It’s time to plant peas–we’re a few weeks from average last frost date (April 15th in Kitsap County).
Last year I grew snow peas (a favorite from my childhood); this year I’ve chosen sugar snap. And because I love fragrant flowers, I usually grow sweet peas, too. This year I’m trying Finnriver Sweet Pea Mix grown by Essential Blooms in Chimacum, WA for Hudson Valley Seed Co.
Peas are a cool weather crop, which makes it hard to remember that if you plant them too early, they won’t germinate–and in our wet soils, the seeds can rot before sprouting.
I’ve heard people say they like to get them in around President’s day, but in my garden, that’s too early in all but the warmest of springs. Of course, nothing says you can’t be early & optimistic, replanting later if needed.
Besides planting too early, one of the pitfalls I’ve experienced is losing the seed and/or tiny sprouts to hungry birds. It’s happened with corn and beans, too. When I think about it, it makes sense–the seed I’m putting in the ground is the form I myself will eat at harvest time (perhaps just a bit drier). Why wouldn’t a bird be drawn to the nourishing meal of a whole pea, bean or corn kernel?
This is why I take an extra step after I plant peas (and beans and corn), and cover the area with some wire mesh. It’s kind of a pain, but it’s better than having to plant seed again in a few weeks, having lost precious growing time.
Well-secured and staked in place 6 inches over the soil level, the mesh protects it from getting crushed or eaten before the seedling forms the first 2 sets of true leaves. When they’re all up and thriving, the mesh comes off and I begin to train them to climb.
For more information about growing peas in the Pacific Northwest, WSU’s Home Gardening Series has a great publication: Growing Green Peas in the Home Garden
To learn about Essential Bloom’s Finnriver Sweet Pea Mix: Essential Blooms