#6 of 31 Ways to Eat Healthier in the New Year

Number 6 is a personal favorite because each Spring they are the first things we plant in our organic, backyard edible garden. Yes, peas are a sure sign of Spring and a wonderful way to kick off another edible gardening season.

The whole family enjoys getting into the garden to take part in pea planting. It just feels like the right thing to do and is proof of the internal, seasonal clocks we all have inside of us.  We favor Sugar Snap Peas because of the delicious, tender edible pods. However, this year we have vowed to dedicate some garden space to shelling peas too.

Peas can be planted as early as 1 month prior to your “frost-free” date. In many parts of the United States it is traditional to plant peas by St. Patrick’s Day. We have found early planting to be critical as it helps ensure a full harvest prior to the hot weather. Hot weather signals the peas to stop production and basically die. As a result, if you plant too late you may get a small crop.

Furthermore, in our experience, the seed packets are not always accurate when it comes to plant maturity and harvest estimates. In 2013 we had a super slow start caused by unseasonably cold Spring weather. Consequently, we had very few peas until June. Then the hot weather set in and shut down pea production. We had peas, but not in the abundance we had come to expect from previous seasons.

Peas are really easy to grow and some varieties take up very little space. We have also found peas to be relatively free of pests and plant disease. They are also easy to care for. We give them a little compost, keep them watered, and watch them grow. What a gardening confidence builder!

Finally, peas are known as “nitrogen-fixing” plants. Basically this means they add an important nutrient to your soil for future plants to enjoy. Many gardeners and seed companies recommend using an inoculant on pea seeds just before planting them. This is reported to help the nitrogen-fixing process.

It is still a few months away, but you can always day dream about picking your peas. The kids will love frolicking around and searching for the largest pods. When you do have peas to pick be sure to pick them often. The more you pick the more will grow. Thanks to Mother Nature for that!


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