Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Starting Snap Pea Seeds

The Snap Pea Challenge has begun! Folks all over the world are getting out their potting soil and containers and fighting against the weather reports with some serious green sprouts. I'm thrilled to have so many of you participating, be it in your southern state backyards or in your New England window planters. I wanted to just give a simple How To for folks who are new to prepping and starting seeds, and that is what the following few paragraphs will be. I ask that any growers out there with more to add please do so in the comments. Also, anyone with references for beginner gardeners (websites, books, etc) please list those in the comments as well. Okay, you ready? GOOD, LET'S PLANT SOME FOOD!

First things first: supplies

You are going to need snap pea (or any pea) seeds.
A bowl of water
Desk Lamp and grow bulb Container to grow in with drainage holes in the bottom
Decent compost or potting soil
Friend with worms*


*Bonus Points!

Step 1:
Take your seeds out of that packet and soak them overnight in a bowl of water if you want to give them a faster start. Soaking overnight gives them a jump start on germination, a good long soak to wake up from the state of being so very stagnant and asleep. This isn't necessary and do not worry if you just popped them in the ground or pot already. It simply helps. Try it with some seeds tonight and see if they beat the ones you already planted? It's Science!

Step 2:
Your container or seed starter doesn't need to be complicated. It can be a yogurt container you punched holes in the bottom of, or it could be a pre-built and molded mini-greenhouse with the peat pots inside it. It doesn't really matter what the container is, what matters is that there is a way for excess water to drain. Place your soil into your container. We need to talk about this for a second though. Do not go into your back yard and dig up some dirt and press it into a pot like you're a toddler making a sand castle from a bucket. Compression is not your friend. Good earth for growing needs to be like a slice of chocolate cake. Moist, pliant, and spongey. You wouldn't want a "hard-packed" dense slice of cake nor would you want it to crumble in your hands like chalk. What you want is good cake. So if the potting soil you bought is a little dry, add some moist compost to it. If you don't have compost add a little water to it so it is a little damp (but not wet). If the soil feels to compact take some newspaper and rip or cut it into slivers and strips and add them to the damp soil to create a sort of airy break up in the pot. To make this happen, just take a bowl and add dirt, strips of newsprint, and play with your hands like you are a kid mixing dough. It's okay to have fun with this.

Step 3:
Take your soaked seeds (or your packaged seeds) and get two or three tops out of the packet. Use a finger to poke about as deep as your knuckle and set a seed right in there, cover with loose soil and do not pat it down.

Step 4:
Place in a bright place OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT. I know you think it needs to be in a window but that will just create spindly, weak seedlings. What you need right now is a place in a room that gets sunlight but not death rays. This is especially true if you are using those mini greenhouses at the hardware store. I love those things, but keep in mind you will need to transfer your seedlings in a week or two to a larger container.

Step 5:
Enjoy the wait for that blessed sprout!

*If you have a friend with red wrigglers, the famed and beloved compost worms. Ask if you can have some vermicompost. You CAN'T use too much! It will be such an amazing, organic, and natural kick start to your seedings! If they are really good friends they might help you start some worm bins of your own!

8 Comments:

Blogger Bitha said...

So happy seeds are in there pots ready to be peas.

March 11, 2014 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger lemontreelane said...

Done... Now waiting..

March 11, 2014 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

Excited to get my seeds in to soak tonight, I found 3 varieties of organic snap peas - 'Super Sugar Snap' 'Oregon Sugar Pod II' & 'Cascadia bush snap pea' looking forward to watching them grow and see how the different varieties do. Also great to be raiding the wormery months earlier than usual for the wonderful compost.

It did feel like spring today here in Town of Wales, NY, - a balmy 44 degrees, most of the snow melted. Tomorrow into Thursday we are under a blizzard watch with 18 inches of snow, and temps around 16 predicted. Very glad Weds is my day off, and I shall be staying indoors by my woodstove, planting my peas, working on some knitting and spinning projects while the snow falls.

March 11, 2014 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger cacapon_mom said...

You may already know this, but it is the heat from the sun, not the light, that germinates the seed. After the seed sprouts then it needs the sun for the photosynthesis process. I learned this interesting factoid in a fun way from a gardening class where we took a soybean seed and a wet cotton ball and put them in a small plastic bag (like you would get beads in) that we wore as a necklace under our shirts. Sure enough, in a couple days they sprouted from the heat from our bodies, not by light.

March 13, 2014 at 4:00 AM  
Blogger cacapon_mom said...

You may already know this, but it is the heat from the sun, not the light, that germinates the seed. After the seed sprouts then it needs the sun for the photosynthesis process. I learned this interesting factoid in a fun way from a gardening class where we took a soybean seed and a wet cotton ball and put them in a small plastic bag (like you would get beads in) that we wore as a necklace under our shirts. Sure enough, in a couple days they sprouted from the heat from our bodies, not by light.

March 13, 2014 at 4:00 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

freezing up my bum of year in western Pennsylvania and thinking of peas. I am going to be late of the block for this one, but it will be like my first 5k, I will be happy just to finish. A few questions: do you really need the desk lamp? And do I need to buy a grow bulb for it? do you leave it on all the time, or turn it off at night? I will be container gardening and the one tiny patch of partial Sun that comes on the south side of my house. This should be fun.

March 13, 2014 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

freezing up my bum of year in western Pennsylvania and thinking of peas. I am going to be late of the block for this one, but it will be like my first 5k, I will be happy just to finish. A few questions: do you really need the desk lamp? And do I need to buy a grow bulb for it? do you leave it on all the time, or turn it off at night? I will be container gardening and the one tiny patch of partial Sun that comes on the south side of my house. This should be fun.

March 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Tanya T said...

My peas have sprouted!

March 20, 2014 at 3:48 PM  

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