Growing Peas

ezzirah011(7a)February 14, 2012

I have some snow peas and regular sugar snap peas that I try to grow every year. Every year I never get enough for barely a stir fry. This year I am determined to get me some peas growing.

My question is do you grow your peas? I always plant by seed, don't put too much in the way of compost or fertilizer in the ground and keep a good even moisture. They grow, but not much before they get brown around the bottom where the plant goes into the dirt and then just dies. I am doing something way wrong, was wondering what others do so that maybe I can spot what I am doing wrong....



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A few years ago, Kip on Victory Garden showed how to plant Super Sugar Snaps. He said, Peas will grow better in cold soil than they will germinate. Since then I have started my peas indoors. I started with peat pots as he did, then last year I put into toilet paper rolls, cut in half. I am soaking my seeds today and as soon as they sprout will take them to the greenhouse to plant them in the rolls. I will put them into the ground the first week of March, tubes and all. I usually start two batches, two weeks apart. Since I started doing this I get a wonderful harvest. I start at least 300 plants a year and eat on them through May. Usually have at least a five gallon bucket of pods Memorial Day to freeze. We've talked about this over the years in more detail, so you should be able to do a search for even more info.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Dorothy, Thanks, those are cool suggestions. I planted only one batch last year, I will try two batches as you did this year. Last year, I started them in sam's alluvium dish trays filled with seed starting mix. I sown per-soaked seeds at 3/4" apart, when they reach 2-3 inches ht, plant them in garden bed by gently separating each seedling without disturbing the root system. They did well, I am trying same approach this year in addition to direct sowing per-sprouted seeds just to quantify differences in vigor and production. -Chandra

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Ezzirah, There has to be a reason that your pea plants are turning brown and dying. It could be that the soil stays too wet for them, that your soil pH is lower than 6.5 or higher than 7.5, or that they are contracting a fungal disease. After they have died, have you ever pulled up one and looked at the roots for signs of root rot?

Also, how long do they live? Is it more like a week or two, or a month or two? Somewhere in between?

Like Dorothy, I have much better success with peas started indoors. They sprout so slowly in wet soil and I think they tend to get diseased much easier, or at least they succumb to disease because they are weaker in cold soil. If they get off to a poor start because of cold soil, they often seem to be slow to grow and produce for many weeks, and that means it can be hard to get a good harvest before the heat begins to have a negative effect on them.

I pre-soak my seeds in water for a few hours, then pour them into a ziplock bag with bean/pea innoculant, shake the bag to cover them with the innoculating powder, then plant them into 3 oz. paper cups filled with a sterile, soil-less seed-starting mix. I poke holes in the bottom of the cups before putting the soil-less mix in them. When I transplant the pea plants into the ground, I plant the paper cup along with the plants to avoid disturbing the roots and to minimize the chance of transplant shock.

I try to soak the seed and plant it into the cups in mid-Feb. for the first round and put the young, small plants into the ground in early March. I do two plantings about two weeks apart in a good year when I have adequate time. Sometimes in a bad fire winter, I am short of time and either do one big planting, or my late planting sometimes doesn't make it into the ground until 3 or 4 weeks after the first.

I move the trellis from one raised bed to another every year so the peas are not growing in the same place every year, which can be important in preventing disease. That's also why I innoculate them. If you are planting peas (or beans) into an area where you've recently grown peas (or beans), the innoculant probably is not necessary.

I usually plant a double row of peas in a raised bed, with the trellis running down the middle of the bed and a row of pea plants on either side. Usually my pea rows are about 30' long.

Even in a bad year like last year, I'll harvest several pounds of sugar snap peas. In the best sugar snap pea year we've ever had, which was 2010, we harvested 35 lbs. 9 oz. of the two varieties Sugar Snap and Super Sugar Snap. I try to plant 3 to 5 varieties, both pole and bush types. If you're going for the maximum production in the space available, pole types will give you a bigger harvest.

In the early 2000s we went through a period with several 'hot' winters back to back, and I finally just stopped planting snap peas for a few years because the weather heated up so early that it was burning up the plants before they could produce much. That hasn't been a issue the last 4 years or so.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Ezzirah, you didn't say when you plant. If you are planting very early, it could be, as Dawn said, that the plants are stressed by cold soil and weather. The only problem I have with peas done by this system is rabbits eating the transplants. I sprinkle with human and dog hair and with bloodmeal but the rabbits still get some of them--until we get the rabbit. Our dog will bark at the garden gate when he knows there is a rabbit in there. Last year he killed three when I let him in on different days.

I do things much like Dawn, moving the trellis every year, but I no longer plant a double row. The plants get so thick that I was missing too many pods, so now just plant a single row on one side of the trellis.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 6:48PM
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Ok, I see several things I am doing wrong.

1, I am planting too early, direct sow, some was going in the ground this weekend.

2,I need to start indoors.

3, I put innoculant in the hole I put the seed in, But I don't soak the seed and I don't cover the seed with it. I only have a small hobby garden compared to the size some of you have, so one trellis, three plants on a 5' by 5' trellis. I am serious the plants what does grow stays about one month, I may get 5 sugar snap peas in that month,LOL, then they get brown at the bottom, start to yellow up the stem and die off. I thought that was the natural progression of the plant. But if you guy's plants stay around for a bit longer and produce way more, then I am doing something way wrong!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 8:22PM
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Ezzirah011 - Are you saying you only plant 3 pea plants on a five foot tellis? I plant about every four inches and I just read that some plant every two when they trellis.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 8:43PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Ezzirah, You can plant one snap peas plant every couple of inches. I space mine about the same as Dorothy's. Three plants won't give you very many snap peas at one time, even if the three plants are very healthy and produce heavily. With 5' of row space along the trellis, you can plant a lot more plants than just three. With 5' of trellis space you ought to be able to harvest quite a few snap peas for fresh eating.

Dorothy, I should only plant on one side of the trellis because it can be awfully hard to find those peas when the vines are so thick, but you know it is impossibly hard for me to plant 'less' of anything when my brain is screaming "more, more, more!".

I tried something different last year, and I really liked it. I planted Sugar Snap and Super Sugar Snap on one side of the trellis, then came back two weeks later and planted Opal Creek Yellow and Spring Blush on the other side. I don't know that it made it any easier to find the snaps and sugar snaps, but the usual color of the yellow and pink snap peas made them easy to find.

Have you ever noticed that when you miss a Sugar Snap or Super Sugar Snap and they reach a gigantic size and the pods harden, they kind of look like a big tomato hornworm (minus the horn)?


    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 9:10PM
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Oh my!?! I figured from pictures I have seen that the plants would cover the trellis! They are so small though, I cannot imagine it being thick enough to not find the peas! Oh heck...ok, problem number 4, plant much, much denser!

I am thinking I may have to mulch heavy, normally I plant spinach at the bottom of the trellis, just two or three plants as well, I may plant those denser to help control moisture, although this year I am installing a drip irrigation. The trellis I plant the peas in stand alone in it's own 2' x 9' bed. Radishes go on the extra space at the end.


I like the different color idea!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 6:26AM
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I figure a plant every two inches.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 9:44AM
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