Sunday, February 19, 2012

Give Peas a Chance

OK, sorry about the bad joke in the title....I saw it on a t-shirt once.  It is FINALLY time to think about planting peas!  Ohio's winter this year has been very mild....had I been prepared for this I could have had peas, spinach and lettuce growing all season!  Peas can be planted in both containers and directly in the ground.

First let's talk about varieties.  There are sugar snap peas, snow peas, and peas that must be shelled.  You can also find "stringless" varieties...which just means that you do not have to remove the strings before cooking.  There are types that need to be trellised and bush types for containers.  You can even plant them if you have no ground space!  Sugar Snap Peas are eaten when the peas have formed in the pods, Snow Peas are usually eaten when the peas are just forming in the pods and they appear more flat.  I prefer the Snap Peas and the Snow Peas over the shelled peas.  They can be eaten raw, in salads, steamed or stir fried.  I also freeze peas for eating during the winter.

The process of planting them is very simple.  Peas like cool weather and can be planted as soon as the ground is workable.  Once the weather gets too warm they'll stop producing.  I plan to start planting mine around March 1st!  Seeds are planted 1/2-1 inch deep in the soil and covered with about a 1/2 inch of ground.  Plant the seeds about 2 inches apart to allow for plenty of growing space.  A slow release nitrogen fertilizer can be applied at the time of planting, as peas like nitrogen but do not require much.  You only need to apply the fertilizer once.  Each variety will have detailed directions on the packet.  These are general instructions.  Once the seeds sprout you'll need to protect the sprouts against rabbits and deer.  The easiest way to do this is to fence them in with chicken wire fencing.  Good luck to you!  Also begin thinking about other vegetable seeds you'd like to plant!  We're getting closer to garden season everyday!

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