Peas are considered one of the cool weather crops that are planted as soon after the last frost as possible, and they are sown directly in the ground.
A tiny plant embryo lives inside the hard outer shell, and the hard outer shell must soften so the embryo can break through it.
Soaking the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting softens the hard shell, hastening germination considerably.
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Choosing the right type of pea
When it comes to growing peas, people think of varieties that grow on vines because bush varieties aren’t as well grown.
Bush varieties are ideal for people who want to grow vegetables in containers, or who don’t want to go to the expense of providing the supports that are necessary for peas grown on vines.
A good way to find out about all the types of peas that are available is by ordering catalogs from well-known seed companies.
Container Seeds is an ideal resource for anyone looking to grow peas in containers.
Before Planting Pea Seeds
Pea seeds are very hard. As with all seeds, there is a live plant embryo inside the hard casing.
That hard casing must become soft enough to allow the seed to sprout.
Soaking pea seeds in room temperature water, preferably for at least 24 hours can expedite germination.
Planting Pea Seeds
Seeds should be planted in well loosened soil, whether in the ground or in containers.
Tilling the ground before planting will loosen the soil and turn the top soil under, slowing the process of erosion. Rotate crop placement every year to prevent the spread of soil-borne diseases.
The addition of organic matter such as compost can improve soil fertility and loosen the soil so that water gets distributed evenly below the surface.
Pea seeds typically germinate in about a week’s time. Peas should be ready for harvest in anywhere from 45 to 65 days. Be sure that the planting location gets plenty of sun.
Since the seeds are large, take the time to space them several inches apart. Doing this will eliminate the need to thin crowded seedlings, something that will result in wasted seeds.
If planting peas that grow on vines, plant them in rows. This will make it easier to provide support for all of the plants. Vines have tendrils that will attach themselves to the supports as the plants grow taller.
Extending a Pea Harvest
Peas have a short growing season since they are cool weather crops. Rather than planting a large amount of seeds at one time, pea lovers would do well to plant seeds sequentially, staggering plantings so that they can harvest the crop until the plants succumb to the effects of heat.
Since peas grow in cool weather, they can be planted again late in summer, provided they can be harvested before a freeze kills off the plants.
As with spring planting, the harvest can be extended by planting fewer seeds at a time. Plant batches a week or two apart. Peas will tolerate some hot days provided night time temperatures are cooler.
How to Water Pea Plants
Many inexperienced gardeners make the mistake of watering their plants every day and giving the plants a small amount of water. This is an ineffective and inefficient way to water.
Small amounts of water, regardless of the frequency, do not penetrate deeply enough into the soil to provide the seed, and later the plants, the water they need in order to absorb nutrients from the soil.
Depending on the amount of rainfall that an area is receiving, it may only be necessary to water peas once or twice a week.
Allow the sprinkler to remain on the plants for 1 1/2 to 2 hours so that the water will penetrate deeply into the soil. Water early in the morning so that the leaves dry out quickly.
Watering later in the evening or after dark allows water to remain on the leaves, providing harmful insects with the perfect environment in which to attack. Insects typically come out around sundown, and remain present until sun up.
Peas can grow perfectly successfully without any fertilizer, but those who wish to provide some fertilizer may want to fertilize the plants after the seeds are planted.
It is important to rotate the placement of peas when planting them year after year. Crop rotation prevents the spread of soil born diseases and the depletion of nutrients that any one crop requires.
In places where birds or other creatures are likely to try to dig up newly planted seeds, a protective covering with a mesh fabric or other type of mulch can be helpful. Mulch will also keep the soil temperature consistent and aid in moisture retention.