Monday, May 14, 2012

Preparing & Training Spring Peas

Here in the high desert, I've learned it is best to plant peas early March. For the most part, March is warm enough for the cool weather crops to germinate, sprout, and begin to grow.

This year, on March 14th, I planted my peas out. I created a well composted area along the west side of my house and planted my peas between two metal fence posts. The posts took me about three times the time to pound into my hard-pan (the local term for the hard layer of dirt under the normal top-soil) than it did for me to create a row and plant the seeds; aside from the extra effort, it was well worth it!

We had an unusually cool spring in the beginning. My peas have finally begun to grow, so I am just getting around to training them on their strings along the poles. Training your peas is not only beneficial for the plant, but it's utmost benefits are toward the gardener!

Training your peas are simple and takes only a matter of a few minutes to complete. The pay-off of these 'few minutes' will leave you wondering, "why not take the time?!"
(The following are the steps I have taken in my garden for three years and have had enough of a crop to enjoy fresh, almost excessively, and to freeze to enjoy later!)

Step 1:  First, you must plant your peas between two posts or markers.

For my garden, I have chosen notched metal stakes that I had to pound deep into the ground. They are sturdy and reliable; hence the reason I went with them (that, they were available to me, and they have the ability to keep my string at my desired height).

Once your seeds have sprouted and are a good four to five inches tall, it is about time to train them to grow up! Their 'fingers' are longing for a purpose ('fingers' refers to their tendrils they shoot off to climb things).

Step 2:

Beginning at one post/marker, I tie a basic knot with twine(generally I get a 50' spool of basic garden twine at Dollar Tree, but any twine or rope would suffice).

Once I have securely attached the twine, I take it and string it evenly between the two posts.
When I reach the opposite end of the row, I simply wrap the twine along the post in an upwards direction to bring the twine to a higher point on the opposite post.
 When I have reached my desired height, I string it towards my first post, creating parallel lines of twine for the peas to grow up on.

I usually create four or five rows of twine to make sure the peas have plenty of room, and then tie it off at a post when I think the rows extend high enough (usually about three to four feet high). I also ensure the twine is secure and semi-immovable.

Step 3: Once your twine is in place, you must guide the peas to grow up the twine. This task simply involves guiding the young plants to grow up (training their 'fingers' around the twine, or simply placing the seedling itself along the rope).

 When I was a little girl, training spring peas was something I always enjoyed with my grandfather and my parents. Ever since, I have followed this advice in my own garden, and stick to my grandfathers primary unspoken principles as if they were law.

Time will tell how this works out for myself, and my garden, this year! I am eagerly anticipating what my garden has in store for me!!

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