From the Desk of Ed Hume: Planting Garden Peas

March 1, 2010 at 10:28 AM Leave a comment

Garden peas are one of the first vegetables that gardeners plant each Spring.  It’s hard to beat their fresh crisp taste, nutritional value, and wide range of uses.  Peas can be eaten fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and they can be used with new potatoes, in soups, stir-fried, steamed, or mixed with other vegetables.  Plus, they are one of the easier vegetables to grow.  For anyone planting peas for the first time, here are a few practical pointers:

1) Prepare rich, fertile soil for garden peas.  Compost, processed manure, or well-rotted manure are excellent organic additives to incorporate with your planting soil.

2) When possible, make your rows in a north/south direction for best sun exposure and air circulation.

3) If soil is dry, soak the seeds for about one hour before sowing.

4) Dig a furrow four inches deep, covering the seeds with only one inch of soil.  Then fill-in around the seedling plants as they grow.

5) Space seeds about 1 or 2 inches apart in the row.

6) Thin the seedlings to 2 inches apart in the row.  Thinned seedlings can carefully be transplanted.

7) Pole varieties can be grown in rows 24 to 30 inches apart.  Bush varieties can be grown in rows or in 2 feet-wide beds, spacing the seeds only 2 inches apart in all directions.

8) Sow seeds at 2 to 3 week intervals until mid-Spring for continual harvest.  Sow in a cool, semi-sunny spot in mid-July for Fall harvest.

9) Seeds usually germinate in 10 to 20 days, depending upon weather.

10) Be certain to provide trellis support for climbing pea varieties as soon as seedlings are 2 to 4 inches high.  Most bush varieties will also require low 2 to 3 feet trellis support.

11) When vines begin to die back, either compost or spade them into the soil.

Here are a few of the very latest introductions and some of the home gardener’s old-time favorites:

ALASKA (Bush) – This is considered one of the earliest maturing of all garden peas.  It’s a versatile variety, one you can freeze, can, dry, or eat fresh.  It only grows 2 to 3 feet high. (56 days)

DWARF GREY SUGAR (BUSH) – A popular edible-pod snow pea with attractive purple blossoms.  Sweet slender pods are ideal for steaming, stir frying or eating fresh.  Bush size is only 30 to 48 inches.  Matures in 66 days.

GREEN ARROW (BUSH) – An old-time favorite!  9 to 11 sweet, tender peas in 4 to 4 ½ inch pods.  Excellent for shelling and eating fresh.  Grows 2 to 2 ½ feet high.  Matures in approximately 68 days.

LITTLE MARVEL (BUSH) – Over the years this has been one of the favorites.  Early producer, excellent for eating fresh, freezing, or canning.  Grows 2 to 3 feet tall.  62 days to maturity.

LINCOLN (HOMESTEADER) (BUSH) – Heat resistant, high-yielding bush pea.  A superior variety with resistance to wilt.  Large peas in pairs of slender pods with 6 to 9 peas per pod.  Vines grow 24 to 30 inches high.  Approximately 65 days to maturity.

OREGON SUGAR POD II (BUSH) – Developed by Oregon State University, this edible-pod pea is ideal for stir-fry dishes.  Snow peas are crisp, tender, and full of flavor.  Pods 4 to 4 ½ inches long.  Plants grow 24 to 30” high and are mildew-resistant.  60 days to maturity.

SUGAR LACE (BUSH) – A new sugar snap-type that is not only stringless but self-supporting.  Semi-leafless with tendrils that prevent the need for staking or trellising.  It is also enation-resistant for growth during warmer weather.  Excellent for stir-frying or use in salads.  Approximately 68days to maturity.

SUGAR SNAP (POLE) –It’s so good, it won the All-American Gold Medal award.  Superb, thick, edible pods are crisp, tender, and very sweet.  We like this one in salads.  Although this is an edible pod variety, you can also shell the peas.  Reaches maturity in 74 days.

SUGAR SPRINT (BUSH) – This one you will want to try.  It’s a stringless snap pea.  This one grows about 24 to 30 inches high and is resistant to the destructive enation virus.  Ideal for stir-frying or for use in salads.  Matures in 62 days.

SUPER SUGAR SNAP (POLE) – It’s hard to believe that there is a better variety than “Sugar Snap,” but this one is an improved selection.  It’s earlier and more disease resistant.  Pods are more numerous and more plump.  Ideal for salads, steamed, stir-fried, or eating fresh. (70 days.)

TACOMA (BUSH) – A self-supporting afila-type bush pea; this means the plants have few leaves but many tendrils that help support it by locking onto neighboring plants.  Pods are right at the top of the plant for easy harvesting.  Resistant to many pea diseases.  Peas are sweet and tender.  About 63 days to maturity.

TALL TELEPHONE/ALDERMAN (POLE) – this one has been around for a long time because it’s one of the finest pole varieties for this region.  Ideal for quick-freezing, eating fresh, or canning.  Excellent yields, good quality.  74 days to maturity.  Plant early.

What pea variety will you choose?

-Ed

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Clip of the Week: Selecting Plants From the Desk of Ed Hume: Basic Organic Gardening

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