More Pacific Grove--Pelargonium cordatum?
Class on Mediterranean Food Gardening

Love those snap peas!

0299697r01012 The snap peas are in full production in the College garden now. These have to be one of the best crops for a home garden. They are immensely productive and so wonderful for eating out of hand that I doubt many of them get even as far as a salad. These are one of two pea types that have edible pods, the other being snow or sugar peas. But while you eat snow pea pods while they are still flat, before the peas form, you let snap peas fill out. You pick the nice fat pods and crunch them down peas and all. In fact, they are best when the peas are fully formed, since they are sweeter than the pods.                  

We planted seeds for these peas in late February, which should have been an OK time to plant them, but we didn't get very good germination. We replanted in mid April, filling in around the ones that came up. The first planting began to bear at the end of May, the second by mid-June, and both are going strong now.

Another good time to plant peas, and maybe safer inland, is in the fall. We can plant them as late as November here near the coast, and again in spring, since our weather stays cool most of the summer. If peas are growing in hot weather for too long, they decline and often get the fungus disease powdery mildew.

Besides eating snap peas on the spot, I like to chop the pods into 2 or 3 pieces and put them in a salad. They can also be used for dips.

The beauty of snap peas is that they increase the amount of food you can harvest from each pea plant. When you grow shell peas, a plant averages about 1/8 pound of peas. With snap peas, assuming you let the peas get big, you get them plus all the weight of the thick pod. So you get at least twice the weight of harvestable food from each plant, maybe more.

We grew bush peas, which reach about 24 inches tall. They don't absolutely need a trellis, but it is a good idea to run poles and string down the bed beside each row, or at least push branchy twigs into the ground all over the bed. These "pea sticks" need to be 3 or 4 feet long, so there is a foot or so to push into the ground and more than 24 inches above ground. (One of the best parts of gardening is finding uses for sticks and stones and other natural materials. Pea sticks do look a bit wild, but do the job very well.)


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I read your article in the SF Chronicle yesterday about epi's, and your suggestion that people go to the epi society meetings or look for them at plant sales at botanical gardens. Now, no doubt, they'd find a wide range of specimens at great prices, but epi's are also available in the Bay Area every day, not just at seasonal sales and occasional meetings. I'm surprised you didn't suggest they can often be found at their local nurseries throughout the Bay Area. Of course, we carry a decent selection of rooted epi's (we grow all our own cactus and succulents right here in the East Bay) at our store, Cactus Jungle, but so do many other local nurseries. Is there a reason you would prefer not to recommend local stores to your readers?
One of your fans,
Peter Lipson
Cactus Jungle

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