Friday, January 16, 2009

PEAS Be Warned

Keeping a blog, or blogging, is akin to journaling, or keeping a diary.  Starting seeds for our little nursery business becomes such a frenzied activity in the spring that we sometimes lose track of when we start what.  I kept better records last year and recorded that my first batch of Snow and Sugar Snap Peas were started on January 26th.  I didn't record the temperature that day, or make any notation about the weather but I should have.  A warm sunny day sparks illogical thought followed by reckless behavior.  Staring peas is pretty safe, though, unless we are inundated with a prolonged period of rain and darkness which would create a terrific environment for molds, an unspeakable aberration on a petite pois.
These past weeks have been unusually warm and bright so I could hardly contain myself.  Abracadabra!  There are now 16 trays of jumbo six packs of peas on the shelves.  
And now for the disclaimer.  You really shouldn't transplant peas.  You really shouldn't transplant beans, either, and there are other things on that Do Not Transplant list which I will go into at another time.  By that I mean you should put the seeds directly into the ground where you want them to grow and therefore bypass the transplanting phase.  Peas don't like it.  They grow too fast.  They don' want to have their roots meddled with.  They prefer to germinate and get right to the business of setting roots and stems in situ.  BUT.  If you must buy pea plants from folks such as us, wily purveyors of puny pea seedlings, then buy truly puny ones.  If they look like pea plants they are probably way too far gone in the container, too confused and highly unlikely to ever really be a flowering, pea-podding plant.  What you want are pea 'sprouts' - tiny little plants that have just emerged from their pea seed and are still too young to know much about their own impending life cycle.  Buy them, take them home, and pluck them quickly form their little six-pack cell and drop them into the ground.  Don't shake the dirt off, don't try to observe the roots, don't do anything but get them in the ground. Give them a little water and walk away.  Forget about them.  They don't need you and won't need you at all unless there is a terrible drought in which case they will dry up and die and definitely won't need you.
The peas is an ancient plant that has survived much worse than you are likely to dish out.  They know how to grow and climb and flower and make peas.  You will pick them and eat the pods before the peas mature (snow peas) or when the peas are very small (sugar snap peas) or  when they are full to bursting from the pod (shelling peas).
Finally, peas are happy in cold weather and do best when planted in early spring for spring harvest or late summer for fall harvest.  Summer peas harvested in hot weather tend to be a little tough and tasteless.  So celebrate the cool weather pea!

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