Local Food: Sugar Snap Peas
My Sweet Peas
It started in early January, the hankering to grow sugar-snap peas (which where I come from we call sweet-peas). I placed a handful of Botanical Interests seeds in a cup of warm water and let them sit for a hour. Later, I folded the seeds into a wet paper towel and zipped them up in a plastic bag and placed them on the heating vent.
I plant peas because my grandmother loves them. Each year we usually get into a growing contest which she wins. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina, which is perfect for pea-growing.
My mother-in-law had recently given me a cold frame. She knows spring fever comes early for me; knew I would put the garden tool to good use. I also knew that peas grow best when soaked, or in this case, partially sprouted.Here in Atlanta (zone 7a or b zip code depending), my desire for peas better start early. The weather is unpredictable and by April it is usually way too hot to plant peas and other cold-hardy plants.
Two days later, a tiny nub escaped the hard shells. It was time to take the seeds outside. Now I must say that I attempted sprouting the pea seeds in tea bags. A friend of mine had posted an image on her Facebook account. The results from my experiment follow: the tea bag dried out rapidly. In order to keep the bags wet enough to sprout the peas, the tea soured causing the seeds to rot. Conclusion: disaster. Paper towels and plastic bags worked best.
As an aside, I do have Brussels sprouts seedlings in the ground and will keep y’all posted on their progress, or my failures.
It wasn’t enough to shelter the seeds beneath the cold frame. Even in “hot-lanta,” this year, January and February temperatures were cold and oft unpredictable; it was also very dreary with little sunlight. Ever ready to trick my plants into thinking it was spring, I laid old Christmas tree lights on the ground and wrapped them around the interior of the cold frame.
The older lights gave off just enough warmth to coax the seedlings from the earth, the light tricked them into believing the sun was shining. I kept the lights burning day and night. (Thanks to my husband -who despises peas- and didn’t complain when the lights glowed at night). Eventually temperatures rose and the sun began to shine more. It was time to remove the cold frame and trellis the pea vines.
Today, April 16, 2013, those same vines are about to bloom. Soon, I’ll enjoy sugar snap peas for dinner. The peas need to hurry up, they are growing an area reserved for tomatoes.
What tricks do you use to grow vegetables? What has worked, what hasn’t?
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com
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