Soil and Cellar

Growing and preserving foods in Seattle

The Mighty Pea

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Pea plant in early April

Pea plant in early April

Peas are one of the most wondrous plants to me. They’re so simple, but they pack a wallop of flavor. And they carry the weight of the world on their little pea shoulders. There’s a beautiful symmetry in growing peas. You put a pea in the ground, and you harvest many peas a few months later. All that is added to that little pea – nutrients, water, and eventually sunlight – produces a huge plant AND multiples of itself. There’s just something about the mirror image – pea in, peas out, really hits home for me. Which is part of what I love about gardening. You never know when the earth will hand you a revelation, or even just a reminder of the depth and complexity at work all around us.

I planted pea starts this year. I know, it’s more expensive and less likely to succeed than seeds, but I got excited by them at the nursery. Plus, prepping the earth as early as February just wasn’t going to happen this year. But it’s been probably 3 years since I grew peas, so I’m excited! I didn’t do any soil prep other than weeding, so fingers crossed.

I added compost around the base to help keep moisture in the soil and hopefully add a few nutrients.They’ve been in the ground about 10 days, and they have really grown! They are over a foot tall and are twining nicely on on each other and on the extra twine I put on the trellis.

There are a few that look like they won’t make it. See photo for an example of what I mean.

Withering stem of pea plant

Withering stem of pea plant

See how at the base it’s brown and thin? I’m not sure if it’s a root fungus or something introduced in a wound in the stem. There are only a couple that look like this, which makes me think it was a combo of damage during transplant (they were quite a tangle) and a pathogen – like an infection in a wound. I assume the plants will die, but I want to observe for a bit. If it looks like its spreading to others, I’ll pull them.

Should my harvest come through, here are my ideas of how to use the peas:

  • snacks (because let’s be honest, most of them won’t ever see the inside of my kitchen)
  • spring vegetable risotto (with asparagus, chard, or any tasty greens)
  • pesto pea salad (previously made with delicious but complicated fava beans)
  • green salads, and maybe even a soup? Recipes and ideas welcome.

I probably won’t preserve any this year. Normally peas are preserved by drying, or you can freeze or can them. I don’t think I’ll have a large harvest all at once, so snacks it is!

One thought on “The Mighty Pea

  1. Pingback: Peas: Where are they now? | Soil and Cellar

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