Growing Peas. Eating Peas.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This year I'm trying to get smarter about my vegetable garden and have made some cuts to things that just weren't working out for me.

I've given up:

  • Growing a gazillion heads of lettuce. I'm trying to limit myself to just 6 plants at a time and to plant more frequently.
  • Growing everything from seed. I suck. I water too much and then too little. I leave tender little plants outside when it's cold. And for those troopers that do manage to survive, I can't resist planting them ALL, no matter the number, after I've nursed them to seedlinghood, which makes things crowded and leads to waste. It just seems more economical for me to buy starts for most things at this point. I will still do lettuce, cukes, squash, beans, and peas from seed. Sometimes. 
  • Cruciferous veggies. Except kale. I still love you kale. I've had trouble with everything else. Aphid trouble. Timing trouble. Eating trouble. 
  • Trying to grow beets from starts. If you're just growing them for the greens, a perfectly worthy pursuit, it's fine, but if you want roots to form, fuggedabout it. You need seeds. I tried growing beets from starts for 4 years in a row before learning this.
  • Growing things nobody here really likes to eat. Duh.
  • Growing too many of  the things we do eat. Tomatoes and squash and cucumbers I'm looking at you. Edit, edit, edit.
One veg that easily made the cut are peas. They are just so easy and rewarding. They go in early and make the place look full of promise, like things are really happening. And they are delicious straight off the plant, in salads, is cooking. Plus, the party is over pretty early on so you can move on to something else. Until late Summer, when you can start a Fall crop all over again. I've never tried this before but it's a cool season plant and I hear it can be done. Stay tuned...

Here's my method for growing peas. I'm no expert but this has worked well for me.

Peas will need some sort of support (or maybe not--read on). You can use string and stakes to make your own trellis. I used this wire structure. I presoaked my seeds overnight in an inoculant such as Fix -N- Grow Granular Legume Inoculant.

After my seeds had soaked overnight I dug a single trough for all of them and then planted them all together. I had three different varieties all mixed together. Planting peas this way allows them to grow up and through each other--they create their own support that way and I've heard of people relying on that alone and forgoing any additional support.

You can see they are pretty crowded together and I usually have even more in my trough. Once the seeds were planted I even added some starts.

Finally, I covered with soil and gave everything a good water. In Portland this first watering is enough until the pods have formed at which point I keep on eye on things and water if we have any dry spells or if the soil starts to look dry.

In no time at all, I had this...

It doesn't take long for the pea plants to begin to flower and set pods. The pods always creep up on me--one day I don't see any and the next day I see a ton. It seems like the time between flower and pod on this plant happens in a flash.

Here's what I like to make with the tender pea shoots while I'm waiting for the harvest of peas (the recipe calls for watercress which would be nice too, but I love using pea shoots). I won't lie to you, it takes eons, but it's a knockout. AND you get to use your radishes if you're growing those too, so you really get to feeling like a kitchen garden rock star.

 Photo via the dreamy food blog, Le Tartine Gourmande



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