Planting Garden and Snow Peas
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Garden peas, and their relatives, snow peas and sugar snaps, are simple and productive crops that almost anyone can grow. Peas grow best in sunny areas with well drained soil that is not too acidic, ideally with a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5. In coastal areas, peas can be planted outside as early as mid January. Even away from the coast peas should be planted by mid February at the latest so they have enough time to mature before hot weather sets in. Garden and snow peas that mature when temperatures are above 80° will be starchy and tough.
Soaking pea seeds in a jar of water for six to eight hours immediately before planting will help them germinate faster but is not absolutely necessary. Seeds may also be treated with Rhizobium inoculant, a natural bacterium that helps peas and other legumes convert nitrogen from the air into a form plants can use. If you are planting peas in an area where peas or beans have not been grown before, treating pea seeds with inoculant before planting may improve growth.
To apply inoculant simply pour some into a bag, add the presoaked seeds and shake until the peas are coated. Immediately plant treated seed in the garden. Sow seeds an inch deep and one to two inches apart. Water well after sowing and keep moist until seedlings begin to emerge, usually within seven to ten days. Be sure to provide a low trellis such as pea fencing or a latticework of twiggy branches for the vines to climb upon.
Fresh peas will be ready to harvest 65 to 80 days after planting. When the pea pods swell they are ready to be picked. Peas are of the best quality when they are fully expanded but immature, before they become hard and starchy. Peas should be picked immediately before cooking because their quality and sweetness deteriorates rapidly. High fertility will cause excessive vine growth and poor yields so be conservative with fertilizer applications.
Learn more about growing peas from this Extension fact sheet:http://www.clemson.edu/
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