corn salad

Denny Schrock

peas please

Pea tendrils curling around a twig trellis

I planted my garden peas this week, along with beets, spinach, lettuce, onions, mesclun salad mixes, corn salad, and kohlrabi. I was out of town all last week, or I would have planted these cool-season veggies then. It’s important to get them into the ground early so they’ll mature before hot weather hits.

I grow only edible podded peas in my garden. I like the idea of less waste and less labor in shelling out peas. (I leave the shelling to commercial canners and freezers.) This year I’m growing Sugar Ann, a dwarf type that needs little staking and Sugar Daddy, a stringless variety. (Everyone could use a Sugar Daddy, right?) I also usually grow  Super Sugar Snap or Sugar Snap, the variety that started the snap pea craze when it was introduced back in 1979.

It will take a week to 10 days for the peas to germinate. That gives me a little time to prepare the trellis the taller types need. I like to use a twig trellis for the peas. This time of year I cut back to the ground my butterfly bushes, chaste tree, and beautyberry, which provide plenty of brushy twigs for the peas to climb. To make the trellis, I insert the base end of branches that are about 3 to 4 feet long 6 to 8 inches into the ground so they’ll stand firmly upright. The peas are planted in two rows spaced about 6 inches apart so the twigs are stuck between the two rows, and make a framework for pea plants from both rows to climb on.

The twig trellis holds up well for the entire season, and is easily removed when I pull the pea vines in midsummer. The brush gets recycled into mulch at the end of the year when it’s run through the chipper/shredder.

I’ll have to wait until June to reap the harvest from the peas, but I’m looking forward to the fresh taste of snap peas in salads and stir fries. I always freeze some for use the following winter, too.