soil with a U-bar so no tilling was necessary and set a good straight trench in the middle of the bed. I plant my peas in single rows on each side of the proposed space for the fence. I have tried the double rows in the past with less than desirable results each time so I stick with the tried and true single row.

I filled the trench with compost and planted the peas 4" apart with my two rows a mere 8 inches apart. Once the peas were spaced in the row I covered with the loosened dirt and began the work of putting up the trellis.

Peas can and will climb so be sure to set up a fence or trellis. In the past I have tried fence posts with string - don't try it - it doesn't work. I have tried utilizing coral panels from the co-op and they were great for shorter beds. They come in 16 foot lengths and they are inexpensive and last forever. For a longer bed though I felt that I had to use actual fencing. We strung it tight with two t-posts which is very important for picking time. You don't want the weight of the peas to pull the trellis over.

Once that hard work was over we transplanted spinach on one side and planted lettuce seeds on the other. As long as you keep the peas twining up the trellis you can keep weeds out of the bed by planting another crop on each side. Remember that mother nature will try to cover the soil if you don't. Also the lettuce and spinach will shade the soil and I will need much less water to maintain the growth of peas. As we get closer to picking I will post several recipes for fresh peas!

For your own garden we still have few different varieties of pea seeds for sale in the store. You will even find some varieties that thrive in pots for those who want the delicious taste of fresh peas but lack the space. So, there's a pea for everyone.

Have Fun!

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