Have you Planted Your Peas Yet?

There are some people I have talked to who insist that St. Patrick’s Day is the day to plant peas. No matter the weather, the condition of the soil, or the condition of the gardener. You get them in on March 17! I will admit to being a bit less fanatic in my pea-planting views. You see, I have also read that if you stick those peas in the ground when the soil is still very cold, it can take them up to a month to germinate and grow! On the other hand, if you just wait a bit longer—say—early April, when the soil has warmed up a bit, they will germinate within 10-14 days. So the later planting tends to catch up to the earlier anyway.

I am hoping that is truly the case, because my garden is not ready for any type of planting just yet! I failed to get a soil test done last year, and I paid the price for my impatience! Soil fertility was very patchy last year. Even though we tilled in a goodly amount of composted steer manure, some things did great (sweetmeat squash, tomatoes) and others didn’t do well at all (beans, cucumbers.)

Garden takeover by the sweetmeat squash. That’s my oldest there in the middle of the jungle.

Garden takeover by the sweetmeat squash. That’s my oldest there in the middle of the jungle.

So this year I knew that I had to get a soil test. At the very least I need a baseline to go from in my soil amending.

It just so happens that I dug all my somewhat-evenly-spaced holes all over the garden, as directed, took a slice out of the side of the hole, and put only the middle section of each slice in a bucket, and stirred. As directed. After all that, they really only want 2 cups worth of soil. I sure hope I stirred it up well enough to get a decent reading on what’s going on! Also, I hope no-one falls into one of my holes in the garden before I get them filled back in. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Got it sent off. Done! Check it off!

Then I realized—it’s March 17 tomorrow. I’m behind schedule! My sweet peas are getting leggy (I’ve already pinched them once) under the lights, and it is really time to get this show on the road! Except now I’m waiting for soil test results, and then I will order the amendments, and buy the supports, and you know—do a lot of shoveling and tilling and such. THEN I can get my “plant in early spring” stuff put in.

Can you see why I went ahead with the poppies last week? I’m probably a good 2 weeks out as it is with all this other stuff. I will still sow seeds that won’t go into the garden proper, while I’m waiting. I want dill along the fence, between the peonies, and chamomile around the base of one of my peach trees. Yes, there will be plenty to do between now and then. Here’s hoping my sweet peas survive inside that long!

By the way, you do know what I’m talking about when I say “sweet peas,” right? The flower, not the sugar snap edible peas. Please don’t ever eat any part of the sweet pea vine—it’s a bit toxic, so I’ve heard. Even though they’re not the same thing, they seem to like the same kind of weather—cool to cold.

What about you? Are you a die-hard March 17 pea planter, or do you wait until a few more weeks?

This fine patch of peas grew in my Washington garden. These are the edible kind, in case you hadn’t figured that one out already!

This fine patch of peas grew in my Washington garden. These are the edible kind, in case you hadn’t figured that one out already!