BONNIE'S GARDEN--Lucky Peas?
There is a gardening tradition that says planting peas on St. Patrick’s Day is lucky. Whether or not it’s really luck or just that the soil around St. Patrick’s Day is usually just the right temperature to grow peas, mid-March is the perfect time to plant them. As long as the soil temperatures are around 50 degrees or so, peas will sprout--and our soil temperature is perfect right now. And when you pick those first peas out of the garden, you’ll know what luck really is—fresh-picked garden peas are delicious!
Peas are one of those vegetables whose carbohydrates begin converting to starch as soon as they’re picked. This means that the week-old peas you buy at the grocery store are not nearly as sweet as those that you just picked from your own backyard.
Peas grow on vines that can vary in height from two feet to around six or seven feet so be sure to read the back of the seed packet to find out how tall your trellis needs to be. Pea plants climb with tendrils—meaning they need something to grab. My grandfather used to selectively cut small branches to place next to the pea plants. I do it the easy way—I put posts at both ends of the row and run about three rows of twine between them. Garden netting would also work.
To plant peas, soak them for 12 to 24 hours to speed germination, then plant one inch deep, two inches apart. Sow them directly in the garden—beans and peas do NOT transplant well. A bean inoculant is beneficial.
Inoculant is similar to the probiotics we take for digestive health. It is a beneficial bacteria, Rhizobium leguminosera, that bonds with the roots, enabling the plants to absorb nitrogen from the air. This gives you stronger, more vigorous plants. The plants will store excess nitrogen in little nodules on the roots—this is what makes legumes, like peas and beans, good at enriching the soil overall.
Whether you choose to plant those delectable shelling peas or the crispy sweet “snap” peas, growing your own is easy—and tasty!
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