Friday, February 13, 2009

snap pea 101

This is it Antlers, Sunday is the big day. We're planting those peas. Now, if you're new to the blog and have no idea what I am talking about, I assure you there is a method to this madness. A few weeks ago I announced the CAF Snap Pea Challenge. You can click that link and see all the people (over 80!) that signed up across North America to plant seeds together on the 15th. Hopefully all you participants already got your seeds, plant bulb, potting soil, and a pot ready and waiting. If you're feelin' really motivated there are SPC shirts for sale in the farm store, and buying them gives a small donation to the farm here in Vermont.

How to Pea

Step 1: Dirt

All you're going to do is fill your container (which should have holes in the bottom for drainage. This is important. Let's not drown our viney brethren) with dirt. Hopefully you bought some decent container gardening soil, but really, any bag of dirt marked "potting" will do. The reason for this is bagged potting soil assumes you're planting your seeds in, well, a pot. Since your peas will be indoors that little bag of potting soil is prepared to give your plant some things other bagged garden soils may not have. Think of it as vitamins for the indoor kids. I grabbed a small bag of Miracle Grow's Organic potting soil for around 5 bucks, and I'll be filling a small flower pot Saturday night in preparation. I'll probably also add a little something something to the dirt. I'll crush an eggshell and about an 1/8 cup of old coffee grounds that are already dried out and mix them in with the 4 -5 cups of dirt I'll be using. This is to add a little calcium and grit to the dirt, and help things drain a little better. It also makes me feel like I'm doing something fancy, which I enjoy very much.

Step 2: Plant & Placement
Some of you may want to soak your pea seeds in water the night before, which is fine but not necessary. It's your call. Plant your peas shallow. Cover them with just enough dirt that a mighty wind won't reveal them, about a 1/2 inch tops. Pour on a little water, but don't drech them. Now, set them in a place that gets some natural sunlight. Peas are cold weather crops, the earliest of the garden. You don't need them baking in a window, but hiding them out of direct sunlight isn't the best idea. If you don't have a choice, this is where our light bulbs come in. I bought a 60 watt grow bulb, and have replaced the lamp above the kitchen table with it. Grow bulbs are great, and fun top start seeds with but you can't treat them like X-ray machines. Don't hover a desk lamp a foot above the pot. You will certainly get seeds sprouting fast, but they'll turn into spindly worthless things. You want fat happy stems, and it's better to wait a few more days then bake a quick growth that won't be able to take your indoor environment. I suggest having a nearby lamp's bulb replaced. Between that and your window, you should be set.

Now, the big point I want to make is location. Where you plant your sugar snaps is important because these suckers are going to climb. That picture right there was taken after just a few weeks, maybe two? Point being your peas can't sit in the center of the kitchen table unless you are willing to make some sort of jungle gym for it to climb up. Also, be mindful of what's around. If you have a collection of Victorian glass animals above your windowsill - move them. The vines will crawl up and take over in a very cool way, winding their little tentacles on your stuff. I like this, but I also keep my antiques away from it. (You can't really dust something held in place by nature.) Regardless, I like having food holding onto my shutters and winding around bookcases. But just make sure the place you're putting your peas can climb. Sugar snaps are the athletes of your indoor garden.

Step 3: Research, Share, Comment, Repeat
So I urge you guys to page through some pea-reading. I found this at, and found it helpful. There is endless information online, magazines at your bookstore, and books at the library to help you out. If anyone reading this has a helpful comment or tip, please, let us know. Also, comment and let us know where you're peas are going? Maybe really good hanging basket ideas or furniture planning has been figured out by you fine people? I want to hear it all. Also, make sure to take a picture of your just-planted peas. We'll all take a photo every Sunday. It'll be fun to see how crazy things get by April.

Guys, this is going to be fun. If you give it an honest try and follow these basic guidelines we should be set. Make sure to keep your soil damp, but not wet. Don't water your peas for the sake of watering them and you'll be fine. With some patience, moderation, and good faith we'll all be smiling at white blossoms in a few weeks. Some of us with our fiddles and banjos by our sides. We've got it good kids. We really do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

almost pea'd my pants when i read that how to pea title! ready to go,ready to grow.gonna try a led light as a grow light just to see how that works out.thanks for being such an inspiration on so many levels! i've started baking bread again and would love to try and play the banjo someday. picked up some of the books that you recommended in your book.lots of reading for the winter.thanks again!

February 14, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Kelli said...

I forgot to sign up before but count me in....I picked up a pack of seeds yesterday at Safeway just for the challenge. Just what I need to get things kicked off here in beautiful North Idaho.

February 14, 2009 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

I am going to try my first snap pea plant, ever! Both my mom who found this blog and forwarded to me as well as mailed me my snap pea seeds because I mistakenly picked up sweet peas)and I are going to try this experiment out. I am soaking my baby seeds overnight, and the soil is all ready for them tomorrow (I am very proud of my preparedness).. My apartment will be getting sun all day long, very nice for me but hopefully it doesn't fry the peas!

February 14, 2009 at 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My peas didn't come in the mail yet. :(

I got a cheesemaking kit for Valentine's Day (thanks husband!) and I just made my first mozz! It was so fun and easy. And tasty. Dang. You guys should try it!!

February 14, 2009 at 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peas are priming in a little water and are raring to go tomorrow.
I got overexcited by the prospect of sowing today and had to rummage for other seeds (which are probably totally inappropriate to plant right now, but hey ho). It'll make for more interesting photos - spot the pea!

February 14, 2009 at 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pea seeds: check
potting soil: check
milk jug potting container: check
grow light: check

systems are ready and go

-Mountain Chicken

February 14, 2009 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

My soil is ready and I'm set to plant tomorrow. Since finding this blog a few weeks ago, I've started some herbs indoors. We'll see what happens. Looking forward to the results!!

February 14, 2009 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Since I have to plant mine outside in the garden, I spent yesterday building a trellis. Hopefully they'll survive our Texas heat.

February 15, 2009 at 9:11 AM  
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