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You may have heard that you should plant peas around Presidents Day. This may be good advice in some parts of the country, but around here many people experience that as too early. Our Northwest soils are still very cold and water saturated in mid-February. Many times the seed simply rots before it has a chance to germinate. This is also a time of year when the birds and mice are scavenging vigorously for food. They love the taste of those water softened pea seeds and will scratch them up, leaving you wondering why your peas didn’t come up. The main reason for sowing pea seed early is that peas are a cool season plant. When it gets too hot into the summer, they will quit bearing fruit and the season is over for peas. However, on Whidbey Island, our summer temperatures generally stay on the moderate side. This provides for a naturally extended cool growing season, which is not great for things like tomatoes and melons, but is just right for peas.
Whether sweet peas or vegetable peas, it helps to start them indoors around President’s Day. Soak the seed overnight in water before planting to help soften the seed coat. Plant outdoors in mid-March. Be sure to dig in plenty of compost to the seed bed, and organic granular fertilizer. Hit is with some liquid fish fertilizer after they are up and running to help the process along. Beware of slugs rasping off the tender new growth. If we have a hot, early summer (fat chance), your harvest season will be short, but most likely you’ll have some fresh peas to enjoy with friend and family for the Fourth of July picnic.
Bayview Farm and Garden
Farm & Garden