Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pea Growing Notes

Growing peas can be done year around on my homestead, but they don't do as well during the summer months. More disease problems from June to October. 

Germination
I don't have any problems getting peas to germinate. 

Bush vs Pole
I tend to grow the short vines varieties only because I don't have enough trellis space available yet. The longer vines, when grown up a trellis, I find are easier to care for and pick. Even getting the shorter vines up on a pea fence will make picking easier. As I age, those long vines running up trellises are looking more and more appealing. 

Pea Type
I grow shell, snow, snap and dry peas. I love them all. Surprise, even hubby likes them. Finally a veggie that I can grow that hubby likes to eat! 

Harvesting
   When to harvest depends upon the type of pea. Shell peas are best when the peas are developing but not too big. The bigger they get, the less sweet they are. It takes a little experience to get it right. 
   Snow peas get picked when the pods are getting to a decent size but before the peas themselves start barely to plump up. If they get too developed, I find that their flavor isn't as good, sometimes they get bitter, and they surely get more fibrous. 
   Snap peas are sweetest when the pods are plumping out. They'll edible before that but not sweet. 
   Dry peas get harvested here just as the pods are mature and filled out. I can't wait for them to dry in the vine because it's too moist on the homestead. The peas will simply germinate right in the pods. So I pick them when they are mature and just starting to dry. I then shell them and allow the peas to complete drying on trays in the house. Or if it is breezy, I will pull the vines and hang them from the rafters of the lanai so they can dry. Down on my seed farm I can allow the peas to naturally dry in the vine. 

Growing Tips 
My pea plants grow best when I till the top 3-6 inches of soil prior to seeding. I normally till in some compost, the old mulch, and a light sprinkling of coral sand, wood ash, bone dust, and lava sand. For varieties that I'm not trellising or growing on a pea fence, I will plant the seed in a 2 inch grid to fill the bed. Under a trellis or pea fence I will sow three rows about two inches apart, with the in-row spacing being two inches. I poke the seeds down about an inch and cover them with soil. Then I water the bed. 

Problems 
I don't see problems with every pea crop, but problems are common enough here. Summertime sees more disease problems. I find that I get one or two good pickings before things go badly, so I plan on getting that early harvest then removing the vines. Trying to capture every last pea isn't worth it to me. I'd rather get another crop going. 
...slugs will eat the pods.
...turkeys will pluck the peas right out of the pods. 
...cutworms will shear off emerging seedlings.
...turkeys will eat emerging seedlings. 
...leaf miners tunnel in the leaves. 
...stink bugs damage the pods.
...Ascochyta blight ruins the crop. 
...mildew damages the plants. 
...and some sort of disease that misshapens the pods. The early pods are fine, but later pods are warped. 

Varieties I Grow
Regularly I grow Green Arrow, Alaska, Cascadia, Oregon Giant, Sugar Sprint, Super Snappy, Sugar Lace. But I also like to grow others off and in, such as Sugar Ann, Mammoth Melting, Yellow Snow Pea. This year I'm going to try a new one, Royal Snow. And of course there will be others here and there in the gardens, because as hubby says, my ears perk up when I see peas on a seed rack. I just gotta try a new variety. 

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