Peas - Easy and Delicious
The Tall and Short of It
Peas porridge hot. Peas porridge cold. Peas porridge in the pot nine days old.
An old nursery rhyme that does horrible things to a wonderful vegetable.
How Much Space Do I Need? If Asparagus is the first taste of spring, then Peas really are the first taste of summer. Sweet and succulent they are a challenge. Try getting any into the kitchen to cook up for the family. It is so easy just to stand in the garden and shuck and eat them
and the dropped pods are a great soil additive. They are also high on my list because they so easily become one of our vertical vegetables. Lots of peas; very little space required. Mine climb up a couple of different structures. The early dwarf ones, just use a free standing circle of hardware cloth about 45 cm (18 in) in diameter.(pictured right) The later taller types grow up an old piece of chain link fence hanging from one of my famous structures. The picture can show you much quicker than I can write it out. Metal holder driven half way into the ground with about 180 cm, (6 ft) of 4x4 standing in it. Two 240 cm (8 ft) 2x2 on the top at right angles each having several cup hooks to hold the fencing up. That’s it. Not overly pretty but very effective.
When And How Do I Plant Them? Peas should be the among the earliest seeds into the soil. They are one of the few things that will actually germinate at quite cool temperatures. The seed is often treated with a fungicide to prevent rot from starting if the soil is too cool and damp. If you want to be truly organic then look in the catalogues for untreated seed. I actually follow the directions and soak my seeds for several hours before I plant them. The problem with this technique is being able to guarantee your time and the weather for planting when the seeds are swollen up and ready to go. The early dwarfs are planted in a trench about 3 cm wide that follows the contour of the hardware cloth circle. They can then grow up both the inside and the outside of the cloth and increase the yield. They should be about 2 - 3 cm deep in the soil and soak the soil after sowing because the seeds are already on the road to germination and drying out at that point is deadly. The tall ones are similarly planted so that they can grow up both sides of the hanging chain link.
Anything Else? No! They are legumes and can therefore fix Nitrogen from the air and your compost rich soil should provide everything they need. They will find the supports by themselves and you only have to come back in late June and pick them. I usually get two pickings from the dwarfs and in a cool year may get three from the taller types. You will do a lot of picking and shucking to get a bowl of peas but just barely boiled with a drizzle of butter they are more then worth the time and the tiny bit of garden space they take up. When they are finished rip them out and use those circles where the dwarfs were to plant a late summer crop of Zucchini or Broccoli.
Peas! Great taste, very little space and that space can be used again that same season.
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