Snow peas for shoots AND tips?

PaulNS(NS zone 6a)June 12, 2006

The local resort has opened for the summer and the chef is excited about the prospect of us growing pea shoots for him - he'd take 5 lbs/week. I'd like to supply him but that's a lot of space - we have 1/2 acre and much of it is in perennials (berries, asparagus).

Can the pea plants be made to do double duty - if we clip the shoots, will the plants regrow and produce pods? I did a GW search and couldn't find the answer to this specific question.

The seed we have is Oregon sugar snap II.

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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

and pods, that is

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 9:00AM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

You can either sow solid flats just for new young shoots, or you can allow the plants to get larger and cut tips (that'd be a lot of time consuming cutting).

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 11:26AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

I suppose we could try both - I wasn't planning to sow anything in flats, though. Maybe just this year.

Has anybody tried growing both for shoots and pods? A kind of cut and come again pea? Are the later pea shoots tender and harvest-worthy?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 6:36AM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

paulns,

It would be much more efficient for you to sow flats and take an even hair cut rather than hand select the varied tips of each plant and cut them so that you end up with five pounds of tips. later pea shoots will be tender if harvested at the proper time and if environmental conditions are optimum. Choose snow pea and snap varieties that are recommended for shoot harvest. I don't recommend attempting to grow plants for double duty of pods and tips, it simply is not efficient and cutting off shoots that have flowering buds (which is preferred) simply defeats the purpose of growing a plant that produces fruit. If I were you, I'd figure out how many pounds per week you need to harvest and seed the flats. They sprout quick and if you buy seed in bulk, there shouldn't be any problem having a constant supply.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 10:04AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Paul,

I think Violet is right on about that. A commercial grower talked about that a year ago. Unfortunately, I cannot find that post. I do recall that she used the densely planted tray method.

Jim

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 3:15PM
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billme(6 Pennsylvania)

I agree with Violet, too. I have harvested shoots from fruiting plants, but the trade-off in time doesn't justify the return. If you don't want to do flats, you can seed densely in the ground and use the hair-cut method that way, but it adds the bending/ stooping motion to an already tedious task. Make sure your chef has a realistic expectation of what you can provide ... this has to work for bothof you.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 10:24PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Okay - you've talked me into it. Could I fill the flats with garden soil or is potting soil prefered? Do you cut just once and compost the rest?

This chef's enthusiasm and his dedication to buying local organic produce are great but he's lost his usual local produce supplier and has high (unrealistic) hopes of us. We are trying to be realistic with him. But now I'm kind of excited about trying this pea shoot growing - sounds relatively easy.

I'm going to sow a flat with Oregon sugar snap and meanwhile look around for bulk supplies. Has anybody tried Dwarf grey sugar? It is an heirloom and the recommended shoot variety acccording to some sources. Prices are comparable to other snow pea varieties.

Here is a link that might be useful: dwarf grey sugar

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 7:33AM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

There are plenty of mail order companies where you should be able to buy in bulk.

Harvest and let them grow again.

Always use potting soil in containers, never ground soil.

If you read about varieties which are better for shoots, use those if you can get them.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 3:26PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

I think I used Oregon Sugar Pod for my pea shoots, which were delicious. Sort of nutty-spinachy.

This is the reference I used when I grew mine: Snow pea shoots.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 7:52PM
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billme(6 Pennsylvania)

You could almost use sand, all you want is a medium for germination and a bit of growth. Save your valuable compost for them what needs it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 2:00AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Thanks for this advice.
fliptx that's an excellent guide.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 1:37PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Paul,

Since your main expense will probably be seed, look around for a company which supplies seed to commercial growers. There are many. The price will be low. I'll give you a link to one such company. I'm not sure it's the cheapest.

Jim

Here is a link that might be useful: Bunton Seed

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 3:39PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Just had a chance to check out your blog, billme - great stuff!

Paul's Pea Blog
I have some credit with Vesey's which isn't cheap - will try to find a better source of bulk peas.
So I've started a tray full of Oregon sugar in potting soil (sand? hmm...Maybe sand and my own sterilized soil? Purchased potting soil adds up too). I'm following most of the instructions in flip's link. According to instructions, "You will learn for yourself that some Greens (like these) produce a plant that takes up less room than the seed and so, to maximize your yield your seeds must lay atop each other to some degree." This is odd - maybe try it next time. This time I've planted them close but not touching. The peas sit on the surface. Most of them have sunk their little nano-probes into the soil, which is spooky, and are putting up shoots.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 8:35AM
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digit(ID/WA)

Paul, we sell pea shoots at the farmers' market but just a few handfuls at a time. Mostly, we are going around the trellis and breaking off anything that is trying to make an escape. These vines are likely to just break with the weight of the pods and lay down in the paths. (Just a trim around the ears. ;o)

Remember, you are only using the ends of the tendrils - about 4 to 6 inches long and including 2 or 3 pairs of leaves only. DonÂt go farther down the vine  the lower parts of the vine become coarse after only a few days. You can harvest right up until the flowers bloom.

Linked below is a pdf growing guide from WA State U.

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Pea Shoots

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 9:40PM
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digit(ID/WA)

Oh, we've bought pea seed mostly from Jordan Seeds the last few years. A very "clunky" website and it is awkward to order online but there's a phone #. I usually just mail it in. The price is very good on bulk orders.

Honestly, I don't think you would be very happy with Dwarf Grey Sugar. Your Oregon Sugar Pod II will be a good choice.

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Jordan Seed

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 10:02PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Those are good prices. The lowest I've seen here is $17.95/2 kg (4.4 lbs), plus 4.95 shipping plus 15% tax. But will keep looking. US sources usually don't translate (with shipping, customs etc.) into cheap for us....I got a pound of Oregon and am soaking them to make a large batch. The ones I started earlier are up to 7" tall now. A few didn't germinate and many did but didn't get their roots into the soil so next time I'll cover all with a thin layer of soil.

That's a helpful pdf digit, it's good to get many perspectives on the subject.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 9:33AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

So...I've planted the second batch of peas, pre-sprouted. Re: the last batch: I cut it at 6-8", put the shoots in a bowl meaning to stir fry them, but we had company and they devoured the shoots raw. The whole batch weighed 1/4 lb which, at the price I paid for materials, means I'd have to charge $20/lb just to get my investment back.

Luckily I've found a much cheaper source of snow pea seed (Oregon sugar pod) from a sprouting company in Saskatchewan - about 1.85/lb.

On the first batch of shoots, the leaves were kind of small and crinkled, not fully open and flat like the shoots on peas in the garden. Does anybody know why this is? I had the tray indoors, occasionally in full sun. Do they need to be in full sun all the time to get nice big leaves?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 5:29PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

I had the tray indoors, occasionally in full sun. Do they need to be in full sun all the time to get nice big leaves?

Yes. That's why they say vegetables require 6-8 hours of full sun.

;)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 8:49PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Violet when I think 'lack of sun' I picture pale, stretched plants, and these were neither. They just had smallish, crinkly leaves. But I'll try giving this next batch more light.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 12:39PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

Well, yours were in full sun, just not for very long it sounds like. It could also be an attribute of that particular variety.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 1:02PM
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digit(ID/WA)

Our snow pea season is rapidly coming to a hiatus, Paul. There are very hot and dry conditions here. We picked what may be the last of the pods yesterday from the 3rd planting and it has been a couple weeks since we've felt it worthwhile to remove any tendrils.

When the weather begins to cool with a couple of good rain storms in late August, more OR Sugar Pod seed will go into the ground. By then, it will be too late to get many pods (some years - none). Our 1st frost may not come before October but a generally dry and cooling September slows down the peas for much growth. The tendrils off one or two-foot high plants may be all we can hope for. Nevertheless, as a tasty salad vegetable - that's quite nice. And, since the plants don't grow very tall, there's no need to build another trellis.

Steve

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 9:18PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

I'm glad you posted digit because I've been thinking about a fall planting of peas - haven't tried that before. Sounds worthwhile, at least for shoots.

Giving this last batch of peas more sun really paid off - harvested half a pound of shoots from the tray, double the last batch. I'm ordering speckled peas from Mumm's, an organic sprouting seed company.

Here is a link that might be useful: mumm's

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 7:00AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

(Steve, that is)

Just sold a tray's worth - 10 ounces - for a bargain $10 to the chef, who was thrilled. He said he likes to pour very hot garlic and ginger-infused oil over the shoots, rather than stir fry them.

Next time I'll charge more. To tell you the truth I'm not sure these are worth growing, given the time and expense. Although an 11 pound bag of speckled peas for 15.90 and free shipping from Mumm's is pretty good.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 8:21AM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

Whether they are worth growing or not depends on how many buyers you can line up. If you can provide them on a regular basis to multiple buyers, it may be worth your while.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 5:55PM
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digit(ID/WA)

Paul, we sell a bunch for a $. The gathered stems aren't as large as my thumb. I'm guessing that it would be about the same . . . $1 per ounce. Really, should weigh them to get an idea. Hopefully, they will be back for us in about 6 weeks or so.

Harvesting from the Spring crop is very limited since we don't want to limit the pods from developing. Peas aren't a very productive crop either. And, building trellises is time consuming. I certainly wouldn't want to take up indoor space, either.

I think that an outdoor Fall crop would generally be more profitable if, as Violet says, you have buyers. Production costs would be low. You'd need to be resourceful to make much $$.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 12:47AM
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