Snow Peas?

Here’s the fence along which I am hoping to plant the first seeds of the season:  Snap, or Snow Peas.

Snow peas don’t really want to grow up through this much snow, and I’m hoping that the sun and the highs in the 50’s will melt the last of the drifts before March 17.  Tradition holds that you put peas in by St. Patrick’s day.

Pea basics: 

  • Seeds can be planted 5 weeks before the last spring frost (April 9th at the National Arboretum in DC, April 15th in Rockville).  Peas don’t transplant well.
  • Square foot gardeners should put in 8 seeds per square.  Don’t thin the sprouts.
  • Peas can take up to 2 weeks to germinate, so keep the soil moist and wait.  Coating them with an innoculant (a powdered form of a bacteria that has a symbiotic relationship with peas) can help them germinate more quickly.
  • Set up a trellis while you are waiting for your peas to germinate.  They will need support once the vines start to grow. Better yet: put up the trellis first, then plant.
  • Peas will be ready to harvest about 10 weeks after you plant the seed.
  • After harvest, cut the peas to the ground, but don’t pull up the roots.  Peas fix nitrogen in the soil at their roots.  If you leave the roots in the soil for your next crop, you will have a natural fertilizer ready to feed your tomatoes, cucumbers or squash that you  plant on the same trellis.

This year, I’m planting 3 varieties of peas  that I ordered from D. Landreth’s. 

  • “Caroubey De Mausanne” is a snow pea that comes from Avignon in France.  It should grow 3-5′ and bear purple flowers before setting pods.
  • “Sugar Snap Pole” is a 4-6′ vining pea.  You can shell it or eat the pod, or both.
  • “Little Marvel” is a traditional English pea with a long picking season that is reported to be a high yielder. 

None of these peas will be high yielders if we can’t get to  bare ground soon.  Peas that go in too late will suffer if they have to grow during the hot weather.  I don’t own a blow torch, but am considering hooking up my hairdryer to a very long extension cord.