By Ronnie Dauber, Garden Guides Contributor
This garden vegetable is an annual that grows with little maintenance in the garden and does extremely well in organic soil. They grow well even in crowded areas and require little maintenance. The fruits of the plant are the peas, which can be eaten raw, but both the peas and the pod are delicious when cooked and sautéed with butter.
Peas are extremely weather tolerant and the seeds can be planted in the spring while frost is still in the ground. The seeds will germinate in a wide range of soil temperatures, from 40 to 75 degrees F, as long as the soil is moist and well drained and there is a moderate exposure to full sunlight.
Peas are natural climbers and can add beauty to a fence in the spring when the colored blossoms appear. They grow well with other vegetables including celery, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, early potato, radish, spinach, peppers and turnips.
Choosing a Variety
There are many varieties of peas that feature a slight variance in the taste, the size of the pods and the yield for each plant. * The Dual Pea produces long pods with 10 to 14 medium sized peas and matures in about 64 days. The Dakota Pea is a very early dwarf-type producing double pods of about 5 to 6 peas each and with a constant outstanding yield. Excellent in soups. The Knight Pea matures in about 58 days with very tasty peas and is ideal as the tasty vegetable with any main dish. The Frosty Pea produces double pods about 3 1/2 inches long with a constant harvest of suburb quality peas, maturing in 67 days. This pea is ideal for freezing. The Galena Pea yields long, bright green pods on 30 inch tall plants that are well filled with peas and can be preserved or marketed.
Pea plants prefer cool growing conditions and can be planted into the garden right after the last frost passes. Sow the seed 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in double rows spaced 3 to 6 inches apart, 24 inches between the next double row. They grow best when they are able to climb rather than being subjected to root rot on the ground. They thrive in sunny to partially shaded areas and in well-drained, rich and sandy soil.
The plants should be covered in mulch to preserve the moisture and to keep the weeds down.
Harvesting and Storage
The best tasting peas are harvested when the pods are young and tender. They should be picked regularly to promote continued production once the plant has reached maturity. Peas in their pods can be blanched and frozen for up to 6 months.