Lifestyle

Enjoy peas through the summer

Peas can be planted thoughout the season to stagger crops. - File Photo / The Leader
Peas can be planted thoughout the season to stagger crops.
— image credit: File Photo / The Leader

We take‭ ‬many‭ ‬things‭ ‬for‭ ‬granted‭ ‬today,‭ ‬often‭ ‬not‭ ‬fully‭ ‬appreciating‭ ‬the‭ ‬amount‭ ‬of‭ ‬research,‭ ‬hard‭ ‬work‭ ‬or‭ ‬even‭ ‬the‭ ‬fascinating‭ ‬history‭ ‬behind‭ ‬some‭ ‬of‭ ‬our‭ ‬garden‭ ‬plants‭.‬

Take‭ ‬the‭ ‬garden‭ ‬pea‭ ‬for‭ ‬example‭. ‬Our‭ ‬parents‭ ‬and‭ ‬grandparents‭ ‬planted‭ ‬them,‭ ‬but‭ ‬their‭ ‬history‭ ‬dates‭ ‬back‭ ‬a‭ ‬bit‭ ‬farther‭ ‬‭ ‬pea‭ ‬seeds‭ ‬were‭ ‬found‭ ‬in‭ ‬an‭ ‬Egyptian‭ ‬tomb‭ ‬at‭ ‬Thebes.

Garden‭ ‬peas,‭ ‬or‭ ‬Pisum‭ ‬sativum,‭ ‬are‭ ‬thought‭ ‬to‭ ‬have‭ ‬originated‭ ‬in‭ ‬the‭ ‬area‭ ‬around‭ ‬Pisa,‭ ‬Italy‭ ‬where‭ ‬they‭ ‬grew‭ ‬wild‭. ‬The‭ ‬Greeks‭ ‬and‭ ‬Romans‭ ‬served‭ ‬boiled‭ ‬peas‭ ‬as‭ ‬a‭ ‬light‭ ‬refreshment‭ ‬during‭ ‬intermissions‭ ‬at‭ ‬their‭ ‬theatre‭ ‬presentations‭. ‬It‭ ‬was‭ ‬a‭ ‬favourite‭ ‬early‭ ‬vegetable‭ ‬among‭ ‬Europeans,‭ ‬and‭ ‬various‭ ‬cultures‭ ‬adapted‭ ‬legends‭ ‬about‭ ‬peas‭.‬

In‭ ‬Britain,‭ ‬a‭ ‬pod‭ ‬containing‭ ‬nine‭ ‬peas‭ ‬was‭ ‬considered‭ ‬lucky‭. ‬Peas‭ ‬were‭ ‬also‭ ‬used‭ ‬as‭ ‬one‭ ‬of‭ ‬the‭ ‬many‭ ‬cures‭ ‬for‭ ‬warts‭. ‬Each‭ ‬wart‭ ‬was‭ ‬supposed‭ ‬to‭ ‬be‭ ‬touched‭ ‬with‭ ‬a‭ ‬pea‭ ‬that‭ ‬was‭ ‬then‭ ‬wrapped‭ ‬in‭ ‬paper‭ ‬and‭ ‬buried‭. ‬As‭ ‬the‭ ‬pea‭ ‬decayed‭ ‬in‭ ‬the‭ ‬ground,‭ ‬the‭ ‬wart‭ ‬was‭ ‬supposed‭ ‬to‭ ‬disappear‭.‬

In‭ ‬the‭ ‬language‭ ‬of‭ ‬flowers,‭ ‬the‭ ‬pea‭ ‬is‭ ‬a‭ ‬symbol‭ ‬of‭ ‬respect,‭ ‬and‭ ‬it’s‭ ‬the‭ ‬birthday‭ ‬flower‭ ‬of‭ ‬Feb.‭ ‬17‭. ‬The‭ ‬garden‭ ‬pea‭ ‬we‭ ‬all‭ ‬know‭ ‬and‭ ‬enjoy‭ ‬today was‭ ‬developed‭ ‬in‭ ‬England‭ ‬and‭ ‬was‭ ‬one‭ ‬of‭ ‬the‭ ‬first‭ ‬crops‭ ‬planted‭ ‬in‭ ‬the‭ ‬New‭ ‬World‭.  ‬

Garden‭ ‬peas‭ ‬are‭ ‬one‭ ‬of‭ ‬the‭ ‬most‭ ‬widely‭ ‬grown‭ ‬and‭ ‬most‭ ‬healthy‭ ‬of‭ ‬all‭ ‬garden‭ ‬vegetables‭. ‬They‭ ‬are‭ ‬rich‭ ‬in‭ ‬nutrients,‭ ‬containing‭ ‬phosphorus,‭ ‬potassium‭ ‬and‭ ‬vitamins‭ ‬A,‭ ‬B‭ ‬and‭ ‬C‭. ‬Peas‭ ‬are‭ ‬high‭ ‬in‭ ‬carbohydrates,‭ ‬but‭ ‬fortunately,‭ ‬low‭ ‬in‭ ‬calories‭.  ‬One‭ ‬cup‭ ‬of‭ ‬peas‭ ‬has‭ ‬only‭ ‬45‭ ‬calories‭. ‬They‭ ‬also‭ ‬contain‭ ‬nutritious‭ ‬amounts‭ ‬of‭ ‬fiber,‭ ‬folic‭ ‬acid,‭ ‬amino‭ ‬acids‭ ‬and‭ ‬protein‭.  ‬

Peas‭ ‬are‭ ‬a‭ ‬cool‭ ‬crop‭ ‬vegetable,‭ ‬and‭ ‬as‭ ‬soon‭ ‬as‭ ‬all‭ ‬danger‭ ‬of‭ ‬heavy‭ ‬frost‭ ‬has‭ ‬passed,‭ ‬they‭ ‬can‭ ‬be‭ ‬planted‭. ‬In‭ ‬Scotland,‭ ‬peas‭ ‬were‭ ‬never‭ ‬sown‭ ‬until‭ ‬the‭ ‬first‭ ‬swallow‭ ‬appeared.

Although‭ ‬many‭ ‬good‭ ‬gardeners‭ ‬plant‭ ‬peas‭ ‬early,‭ ‬you‭ ‬can‭ ‬space‭ ‬the‭ ‬plantings‭ ‬out‭ ‬to‭ ‬enjoy‭ ‬peas‭ ‬right‭ ‬through‭ ‬the‭ ‬summer‭.‬

Peas‭ ‬prefer‭ ‬a‭ ‬well-drained,‭ ‬shallow,‭ ‬sandy‭ ‬soil‭ ‬that‭ ‬both‭ ‬dries‭ ‬out‭ ‬and‭ ‬warms‭ ‬up‭ ‬quickly‭. ‬They‭ ‬also‭ ‬like‭ ‬a‭ ‬new‭ ‬location‭ ‬in‭ ‬the‭ ‬garden‭ ‬each‭ ‬year,‭ ‬if‭ ‬possible‭.  ‬Peas‭ ‬do‭ ‬not‭ ‬thrive‭ ‬in‭ ‬acid‭ ‬soil,‭ ‬and‭ ‬an‭ ‬application‭ ‬of‭ ‬Dolomite‭ ‬lime‭ ‬is‭ ‬essential‭ ‬for‭ ‬both‭ ‬peas‭ ‬and‭ ‬beans‭. ‬Also,‭ ‬avoid‭ ‬using‭ ‬compost‭. ‬Many‭ ‬seed‭ ‬companies‭ ‬are‭ ‬promoting‭ ‬the‭ ‬use‭ ‬of‭ ‬nitrogen‭ ‬inoculants‭ ‬with‭ ‬pea‭ ‬crops‭. ‬These‭ ‬are‭ ‬simply‭ ‬granules‭ ‬of‭ ‬live‭ ‬nitrogen-fixing‭ ‬bacteria‭.  ‬In‭ ‬general,‭ ‬they‭ ‬improve‭ ‬the‭ ‬growth‭ ‬of‭ ‬peas‭ ‬and‭ ‬increase‭ ‬crop‭ ‬yields‭.  ‬

Peas‭ ‬should‭ ‬be‭ ‬planted‭ ‬about‭ ‬two‭ ‬inches‭ ‬deep‭ ‬and‭ ‬about‭ ‬two‭ ‬inches‭ ‬apart‭. ‬For‭ ‬maximum‭ ‬space‭ ‬usage,‭ ‬plant‭ ‬in‭ ‬wide‭ ‬three-foot‭ ‬rows,‭ ‬keeping‭ ‬each‭ ‬row‭ ‬about‭ ‬18‭ ‬inches‭ ‬apart‭.‬

Raised‭ ‬beds‭ ‬are‭ ‬beneficial‭ ‬to‭ ‬many‭ ‬garden‭ ‬vegetables,‭ ‬and‭ ‬peas‭ ‬are‭ ‬no‭ ‬exception‭.‬ Soil‭ ‬levels,‭ ‬raised‭ ‬six‭ ‬to‭ ‬eight‭ ‬inches‭ ‬above‭ ‬ground‭ ‬level‭ ‬will‭ ‬raise‭ ‬the‭ ‬temperature‭ ‬of‭ ‬the‭ ‬soil‭ ‬from‭ ‬eight‭ ‬to‭ ‬13 F‭.‬

Little‭ ‬Marvel‭ ‬is‭ ‬an‭ ‬old‭ ‬dwarf‭ ‬pea‭ ‬that‭ ‬requires‭ ‬very‭ ‬little‭ ‬staking‭. ‬I‭ ‬think,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬that‭ ‬the‭ ‬best‭ ‬dwarf‭ ‬peas‭ ‬are‭ ‬the‭ ‬Sugar‭ ‬Snap‭ ‬varieties‭. ‬Sugar‭ ‬Ann,‭ ‬Honey‭ ‬Pod‭ ‬Dwarf‭ ‬and‭ ‬Sweet‭ ‬Snap‭ ‬are‭ ‬three‭ ‬award-winning‭ ‬varieties,‭ ‬and‭ ‬their‭ ‬flavour‭ ‬is‭ ‬superb‭. ‬The‭ ‬great‭ ‬feature‭ ‬of‭ ‬these‭ ‬peas‭ ‬is‭ ‬the‭ ‬fact‭ ‬that‭ ‬you‭ ‬eat‭ ‬the‭ ‬pod‭ ‬and‭ ‬all,‭ ‬and‭ ‬they‭ ‬never‭ ‬get‭ ‬bitter‭ ‬or‭ ‬old‭ ‬tasting.

Although‭ ‬peas‭ ‬are‭ ‬an‭ ‬early‭ ‬cool‭ ‬crop,‭ ‬this‭ ‬long‭ ‬cold‭ ‬spring‭ ‬has‭ ‬certainly‭ ‬delayed‭ ‬their‭ ‬start‭ ‬in‭ ‬many‭ ‬gardens‭. ‬The‭ ‬good‭ ‬news‭ ‬is‭ ‬they‭ ‬can‭ ‬be‭ ‬planted‭ ‬now‭ ‬and‭ ‬with‭ ‬a‭ ‬bit‭ ‬of‭ ‬better‭ ‬weather‭ ‬they‭ ‬will‭ ‬grow‭ ‬quickly‭ ‬to‭ ‬provide‭ ‬you‭ ‬with‭ ‬their‭ ‬uniquely‭ ‬delicious‭ ‬flavour‭.‬

Brian Minter is a master gardener who writes occasionally for The Leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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