Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The ABC's of Peas Please

Good morning to YOU!

My first taste of peas came from a can. My mother loved to serve the pale green mushy things cold with a little Miracle Whip. It’s little wonder I never developed a taste for peas. That is, until I picked one fresh off the vine. Then there was no turning back. 

Thank goodness for Thor the Norse God of thunder who apparently shot peas down from the heavens to plug human wells. Was this an act of vengeance or a gift? Either way it seems a few missed their mark and ended up in the soil where we can lustily feast on them today.

Peas are great to grow in your own home garden not only because they are delicious but they are also one of the first things you can plant in the season. Like, now.

Unlike tender plants such as tomatoes or peppers, peas are cold weather hardy and can be directly sown in the ground up to 4 weeks before last frost. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten them in early - peas can still be planted until early summer before things get too hot.

There are basically two kinds of peas: Shelling and Snap. Snap peas can be eaten shell and all while shelling peas can not. Both are available as bush type plants or vines. What you choose to plant will depend on your space. Both grow with little tendrils coming off the stems that will cling and climb up a trellis or netting. Lucky for you, we sell that.

Find a nice sunny spot to plant your peas and make sure the soil is nice and fluffy. If it isn’t, mix in a healthy portion of a good, well rotted, organic compost. I like using vermicompost (worm castings) - something you can find at our store. Mushroom compost is good too.

Another great thing about peas is that they, like beans, are “nitrogen fixers”. What that basically means is that their roots, stems and leaves add nitrogen to the soil, a very important ingredient needed to grow healthy plants. That’s why it’s a good idea to plant them next to nitrogen suckers like corn.

In fact, most herbs and vegetables are great companions for peas except for onions, garlic and potatoes, so find another spot for those.

The practice of “companion planting” is an old idea that is used for a number of good reasons. Plants can help each other improve flavour, repel bad bugs and attract good ones. Planting different plants together creates a natural and integrated pest management system for your garden so you won’t need to use those nasty chemicals.

Your peas will be ready to harvest after about 70 days. Make sure to save your seeds for next year by letting a few pods dry on the vine. Owning seeds is owning life - Monsanto doesn't get to be the only ones invited to that party. Power to the people and their right to seed! Am I right?

When all the peas are harvested you can leave the roots in ground for more nitrogen fixing and composition. 

...And don’t worry if you find a few single-podded peas. They’re said to bring good luck! Kind of like you!

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