Here in the Pacific Northwest we say, “Plant your peas by President’s Day,” and though I wander about pontificating this wisdom, I never quite manage to follow it. As usual, I’m late with my pea planting this year, but now that I’m finally getting to it, I wanted to let ya’ll in on a little pea secret I learned last year.
While perusing my trusty Maritime Northwest Garden Guide by Seattle Tilth, I found pod and snap peas listed in the “Sow Outdoors” list for July. Planting peas in July? I’d never heard of such a thing. I called my various gardeny friends, including one of the editors of the Maritime Guide, and no one had ever tried it. I had a few of my favorite Cascadia snap pea seeds left from the usual late-winter planting, so decided to give it a whirl. The only space I had free in the garden was a narrow, and shaded in the afternoon, but I conjectured that since peas thrive in cool temperatures, that might work out. By the end of August and through early September we had a beautiful little pea harvest. It almost felt like cheating to be snapping crisp, luscious peas in the heat of late summer.
So this year I’m setting aside more seeds for a late-summer harvest–many garden shops and even catalogs quit offering peas much past May, so to do this we need to plan ahead. The common wisdom suggests planting peas in small trenches, and covering them as they grow. I have never done this, and just plant them as I would a bean, about an inch down. But last year I did finally start believing all the experts who said you should plant peas just one inch apart and not thin them. That seems very close, and I always went for 2 inches, which seemed sensible, but the inch-apart pea planting brought forth the most lush, vibrant pea patch I’d ever had.
Happy Pea Season!