Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure: 5 tips for growing peas

Recently I joined a farm tour organized by the Ontario Farm Animal Council. I met the group at Lennox Farm in Dufferin County near Shelburne, Ontario. Bill French, a 5th generation farmer who grows rhubarb and peas, owns it.

Growing 75 to 80 acres of peas a year has given Bill plenty of opportunity to refine his technique. Although my own pea growing efforts are progressing nicely, I wish I’d had the benefit of Bill’s tips earlier in the season. Had I known then what I know now, I would have done quite a few things differently.

Here are Bill’s recco’s for growing peas:
1. Since peas are prone to powdery mildew, plant them in rows that run north and south so that each plant has maximum opportunity for the sun to burn off the dew.
2. Bill also recommends creating raised beds so that rain doesn’t collect around the stems and roots.
3. Fertilize the seedlings with a molasses mixture to raise their brix level. This will make the plants more resistant to disease and the peas will taste sweeter, too.
4. Stagger planting so that you have peas throughout the season. In a farm setting, this means planting a new row every other day for as long as the farmer hopes there are 71 days left in the pea-growing season. In a home garden, you can plant one row and then the next week another and extend your yield time that way.
5. Pick and chill mature peas promptly. On the farm, Bill’s pickers bring peas from the field to the cold storage barn every one and a half hours to preserve the sweet, fresh flavour.

12 Responses to Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure: 5 tips for growing peas

  1. Cheryl says:

    My own novice gardening experience gave me quite a surprise this week. In the spot where I’d planted peas (for the first time, mind you), a beautiful green plant had slowly begun to grow. And grow. And grow. I was so excited when I saw the vegetables begin to form, ever so slowly at first. I took a close look yesterday and realized the budding veggie was actually a green pepper.

    I need to pay more attention at the nursery, apparently.

  2. danamccauley says:

    Ha! That’s hilarious. I hope you like green peppers, Cheryl!

  3. Too funny, Cheryl. I’d have made the same mistake.

    Maybe I’ll give peas a try next year. The family went on a picnic last week and despite a plethora of peppers, cucumber, carrots, mushrooms and cauliflower, only one veggie was gobbled until gone — peas in the shell! Yup. I gotta plant peas next year.

  4. Kitt says:

    Good tips! Every year I resolve to plant more sugar snap peas, because usually the pods never end up any closer to the kitchen than my mouth. This year I finally got a good harvest.

    I don’t think they grow well in midsummer, alas, so that’s it until fall.

  5. Christine says:

    Thanks for the tips. Next year I am definitely going to grow peas. What do you think about doing them in containers? My garden isn’t doing to well this year it has been really hot and humid and my backyard gets so much sun. Going to have to keep trying!

  6. I’ve never heard or growing peas in containers. Martin buys flats of pea seedlings from a foodservice herb nursery to use as a garnish and ingredient at the restaurant and they seem to be quite hearty. There doesn’t really seem to be any reason to think they wouldn’t keep growing and produce peas.

    I’d love to hear how it works for you or for anyone reading who has tried.

  7. Vanilla says:

    Great tips, especially the one about using the molasses! Thanks!
    My snow peas just started to flower yesterday, and I cannot wait to see the pods!

  8. Susie says:

    Would you explain in more detail molasse mixture?

  9. Robin says:

    Dana,

    I just transferred some peas from a smaller pot to a larger one. There is a cute little pea pod on the plant! The kids and I decided to plant them just to see what happens. We planted cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, bell peppers and Kabocha squash. So far they are all thriving in the pots outside. Now we will have to wait and see if we end up with male and female to pollinate some of them!

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