Delicious Snow peas are one crop that can be started early in the year. But they have a short growing window, and must be planted before most other crops. This guide details the process to prepare, plant and harvest an early crop of snow peas. Be the envy of your gardening friends when you showcase a plate of early spring snow peas.
1. Soil Preparation:
Pick a part of the garden that has full to partial sun to grow your peas. Make sure the soil is well-drained and loose. Peas need a trellis to grow on, so put them on the north side of the garden, to not shade other vegetables.
Get a soil test to see if your soil is acid or alkaline. If your soil is acidic, consider adding a bit of wood ash. Hardwood wood ash is alkaline. It helps to decrease the pH of soils, and adds calcium, potassium, magnesium and potash.
Don’t over fertilize. Snow peas need less Nitrogen and more Phosphorus. Nitrogen stimulates leaf growth, while Phosphorous stimulates fruit growth. Use a 5-10-10 fertilizer.
There are several varieties of Snow Peas:
Golden Sweet Pea
Oregon Sugar Pod II
‘Sugar Pod’ and ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ are good producers.
There are two types of peas: bush and climbing. Both need trellis support. Bush peas will grow two to three feet tall, but will flop over without support. Climbing vines will grow to 6-8 feet tall.
Sow in the spring, when soil is 60 degrees or above. You can plant about 1 month before the last frost. A rule of thumb is to plant before St. Patrick’s Day.
Soak peas overnight to insure strong germination. Coat with an innoculant.
Sow seeds 1-4″ apart, and 1-2″ deep. Sow in ground for best results. Snow Peas can be transplanted if needed. You will get more peas if you plant about 4″ apart.
You can plant Snow Peas in the fall also. Plant fall crops 8-10 weeks before the first frost. A fall crop needs frequent watering because of the heat. They also need shade from sun and heat.
Some people plant in late fall, then wait until spring when they sprout for a very early crop.
Be sure to practice crop rotation to avoid disease. Don’t plant peas in the same spot for at least 3-4 years.
Snow Peas thrive in cool weather, and can tolerate light frosts. However, they stop producing when temperatures get to be 75 degrees or so.
Water deeply once a week; don’t let the soil dry out. Avoid over watering during flowering season.
Intercrop with fast growing spinach or radishes. After harvest, follow with carrots, cucumbers, squash or other summer crops.
Mulch when plants are about 12″ tall. This keeps the soil moist and cuts down weed germination.
Speaking of weeds, don’t hoe around plants to avoid damaging roots. Instead, cut the weeds at the soil surface.
4. Insect pests & recommended solutions:
Pests: Aphids and Mexican Bean Beetles are voracious pests of peas. You can control these by early planting, or by using Ladybugs, Lacewings, or Minute Pirate Bugs.
Diseases: Fusarium wilt and powdery mildew can be taken care of by planting disease-resistant varieties.
Harvest Snow Peas when they are slightly immature for best taste, about 60-70 days after planting. Snow peas are ready to harvest when the pod is still flat. Harvest the lowest growing pods first, by cutting from the vine, not pulling. You can easily pull the plant out of the ground. Pick frequently to encourage more production.
6. Seed saving:
Snow Peas are usually harvested and eaten before the seeds are mature. If you want to save some seeds, leave the pod on the vine until brown, and seeds rattle inside. Harvest and dry the pods indoors at least 2 weeks before you store them in a cool and dry place.
So there you have it. Tips on how to get an early crop of delicious Snow Peas. If you want to get a jump on Snow Pea seeds for next year, look here: https://goo.gl/SBMxLF
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