Thursday, April 05, 2012

Advice on Peas? Pretty Please?

Got a note from Dave, the pea lover, wondering what's a good variety to plant and is there such a thing as a safe planting date in the mountains?

First, the easy question. There is no safe planting date up here in the mountains. However! My neighbors have learned that the last hard freeze of the winter ALWAYS happens the week AFTER I plant MY veggie garden. So, if you wait until I screw up you should be in pretty good shape.

If you're more of a leader than a follower, here are a couple of options:

1) Sow by seed quick-growing peas that mature in 65-80 days.
2) Or, start them indoors. I plant mine in 16 oz plastic drinking cups so they develop long, strong roots. They grow on the deck for the month of May (so I can haul them indoors on an exceptionally cold night.) I plant them in the soil around June 15th.
* This is sadly abnormal in comparison to lower elevation veggie gardeners but mountain growing seasons are on a different timetable. We get started later but we can usually harvest later, too.

There are tons of pea varieties - English peas, snap peas, snow peas (edible pods) and, the most misunderstood of all, the Black Eyed Peas. These are considered beans if you live in the north, or a highly entertaining band if you're younger than me.

Kelvedon Wonder ~ one of my favorites. It's a fast growing, tasty variety that shrugs off pea wilt and other disasters. Matures in 65 days.

Sugar Ann and Sugar Mel ~ (Don't they sound like the cutest couple?) Quick, crisp and delicious. Ready for picking in about 60 days.

Alderman (aka Tall Telephone) ~ the yummiest pea you've ever gobbled. They say this big guy requires 75 days - but it's closer to 100. Start him indoors and gift him with a tall fence. He'll climb 8 feet if you let him.

Sun-kissed, vine-ripened, fresh-picked, barely fertilized:
  • Peas produce their own nitrogen but they'll love you forever if you give them an extra shot of phosphorus.
  • Peas are a cool season veggie. Cool, not cold. Dave's overly-anxious neighbor pushes aside the snow to plant seeds directly into the ground very early. But, here's the deal. Peas need warmth to sprout so... sure! You can plant them super early but it won't make a bit of difference. They'll wait for warmer soil temps to germinate.

Give Peas a Second Chance!
Saving pea seed is simple. Allow the pods to dry until brown on the vines. Hand shell them and plant the following spring.


ProfessorRoush said...

Nice "Peas" sign! Here in the lowlands, I'm partial to "Mr. Big", a variety that gives up a little taste to some, but makes up for it by easing the shelling work.

Anonymous said...

I just have to second: NO SAFE PLANTING DATE! That's a lesson that seems to come home to me year after year. Is sort of like having a casino in the backyard. You pays your money and you takes your chances...

Melospiza said...

I am still waiting in irritation for my peas, planted responsibly (heh) on March 17 as tradition dictates, to emerge from the ground. I have taken to going out to the garden and glaring sternly at the cold, bare ground every evening. I may have to escalate to a firm talking-to, and don't laugh, because that worked this year to get my plum to flower.

Cynthia said...

My peas went in down here in the valley in mid-March. I haven't checked to see if they are up yet!

However, I AM down in the valley and I have raised beds so my soil warms faster. We have a bigger issue with peas planted too late and thus it gets too hot and they don't do as well there at the end. This year looks to be like that. Still, with a high of 45 tomorrow then into the high 70s tomorrow, anything goes!

Utah Garden Blogs

Rose said...

I like to till up my vegetable garden before planting, and I'm still waiting for Husband to get around to that. This year, I've vowed to plant my snow peas early--last year I didn't get them planted till May and only had a few measly pods to eat. As warm a spring as we have had, I could have planted some in February and be harvesting them right now!

Just noticed your sidebar post about 'Prairie Sun' rudbeckia, which apparently I missed last January. I bought one of these last fall, and I loved it! I've got seeds germinating in the basement right now and crossing my fingers I'll have a bunch of these to plant this year.

Hope you have a Happy Easter, Kate!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Thx, Prof;
A wise choice, indeed, the shelling can be a real pain...

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Isn't that the truth, Patricia...

It snowed on June 17th last year. Was toasty warm in December with no snow on the ground and a few flowers blooming. Strange days..

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Soul sistahs, Melospiza;

I give my plants a stern talking to whenever they're slacking off! I guess - because you're in Denver - I thought of you as in the mountains but now it hits me that you're in much lower elevation. It's snowing sideways this morning, as I type this. :(

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Ah, Cynthia..

You lucky gardener. I really should partner up with a valley homeowner who has gardening space to share (that program through Wasatch Gardens) It would be nice to play in the mud earlier in the season.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Cheers to you, Rose;
I'm a fellow tiller, as well. I know there are lots of folks against tilling but it makes a world of difference for my soils. Please send your hubs my way, as soon as he's done tilling yours. :)

RURAL said...

Ah frost dates, never used to have worry about my gardening life will be ruled by them.

I am going to have to figure out what they are up here.

Thanks for the Pea advice.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Estelle Page said...

Well I don't live in the mountains, but I am intrigued by all these varieties of peas... wonder if I can find them in my local supermarket!