Friday, February 19, 2010

peas-Pisum sativum

There are three basic type of peas available to a gardener. Regular peas - where you remove the peas inside,and the pod  is not edible. Chinese Peas - A flat, edible podded variety. But, the peas inside are tiny and edible podded ,where both the pod and the peas are edible. They are more tender when picked while still small.This to me is  the most  sensible way to grow and eat peas. There is no time consuming podding, no waste,  and they are nothing but fresh from the garden goodness.  These types of pea  are often called 'Mangetout' or 'Snow peas'.

Here on the homestead we grow  only the edible podded types of peas.Over the last several years we have tried a few types of them  and our own personal favorite is the Oregon sugar pod  or Oregon sugar pod II.

These are an heirloom variety of pea developed at the University of Oregon. They are edible-pod snow peas that are not only not only extra sweet, but an extremely heavy yielder. Pea pods are 4-5", thick (up to an inch wide), stringless when young and  are very tasty. The peas on this variety are also double born or twins thus increasing yields(studies show 21%-50% increase in yield over other snow pea varieties). They are a bush variety pea and grow to about 30 inches tall. It doesn't need to be trellised, however, we have found that is does do better with  something to cling to. It is often recommended that you plants these peas with a tall growing oat much like corn is planted with  beans so that you  have not only a living trellis but another crops that boosts soil fertility as well as another food source. These peas freeze very well and do not lose their color making them an excellent source  of tastiness all through the year. These are  well flavored and excellent for steaming, stir-fries, salads  and  are pretty awesome fresh off the vine. They are one of my favorite kid (big ones too) friendly plants. The Oregon sugar pod  is resistant to both pea enation virus and powdery mildew, unfortunately human predation is a threat to  this  pea.I am forever chasing the humanbean out of my pea patch. If i didn't, we would never have any make it to the house.

Peas are one of my favorite early spring veggies to grow. The plants are very pretty, the flowers beautiful with a sweet, mild aroma and the pea itself is divine. They are easy to grow and are planted as soon as the soil is workable. It is one of a fairly small group of vegetables that actually do much better in the cooler temperatures than they do warm. Peas can tolerate mild freezing temperatures and recover fairly well if snowed upon. Peas actually stop growing altogether  when the air temperature hits 75 degrees consistently for any length of time. They are a short season crop with  most producing in under 75 days leaving plenty of time for a different crop altogether or a second planting for fall in mid-late July.

Today I planted about 50 sf of  our peas here. It is a bit early but if i wait until we plant  potatoes and other cool weather crops it leaves a very small window for them to grow and produce before our weather turns too hot for them. About 15 sf of them  I planted in the gh and the rest are  outside in a raised bed that can easily be covered with a mini hoop house if needed. I cant wait to see the results from attempting  to plant this early. I will follow up this planting with another  closer to the proper time of planting, just in case.  Gambling with  my seed is something I enjoy. A failed crop is only a few cents and  lessons learned while success could mean many more meals provided. It is something I find worthy to try even if I do lose.

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