Like Timmy Willie in Beatrix Potter’s story, we love snow peas – those crunchy, fresh, sweet pea pods grown in the spring!
“The gardener left the hamper by the garden gate, so that the carrier could pick it up when he passed. Timmy Willie crept in through a hole in the wicker- work, and after eating some peas—Timmy Willie fell fast asleep.” ~ Beatrix Potter’s The Tale Of Johnny Town-Mouse.
Especially for you gardeners with limited space, you can “double crop” and use the same ground twice in the same season! I will attempt to show you how!
Starting with cool weather crops like peas (or turnips, lettuce, or beets) you can have them planted, grown, and harvested by the time to plant the warm weather veggies like tomatoes and peppers, eggplant and okra, squash and bush or pole beans.
The key is timing and composting to maintain fertility of the soil. You should start early with your first planting so it will be done and out in 60 days or so.
Peas, beets, chard, and broccoli take 60 days; lettuces take 50 days, spinach 45 days, and radishes take only 30 days!
This is just one example, but on March 28, I planted snow peas right where I will be planting my pole beans in early June. Snow peas germinate in 6-10 days and are ready to harvest in 60 days.
You can do like my father’s family in Holland…just plant your pole beans 3-4″ inches away from the base of the pea vines, and once the beans have germinated, you can CUT out the old, depleted pea vines so you won’t disturb the new ones and throw them into your compost pile. In this way, working outdoors, within the constraints of your garden zone, there is a beautiful cycle that keeps us in touch with life and is a gift from the Creator.
I am already thinking about going out with my slightly beat up, old brown speckle-ware pan and picking these succulent snackers. With nothing to shell, you can eat the whole sweet pod and they are string-less. They are perfect for stir-fries and salads.
‘Avalanche’ snow peas grow to be semi-leafless vine about 30-inches tall. They put more energy into producing pods so there is more to put on the plate. You do not need to trellis them; you can plant 2 to 3 rows close together and plants will intertwine, becoming self-supporting.
These peas, as well as most peas and corn seed have a anti-fungal agent on them (pink stuff) to prevent rotting in wet spring soils. I am investigating a natural agent for this purpose which is a good alternative and will post on this in the future. I am cautious about using treated seed. Up until recently we all have no alternative, but it is coming!
In the case of this spring’s frequent and heavy rains, without the anti-fungal agent, the pea seeds would have rotted before they could have germinated. The delayed warmth has also delayed the germination time to 14 days (usually 6-10). When the sun shines, the soil warms; some years are just slower than others!
I forgot to use an ‘innoculant’, a natural bacteria which helps fix nitrogen on the bean and pea roots. You will get heavier crops. I will scratch some into the soil around the seedlings tomorrow!
Peas grow well with carrots, beans, radishes, cucumbers, corn, and potatoes. They do not grow well with onions and garlic, according to Louise Riotte, author of Carrots Love Tomatoes.