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Peas please!


dry seeds, as “green” peas were thought to be poisonous. Today, there is no such ambiguity and with endless culti-


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vars offered by seed companies and garden stores every- where you are sure to find a variety to meet your taste. There are essentially four types of peas you can grow – snap peas, snow peas, shell peas and soup peas. Snap peas, often referred to as sugar snap peas for their


sweet taste, are eaten whole – both the pod and the peas inside. These should be picked once the peas inside are plump for optimum sweetness. Snow peas are also eaten whole, but produce thin flat


pods ideal for stir-fries, adding to salads or just eating off the vine. Be sure to pick these peas just as they begin to swell. Shell peas, perhaps the most common, produce tasty peas


inside of inedible pods. Pick them when the pods have a waxy sheen to them and are filled out. If the pod has ridges it is past its prime and the peas may begin to taste bitter. Soup peas or drying peas are harvested at the end of the


season once the pods have dried out on the vine. Growing peas


Peas are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Not only


do peas require little attention but they offer big yields while taking up minimal garden space; perfect for balco- nies and small yards. They are best planted directly in the soil in early spring, one inch deep and two inches apart. To ensure your crop has a healthy start you can add manure to the soil the fall prior to your spring planting. Peas will also benefit from a sprinkling of wood ashes in the soil just before planting. Peas are not picky plants either. While they prefer a moist


and fertile sandy loam, with lots of sun, they will grow almost anywhere except in heavy clay soils.


28 • Summer 2015


ne of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world is also one of the tastiest garden treats. It is hard to imagine that peas were originally grown for their


One thing peas should have is a trellis or other support.


This can be another benefit as you can double your pea yield by planting rows on either side of the support, and if you plant them a couple weeks apart you can enjoy a longer harvest. Regular weekly watering, and if you’re ambitious mulch


to keep their roots cool, is all they basically need. Peas usually don’t


require fertilization. As members of the


legume family they convert nitrogen from the air and store it in nodules on their roots. To allow other plants to benefit from this natural fertilizer the following year, cut plants off and allow their roots to be turned into the soil. Pests and diseases


The only disease peas tend to suffer from is powdery


mildew – white patches on the leaves and pods. The best way to avoid this is to grow resistant varieties like Thomp- son & Morgan’s pea ‘Ambassador’ among others. Pest such as aphids can be easily removed with blasts of water and you can avoid getting root rot by rotating your crops. Harvesting peas


Anyone with children in their garden know that little


fingers can become over-zealous in picking sugary sweet peas straight from the vine, occasionally ripping the plants right out of the ground. It is best to teach children, and adults, to pick peas using two hands – hold the vine while you pinch, not pull, the pods from the vine. Early varieties generally mature in 11-12 weeks while


maincrops mature at 13-15 weeks. Once peas begin to ripen harvest them daily or every second day to encourage more growth. If you want to keep your peas sweet after you pick them place them in the fridge, this will keep them crisp and stop the conversion of sugar to starch. What do you do with your pea harvest? Presuming you


actually have peas leftover from all the fresh eating you can easily freeze peas (some people parboil first), dry them out for soups or for seeds next year. i


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