Peas are a favourite around here – especially sugar snap peas. I have been growing them for a few years now and they are always such a special treat.
|Sugar Snap Peas|
|Freshly Shelled Peas|
|My attempt at gaining access to the shed|
Other than an earlier sowing, the other big change this year was a proper trellis. Every method I had tried in the past was not adequate for one reason or another. In 2014, my attempt using jute was a particularly bad fail.
This time round I decided to try cattle panel and it worked out amazingly well. No flopping, sagging pea vines, no time-consuming trellis building with copious amounts of string, and no plastic trellis to tediously cut twisted vines away from.
|Cattle Panel trellis supporting tall favas and sugar snaps|
The original panels were 8’ long and ended up being much too tall considering that the beds are almost 1’ off the ground already. I cut 1.5’ off the top and used these 20” sections as support for the shelling peas. I placed one panel on each side of the row, attached to rebar that had been sunk into the soil, and it worked out quite well.
|The offcuts from the cattle panel were the perfect size|
for supporting the short shelling pea vines
When it came to the snap peas, I'm convinced that proper trellising made all the difference – this year, the yield increased by 50% from last year’s 444 grams (0.98 lbs) per square foot.
One thing that surprised me was the harvest period. In 2014, I sowed the seed on May 2nd & harvested sugar snaps from July 1st - August 10th. This year, I sowed them 3 weeks earlier, but the harvest period started only 3 days sooner. I suppose I should not have been as surprised as I was considering I do recall Daphne writing about sowing peas earlier and seeing little difference in when they matured.
For the shelling peas, I have no comparators as this was my first year growing them. I had always heard that shelling peas were not worthwhile growing as they didn’t produce very much for the space they occupied. Well, I for one, was very impressed with their production.
Those are actual numbers – how strange that they added up to exactly 1 kg! We only occasionally eat cooked peas, so this was more than enough for us to enjoy some fresh (raw, actually!) and have a bag left over to freeze.
Both varieties were equally sweet & produced their crop within a relatively tight window. Aladdin is a particularly good choice for freezing as all of the pods matured within a 3 day period.
|Aladdin Shelling Peas|
|Sabre Shelling Peas|
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
It was a very good year for peas. Since they were planted early and the heat of summer (& subsequent watering issues) didn’t kick in until late June, they were one of the few crops that didn’t suffer from inadequate irrigation.
After 2 years of pea trellis fails, I finally have a good trellising method, both for the climbing peas and the short bush types – YAY! No more experimentation needed on that front.
Shelling peas are here to stay. Based on what I had heard in the past, I expected to harvest barely enough peas for one meal from my planting. So you can imagine how impressed I was by their actual productivity, especially as they occupied only a small 2’ x 7’ spot that later became available for another crop (an experimental late sowing of zucchini, which did end up producing a few fruits).
Next year, I’ll be growing the same 2 shelling pea varieties in the same manner & utilizing their spot in the bed for another crop (as yet undecided) once they are done. I’ve been growing “Sugar Snap” peas from saved seed for a few years and will continue to do so next year. I'm also planning to add a snow pea to the mix.
One thing that I really want to try next year is a succession sowing of the sugar snaps. The spring sowing I've always done provides a steady supply of peas for about a week, then a glut for about 2 weeks, and then a steady supply for another week or so. I'm wondering what would happen if I sowed half the space as usual, and then the other half in early summer. Ideally, this would eliminate the glut and provide some fresh sugar snaps over a 2 month (vs. 1 month) period. The only question is how would they fair during the heat of summer.
Since I stored the plastic and rebar needed to warm up the beds in the garage this winter, I will see if I can get those seeds in the ground even sooner than I did last year. Of course, that all depends on what Mother Nature throws at us this spring. If I find that early sowing once again makes little difference to when the vines start bearing, I'll likely go back to sowing in early May. Why fuss with plastic and rebar if you don't have to.