Sunday, April 25, 2010

It’s Pea-Plantin’ Time in the Mountains

…or not. It seems awfully early to me, with a week still left to the month, but “they” say you can/should plant your peas “as soon as the ground is workable.” This year that would’ve been almost in March! Why, I don’t usually get the garden going until mid-May at earliest, and more often than not not until after Memorial Day. But, this year it has been warm early, and with employment up in the air (had a job interview this week in Maryland, but there are 29 other candidates for that job), I figure it’s best to plant, just in case. I’m kinda hoping that by planting the garden the Fates will think they’ve worked against me by giving me a job and making me move. We’ll see.

So, tonight when I got home from work, the air was mild, the sun was shining – perfect planting weather, thought I. The black flies are not biting yet, although once the sun was well and goodly set, the mosquitoes came out and did their best to drive me back inside. I wasn’t having any part of it, though – I stayed out planting until I couldn’t see the seeds anymore. Got eight double-rows planted – eight varieties. I know you are dying to know what kinds, so here’s the list and some descriptions.

Golden Sweet – edible pods – “Originally collected at a market in India. Tall 6’ plants, beautiful two-toned purple flowers and bright lemon-yellow pods. Best eaten small, excellent for stir-fry. The only yellow-colored edible podded pea in Seed Saver’s Exchange’s collection of over 1,000 varieties.” Sounds intriguing, eh? I have seeds from SSE and from Baker Creek for this variety – we’ll see if they do equally well.

Schweizer Riesen (Swiss Giant) Snow Peas - a rare pea that I got from Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seeds. The catalogue describes it as “an old Swiss heirloom. Tall, vigorous plants with attractive purple-flower[s] bear large, tender, tasty snow peas. People sometimes mistake the showy flowers for sweet peas.”

Mayfair – a shell pea I got two or three years ago and haven’t had since due to seed crop failures. I was glad to get it again this year – it’s a very good sweet pea. Unfortunately, the description for these was on the back of the order form, which was mailed, so I can’t tell you what the catalogue said about them! They produce late in the season - a good choice to extend your pea-growing pleasure.

Green Arrow – another standard in my garden. It’s also the pea with a large following among commercial growers. Still, it is yummy.

Blue Podded Shelling Peas – I grew these for the first time last year. They are so beautiful, from their lovely blue flowers to their stunning purple (not blue) pods. Even the peas inside the pods are purple, but when cooked, they do turn green, just like purple beans do. Let’s see, the package (from SSE) says “AKA Blauwschokkers. Soup peas have been enjoyed as a winter staple in Europe for centuries. Spectacular plants are beautiful enough to grow as an ornamental. Productive Dutch strain.” Oops – I see it also says to soak the peas overnight before planting. Well, too late now! Last year I treated all my peas to innoculant mixed with water, and they did just fine with only a few minutes in the liquid. Maybe we’ll get rain the next couple days (the forecast calls for rain all week, actually) and that will do instead. I guess we’ll see!

British Wonder – I planted these for the first time last year. I remember being impressed with them, but I can’t remember why. Hm. The SSE packaging says “Introduced in England by Taber and Cullen in 1890. Sent to the USDA for trial in1903 and introduced by W. Atlee Burpee in 1904. Excellent yields of sweet green peas.”

Laxton’s Progress #9 – an interesting name, don’t you think? I think that’s why I purchased them originally, but they have since become another pea staple for me. This is possibly because they bear fruit so early, and the pods are large and plump. Good peas.

Lincoln – these were the last ones I planted tonight. Another heirloom from Baker Creek. In their catalogue they describe Lincoln’s as follows: “An old-time pea introduced in 1908. High-yielding and tasty, this pea does better than many in warmer weather.” The vines are described as compact and a good choice for small gardens. We shall see.

That leaves Little Marvel and Cascadia still to plant. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. Then there are the onions, which arrived this week…

It is now tomorrow - the morning was so nice that I couldn't resist finishing the last bed of peas, so Little Marvel and Cascadia went into the ground today. Then I sorted out the driplines - all pulled up from last fall in order to facilitate weeding and the addition of soil ammendments. Lines were relaid in the pea beds, and row covers were placed over the whole lot.

The row covers aren't so much for frost protection as they are for crow protection. After losing all my bean seeds one year to a mysterious cause, I'm not taking any chances any more. Until seedlings are up and able to hold their own, they get some extra protection. Kind of makes the garden look like a bunch of shroud-covered graves, though, doesn't it?

No comments: