The Truth about Peas

It’s the first Farmers Market of the season

– the May long weekend – and as sure as a frost in May, someone is going to ask me if I have any pea seeds for sale.  Oh the calamity.

I could smile, show them the pea seeds, up-sell them on all sorts of other vegetable visions, and burn their money for them.  Or I could crush their dreams of instagraming photos of their sweet vegetable-loving children eating fresh home grown sugar snap peas straight off the vine.  AND forgo the sale.

My response usually depends on the amount of cold coffee curdling in my cup and how cute their kids puppies are. You’ll need a puppy.

There is that chance in a million that I am looking at a very savvy gardener who is buying pea seeds for a fall planting or to store them for next season.  More likely than not, I am staring into the hazy eyes of a parent who is desperately hoping that by starting this vegetable garden the kids will eat some *#$!%ing vegetables.  And what better vegetable to start with than peas?!

Here is the cold sugar-snap truth:  It is great to start with peas….in April.  Peas don’t like heat.  Sure they will sprout in May, but when June brings hot muggy days, you may as well count the number of pea blossoms on one hand because that will be your total pea count.  5 meagre peas for a lot of watering and weeding.

So don’t buy the pea seeds in May, unless you’re going to store them or plant them in the fall (not likely for a bleary eyed parent trust me).

Next season when you read my April blog post that says “plant peas now”, you’ll know what to do.

The fine print:

  1. There are pea varieties that are “heat tolerant” – this means that the plants won’t stop flowering with the first heat wave we get…but it doesn’t mean that they will burst forth with new energy and bloom like dandelions either
  2. Somehow there are farmers who grow peas later in the season. They are good.  Buy their peas.
  3. Check the variety – dwarf varieties don’t need supports to climb up, heirloom sugar snaps do.  Some are meant to be shelled like your great grandparents used to do on the porch with a bucket, some are meant to be eaten like fast food in the garden shell and all.

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