1 There are many different varieties of peas, but all fall under one of two categories: shelling peas or edible pods. Shelling peas are those that need to be removed from their pods before eating. Edible pods are those that can be eaten whole, like snap peas and snow peas.
2 Many of our pea seeds are from Johnny's Selected Seeds. 'Maxigolt' is an outstanding late variety with large, very sweet, dark green peas and attractive, broad, three-and-a-half inch pods. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
3 'Penelope' has extra long fancy pods, with eight to nine peas per pod. They are very easy to shell and have very good eating quality.
4 'Sienna' peas are very flavorful for a mid-season variety. The pods are about three-and-a-half inches long and provide about seven to eight peas per pod. Do you know... one serving of freshly frozen peas has more vitamin-C than two large apples?
5 'Douce Provence' is a very sweet, succulent variety, which is extremely versatile. Consistent and reliable as a grower, it produces large crops on compact plants. These are from Vilmorin, France's leading garden seed company founded in 1742 by seed expert Claude Geoffroy.
6 'Feisty' peas are very sweet, and medium sized. They generally average about six to eight peas per pod. The 30-inch vines produce many tendrils, but few leaves, which makes harvesting a bit easier.
7 'Green Arrow' peas from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange are ultra sweet. The plant is very strong and tolerates certain diseases, such as powdery mildew. http://www.southernexposure.com
8 'Television' is a lovely sweet garden pea - good for podding and eating fresh.
9 The 'Super Sugar Snap' is delicious raw, steamed or stir-fried. The plant produces thick, full sized ever-so-sweet snaps.
10 'Sugar Sprint' is a variety that is almost stringless. These peas are one of the earliest maturing types of peas that is also ideal for eating fresh or frozen.
11 'Sugar Ann Og' is an early, edible pod pea that's ideal for small gardens. Its short, bushy vines do not need support, and it produces about 10-days earlier than other snap peas.
12 'Amish' snap peas from the Seed Savers Exchange are delicate and sweet. They were grown in the Amish community long before present snap pea varieties were developed. They have curved sickle-shaped pods. http://www.seedsavers.org
13 'Avalanche' peas are tender, sweet, six-inch edible pods that add rich flavor and depth to salads and stir fries. The vigorous, 30-inch, semi-leafless plants produce lots of tasty pods.
14 'Royal Snow' snow peas have large pods, and a mild bitter flavor. They're a great addition to salads and slaws. Their color stays purple, but turns muddy when overcooked.
15 This 'Golden Sweet' variety produces flat pods that are a beautiful, bright lemon-yellow - great in stir-fries. The tall six-inch vines have interesting purple flowers.
16 Snow, snap, and shelling peas are all members of the legume family. Snow peas are also known as Chinese pea pods. They are flat with very small peas inside, and the whole pod is edible. Snap peas are a cross between snow peas and shelling peas - the whole pod is eaten and has a crunchy texture and very sweet flavor.
17 Shelling peas are also sometimes called garden peas, sweet peas or English peas. The pods are firm and rounded, and the round peas inside need to be removed, or shelled, before eating. The peas are sweet and may be eaten raw or cooked.
18 Some pea (Pisum sativum) seeds will look wrinkled. Most of them have hard coats, and all benefit from soaking before planting.
19 The first step after receiving pea seeds is to soak them overnight in warm water. This will expedite the germination process.
20 Ryan places each pea variety in its own plastic quart container and fills it half full with water, so they are well covered.
21 Only soak seeds for about eight to 12-hours and no more than 24-hours. Over-soaking them could cause them to decompose.
22 While the seeds soaked, Ryan took the new "Tillie" articulating electric tiller - a gift from Johnny's Selected Seeds - down to the vegetable garden to prepare the bed for planting. http://goo.gl/BGpZbf
23 This tiller is a great tool for small scale farming. A powerful hub motor drives the device, which can be used not just to till, but to cultivate pathways, hill crops, and raised beds. It is battery powered with no fumes or loud noises.
24 Ryan guides the 'Tillie' along the newly built pea trellis, tilling the soil on both sides as close to the trellis as possible, several inches deep.
25 Tilling aerates the soil, chops and kills any weeds, and breaks it up into finer elements for planting. The soil is much more manageable after it is tilled.
26 The un-tilled soil is hard and compacted. It would be more difficult to plant the pea seeds in untilled soil.
27 Here is the new pea trellis with tilled soil - all ready for planting our peas.
28 The next morning, Ryan removes the seeds from the water. Here he compares the soaked seeds on the left to the unsoaked seeds on the right.
29 When removing the peas, discard any that have floated to the top of the water - these are not viable and shouldn't be planted.
30 Using a strainer, thoroughly drain them and also remove any broken seeds or seed fragments.
31 The pea is among the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. Peas were found in excavations in Switzerland dating back to the Bronze Age. Peas were also very popular foods with the ancient Greeks and Romans.
32 Peas are known to help fix the nitrogen content in the soil, but need an inoculant added to their soil to do this. Rhizobium leguminosarum is a nitrogen fixing bacteria that is often added to soils where peas and lima beans are planted.
33 Garden inoculants are available at most garden supply stores. Simply sprinkle a little inoculant powder onto the drained peas.
34 It is not possible to over inoculate, so don't worry about how much is added to the peas.
35 Once inoculant has been added, toss the peas to make sure they are all well coated. The inoculant will boost the pea plants.
36 When ready to plant, first dig a furrow in the soil using a hoe. This is an American hoe.
37 Garden hoes can come in various sizes and styles. For making seed furrows, both an American hoe, and a pointed hoe, such as this one, work just fine.
38 Peas do much better when given some kind of support such as a fence or a trellis. Since the furrow is up against the trellis, the pea vines should find the supportive netting very easily.
39 Drop the seeds into the furrow about one and a half to two-inches apart.
40 Sow seeds four to six weeks before the last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45-degrees Fahrenheit.
41 Place a marker to identify what seeds were planted in what location.
42 Another method to plant peas is to use a dibber. A dibber, or dibble, is a pointed wooden stick for making holes in the ground. This works best for small gardens and for when fewer seeds are planted. Push the dibber down about two-inches and drop the pea seed. Be sure the holes are also a couple inches apart.
43 Once all the seeds are in the ground, cover them with an inch-and-a-half of soil. Ryan uses a shrub rake to also tamp the seeds gently, so there is good contact between the soil and the seeds - it looks great, Ryan.
44 Ryan clearly marks which pea varieties are shelling, snap and snow, so they are easily identifiable when it's time to harvest.
45 To determine when to pick shelling peas, examine the pods. If they feel round and have a bright green sheen, they're ready. For snap peas, they're tastiest when the pods still have some room around the peas when you squeeze the pods. Pick snow peas before the peas start to enlarge in the pods.
46 Water deeply once a week, and never allow the soil to dry out. This stresses the plants and drastically reduces pea production. The peas should be ready for harvesting around mid-June to early July.