It’s been incredibly warm all winter, and this week has been no exception. After a couple inches of snowfall on Sunday evening, we’re back up to the 60’s during the day. Even our overnight temperatures now aren’t dipping below 48! All this gave me the courage to plant some peas yesterday, a week earlier than normal.
Now I’ll admit, I haven’t had very good success with peas in the past. Even last year, when so many things finally started to go right for me in the garden, the peas definitely did not. I got thin germination, and about half the plants that did come up mysteriously began withering a couple of weeks later, almost as if something had eaten away their roots. (Moles? Grubs? Has anyone else had this problem?) I did get a handful of peas to eat, but it was not the most encouraging experience. So I’m going to keep the pea patch small again this year and see if the situation can’t be improved a little.
I know that starting the peas extra-early is probably not be the best way to ensure success. Cold, damp soil can encourage pea seeds to rot rather than sprout. But with the warm weather we’ve been having, I feel like planting now is the equivalent of planting in mid-March in a “normal” year. Just in case, though, I’ve divided my seed into two batches. One batch I soaked overnight and planted directly the next day. The other batch I soaked and then put between wet paper towels to “chit”: sprout indoors and then be planted out when the soil is just a touch warmer. I’ve read this can help with early season plantings.
I’d be very interested to know what your own experiences with growing peas are. What’s your planting method? Have you had any mysterious die-offs? What do you recommend for someone who would really like to see a half-way decent harvest this year? I’m willing to buy more seed and do an entirely new planting if it looks like doing something different could really work!
Here’s what I did last year (and this year). Let me know if you see any obvious flaws. I dug 1/4″ composted steer manure into the bed, along with some of my homemade fertilizer (5 qts. per 100 sq. ft.). After soaking overnight, I planted the peas about 1.5″ deep, 1″ apart in double rows 4″ apart for pole varieties, 6″ apart for bush varieties. The double rows were 3′ apart on center. Then I waited for them to come up!