Thursday, December 3, 2009

2009 Overview Peas

I grew three kinds of peas this year. One snow pea, Mammoth Melting and two snap peas, Cascadia and Super Sugar Snap. I'm not a fan of shelling peas because I just don't get enough of a harvest for the effort. I like the others just as well so I stick with them.

Time line:

  • March 26th: planted 2" apart in rows 6" apart
  • April 10th: germination
  • April 24th: gaps reseeded
  • June 14th: snowpeas harvested
  • June 17th: the rest of the pea varieties harvested
  • July 24th: both snap peas pulled
  • August 4th: last snow pea harvest

Cascadia was a really nice and controlled pea plant. Super Sugar Snap was one of those out of control pea plants that grow 6' tall. It turned out Cascadia is a heavier producer than SSS because it produced more over time. SSS was prolific at the start, but petered out faster. I don't have harvest totals for the two separately since many times they got mixed up when picking so they were just recorded under mixed peas and not their variety, but I did get enough separate weighings to tell that Cascadia did better overall. In addition Cascadia was a better tasting pea.

Snap pea harvest total: 6.7 lbs for both varieties. They took up about 6 sqft of growing space and were only in through the end of July, so their production was great. They were out in time to plant fall crops.

Mammoth Melting has nothing to compare it to since it was the only variety of that type I grew. It is a hugely prolific pea. It produced more than either of my other peas - 4lbs in 3 sqft. Often snowpeas are considered less prolific than snap peas, but these are not. They are more prolific. Their growth habit is annoying though. They are tall plants. I think given a better trellis they would get to 8'. Instead they tried taking over their neighbors' spaces and it was a losing battle to keep them in place. Next year I should put them on the edge so I only have to fight the battle on one side. They are probably not the tastiest pea. They aren't as sweet as some. In addition a couple of the vines produced pods with fibrous peas. I tried to remove those vines, but it is hard once they are big and tangled. Luckily I could tell the pods when picking them so they wouldn't get into the pot.

I didn't have any real problems with insect pests this year. I did have some good patches of aphids and some earwigs that were eating them (I'm assuming since they didn't seem to damage the plant). Nothing was out of control. The plants did get powdery mildew as time wore on. This is totally normal and came at the expected time. So there were no problems out of the ordinary.

I tried a new preservation technique - pickling peas. It turned out pretty well. I was missing having pickles and they do make great pickles. I like cucumber pickles a bit better, but these are a great substitute. I didn't freeze any peas this year and I think I would like to try next year.

Next year I will grow Cascadia and might use the rest of the SSS seed, but I really like the taste of Cascadia and its controlled growth habit better. I'm on the fence with Mammoth Melting. I love its production, but its taste isn't top notch. I also wonder if I should try a yellow podded pea since my biggest issue is trying to find the pods before they get too big. Pea pods have a nasty habit of hiding. I don't know how the MM pods can hide so well since they are huge, but they do. If I could find a three foot yellow podded snowpea that tasted good and was prolific, I'd be in heaven. Then I could just make a 3' trellis instead of a 6' trellis.

Also next year I'd like to grow my fall peas again. Not a huge amount, but maybe one three foot section would be enough for peas for stirfries.


  1. I love fresh tender ones in stir fry.

  2. I love Cascadia sugar snap peas and have not grown any other sugar snap peas for several years now. They are reliable producer, tidy grower, and the taste is superior.

    Thanks for the pea overview!

  3. When I see snow peas mentioned, I always remember lunch at the Chinese restaurant, where Harriet, a bit impoverish before payday, said she'd just have a bowl of snow peas. Surprise, Harriet! A bowl of peas cost more than she would have paid for the special of the day.

  4. Pickled peas? Now, that's different! I like your new photo for an avatar.

  5. mothernaturesgarden, me too

    kitsapFG, I may only grow those for snap peas next year. I'm still on the lookout for a better snow pea though.

    Nell Jean, lol yup. I know how she feels. At one Chinese restaurant my husband wanted a dish that didn't come with any vegetables. We always only split one dish. So I asked for a side of steamed broccoli. I got a huge plate that cost the same as the dish. Live and learn. Chinese restaurants don't have sides they only have full dishes.

    EG, thanks. I figured since my hair was longer I ought to pick a new photo. Though that was taken on a trip (I'm standing in front of a waterfall in NH) it seemed appropriate since I always wear that hat when I garden. I love my hat. It is wide enough to keep me out of the sun, but it can be scrunched up and packed.

  6. Thanks for the overview. Are the Cascadia stringless? I planted Sugar Daddy this year for the stringless part, but they weren't nearly as big a producer.

  7. The Mom, well strangely enough I'm not sure. If you look closely at the top photo you will notice that I pick peas and don't leave the top part on. I pick them and string them all at the same time if they need it or not. The strings get left on the plant if they exist. I think they might. It is such an ingrained habit now that I don't even think about it.

  8. Have you ever tried the bush peas, Daphne? I tried them this year and had really disappointing results, but I wonder if it was just a bad year. I may have to try those Mammoth Meltings. Love the idea to pickle them!

  9. Have you tried yellow pod peas? They are supposed to be a bit more heat resistant and had a long harvest time from a spring planting this year with moderate prolificness. However, they are also a tall pea. I like to grow my peas up tall trellis like beans to get more harvest so I'm a fan.

    As for shelling peas, my kids eat all of those and don't seem to mind removing these sweet things from their wrappers. They even try shelling pod peas.

    This ends up with me getting very few peas.

  10. A lot of good inforamtion here. I never thought about pickling peas. I mostly just grow sugar snaps and they get eaten raw while I'm gardening, or in the dinner salad. Always delicious.
    Did you see that I have a GiveAway over at The Commonweeder? Check it out. Christmas is coming.

  11. JGH, I prefer taller peas because they tend to be more productive. I was surprised that the lower growing Cascadia could out produce the tall SSS

    Ottawa Gardener, no I haven't tried them yet. My daughter loves the shelling peas too. I've grown them occasionally for her, but never for me.

    Commonweeder, I eat a few of my peas out in the garden, but not a lot.

  12. You probably don't want to try the Green Beauty snow peas that I tried this year. The plants were huge, full and tall, They easily topped the 5 foot trellis that I gave them. The pods were huge also, but I never got a fibrous one. I thought they tasted quite good.

    The Golden Sweets I tried were much daintier plants. They grew to the top of the trellis but were never huge and bushy. The pods are small and I thought the flavor was good. They also resisted powdery mildew longer than the Green Beautys.

  13. Thanks for including all your pea experience details. This is the kind of blog posts I like best--the ones with specific information about personal experiences--something more than one can get from the back of the seed packet.

    My husband doesn't like snow peas or snap peas so last year I grew English (shelling) peas 'Green Arrow'. They tasted great and this year I'm trying three different varieties. Last year our harvest was barely enough to eat immediately after picking (because we got very hot weather in February) so we haven't had to come up with storage ideas. I like your pea pickles, though. I don't think I'd have thought of that.

  14. Hi Daphne,
    I'm currently overrun with snow peas, the variety is Goliath and they are brilliant, I have frozen so many either by themselves or in little mixed bags with my broad beans and brocolli but my freezer is full. Could you possibly give the recipe for your pickled peas, they look lovely and would make great use of my excess.
    Thanks for all the info.

  15. Michelle, yeah I'm really looking for either a slightly shorter snowpea or a yellow one. I might look for a yellow one through SSE. I like the snap peas I have. I can't ask for more from a snap pea than I got from Cascadia.

    mss, sometimes the back of the seed packets all sound alike don't they?

    Lauren, first let me say that as long as you keep your vinegar/water ratio at least 1:1 and add one T of salt for each pint you make, you can change it. Pickled veggies need at least a 1:1 ratio with vinegar or they won't keep. I use 1c vinegar, 3/4c water, T salt, 3T sugar (I like sweet, but not necessary if you don't like sweet pickles), one or two hot peppers (again I like spicy but you don't have to add them), some onion slices, a clove or two of garlic, and a mix of pickling spices. BTW I make my own pickling spices and just throw lots of things in, but you can use bought. Peas don't need soaking like cukes so are faster to make. Boil the first four ingredients together and put the rest in the jars and pour in the boiling liquid. 15mins in a boiling water bath. BTW I cut both ends off the snap peas and stir it up a bit so the liquid can get inside.

  16. Good to hear the feedback on the Cascadia, I am receiving them in a trade this year. I agree that shelling peas take alot of space for their yield but I will always have to find a spot for them too.

  17. I grew Mammoth Melting snow peas back in CT, and can't find them in southern California. Where did you find the seeds? I'm about to plant some Super Sugar Snap, a new variety for me. --Lou

  18. Dan, I hate shelling them too. Weirdly I didn't mind shelling the beans, but then I didn't have to do it right before dinner I could put the bowl next to my chair in the family room and do it while I watched TV.

    Lou, I got them from a seed rack two years ago. If you do a web search you will find a ton of companies that sell it. It is an old heirloom.