Editor’s Note:Mike will appear March 15 – 17 at the Fredericksburg Home and Garden Show at the Fredericksburg Expo Center with talks at 2 and 4 p.m. on Friday. He’ll speak at 10:30 a.m., 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturday and at noon and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
WASHINGTON – I’m sorry that we all have to lose an hour’s sleep this weekend, or go to bed an hour early, but “springing ahead” also means that the season of growing will soon begin. That means pea planting in the McGrath garden!
Now, whether you grow regular English shelling peas or peas that you eat pod and all, such as snow peas and snap peas, it is essential to get them in the ground early so you can get plenty of pea picking time before summer heat burns up the cool-weather loving crops. They’re called “June peas” because the vines always burn to a crisp by the Fourth of July.
Next Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, is the traditional pea planting day. It’s also supposed to be lucky, but it won’t be if you plant the seeds directly in the soil, which is still too cold to germinate those seeds.
Even the smallest plants don’t mind cold weather, so pre-sprout your seeds indoors for a few days and then plant them outside. That will give you a huge jump on the season, and up to three extra weeks of pea picking time.
It’s easy — just place the seeds inside some moist paper towels and place the towels inside plastic bags, but don’t seal the bags. Just fold them over loosely. Leave them out in the open, like on the kitchen counter, check the seeds daily and plant them in the ground as soon as the little tails poke out. Don’t leave them inside the bags after that, or they’ll get moldy.