Last year, they didn’t grow. They were the first thing we put in the ground, and our first crop failure. Because of a bizarre combination of rain, a hard frost, and then more rain, they rotted, and when we reseeded them, they refused to grow. Too hot, too dry, who knows exactly why? I got over it. Last season was fantastic. But I love peas. I missed them. I spent a lot of time this winter putting together a sure-fire plan to get them to grow this season.
So, when beautiful green rows of them popped up yesterday, I was ecstatic. They are still very small plants and it’ll be two months before we harvest any peas, so I suppose it’s not a guarantee. But these sprouts look pretty healthy. They don’t look like they are going anywhere. Last year, the few peas that came up were few and far between. Not so this year. They all seem to have sprouted at once, neat, pale green, perfect rows of them. And just below the soil, more are coming.
We did a lot of things differently this year. First, we soaked the peas in water for 48 hours. Soaking them plumps them up, gets their juices flowing, gets them ready to pop. It’s amazing the difference it makes – they go from dry little shriveled things to fat green seeds that obviously want to grow. But we didn’t plant them just yet. Next, we pre-sprouted them. We rinsed each variety in cold water, and spread them on trays and in bowls with damp paper towels underneath and above them. We put them next to the radiator, and made a tent out of boxes and old blankets to keep them in the dark. We let them sit for another 2 days. Here’s what they looked like with their cute little sprouts:
Next we mixed them with a little water and some inoculant. Peas are legumes, which means they fix nitrogen. So just in case those fantastic nitrogen-fixing bacteria didn’t find their own way to our pea plants, we gave ‘em a lift. The inoculant is a nifty black powder chock full of those helpful bacteria.
Finally, our peas were ready to plant. We fertilzied the beds, tucked the plump, sprouted, inoculated seeds into 2″ deep trenches,
It got cold. 50 degree days, lots of rain. Our poor little pea beds got very wet. The soil was soaked. In some places, the edges of the beds dipped under water. We kept on waiting. I thought, they’re going to rot, it’s going to be like last year all over again, despite everything we did to help them along.
I waited. I expected them to sprout quickly, since most of them had a head start. Johanna and Ariel told me to be patient, that it had been cold, and they only needed a little time and sunshine. I nodded. I waited. I went digging around in the soil, expecting to find rotten peas. Instead, I found plump green peas with little sprouts, just sitting under the soil, waiting for a bit of warmth and sunshine. I felt a little better, but I still wasn’t convinced they were going to come up.
A few sprouted, here and there. I thought, it’s a start.
Then, yesterday, like magic, there they were. Not a few. Not one here, one there, another way down over there. Lots and lots and lots of them. Perfect tiny green rows of sprouts. Sprouts everywhere.
Hello, peas. It’s really nice to see you.