Seed Sense #4

originally published April 3

Week 9 BLD ( before last frost date )

Time to plant peas, indoors or out, Spinach outside, Kale and Kohlrabi, Chard indoors!
I started an English shelling pea, Green Arrow, on March 1 in used Keurig pods for giving away during my seed starting talk at the grand re-opening of the Sturgeon Bay Seed Library. Unfortunately we had to cancel it. Now I have lots of plants.
Too soon for my garden so I have been pinching them off to keep them stronger and in control and nurturing them until they can be transplanted outside. Now I need to start hardening them off preparing them for outside weather. I am approaching this in 1 hour increments and going to slowly add time to being outside untill I can plant this weekend. More later.
Let’s talk peas!

Peas are more then a delicious nutritious vegetable they are also a a good source of nitrogen for your soil. Nitrogen is what enables your plants to bring up nutrients through their roots. Both Peas and Beans are soil fixers and if you’ve started to rotate crops in your gardens, using peas and beans as the alternate crop is a wise choice. Especially with tomatoes and squash, both of which hungrily eat up as much of the soil’s nutrients they can to produce their bounty.
Before planting either of the legumes, sprinkle your planting row with a garden soil inoculant. It contains millions of live bacteria that are essential in the nitrogen fixation process of garden legume plants. It is also a yield booster, I’ve seen the amazing difference is makes when visiting a CSA farm during a Master Gardener conference. (The farmer planted 1 row with an inoculant and 1 without for demonstration.)
More importantly, it creates these little nodules on the roots of the plant that are responsible for the natural formed nitrogen fixing of the soil. ( Only works if you leave the roots of the plants in the soil after harvest and cutting down the plant).

There are essentially 3 different types of Peas. English or shelling Peas,(inedible pods), Snow peas, ( flat pods ), Sweet peas ( fat pods ). Some are bushy growing 20 – 28″ and others are vines that can reach 6ft. All the peas like to attach themselves to something and prefer support. The whole plant is edible including the flowers. Do not mistake this with the ornamental Sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus.

Germination times for peas is about 6 – 7 days. Their maturity time ranges from 50days to 72 days. Pre-soaking the peas will soften the hard shell and aide in germination. All seeds should be planted about an inch and a half in the ground and 2- 3″ apart. If starting inside, plant 1/2″ deep. Peas, like beans prefer to be direct sown outside but starting inside is possible especially when Spring temperatures are not cooperating and you are planting a variety that has a long maturity time.

I am planting 7 different types of Peas this year! Why? Because I can! Previous years have consumed by time with planning and growing for the Door County Master Gardeners plant sale and by the time I had time for my garden, pea planting season was done until fall.

I am currently soaking 6 varieties preparing to plant tomorrow. I have 7 peas in each dish. I only want 5 plants each but there was not a germination percentage on any of the packages so I’m going to plant 2 extra to account for any lack of viability.

Oh and remember my saying I was gradually hardening off the English peas? Well, I got impatient. They went in the ground with the inoculant yesterday. I’ll let you know how they do. Sigh.