Saturday, February 20, 2016

Spring planting

I really enjoy growing some of our own veggies for a couple of reasons. First, it saves some money, and second, it keeps me from being bored once school ends (this is usually when the plants are close to harvest).
In this post, I am planting three varieties of peas: Green Arrow, Alaska, and Little Marvel. I incorporated growing peas into my eighth grade science fair project and had a very difficult time with this plant. I spent the next several years perfecting their growth and harvest, and I now enjoy growing this little lovelies every spring.
They aren't a big fan of hot weather, so they are usually about done in May, which means that they need to go in the ground around March, so I usually start them inside in February. I like to use the seed pods because I've had a lot of luck starting seeds with the pods. However, buying the package of 72 pods and container is around $15 at Wal-Mart, which is great...until you start college and have no money.
This is my solution: Egg cartons.
I was able to find the seed pods for Wal-Mart at around $3 a pop, but two packages brings me up the 72 pods for half the price I used to spend.
I placed one pod into each of the egg pockets.
I used an 18-egg carton as well as 2 12-egg cartons. I will save the other 30 seed pods for the green beans and carrots that I am planting indoors after the peas move outdoors.
I heated a cup of water up for about 30 seconds so that it would be a little warmer than room temperature (warm water works best on the pods).
The pods should puff up to about three times their original height, around an 1.5"-2".
Once they are puffed up you can tear the mesh away from the top to make planting a little easier.
The mesh tears pretty easily. I just made four rips, one on each side (top, bottom, left, and right) of the pod.
Now comes the actual planting of the pea.
If you are speedy and the pods are still slightly damp you can just place the seed on top and press firmly into the soil.
I try to push the pea about halfway into the pod. I usually put two peas into each pod (on opposite sides so there is space between them). In case a pea doesn't do very well there is another as back-up.
You cover the holes and press the dirt firmly into the pod. They may look a bit shabby at this point, but its dirt contained in mesh, so there wasn't a lot of hope for perfect cleanliness.
While you plant, make some sort of mark so that you know what kind of pea is in which spot. When I plant them in the ground, I will group like peas together.
Stay tuned for updates about their status!
It's been about a week now and the plants are starting to get pretty tall, so it's time to do some trimming.
As I mentioned before, I usually put two peas in each pod in case one doesn't do well. Anytime after the peas reach 2 inches you can cut the smaller of the two so that the tallest will have the full benefit of the soil.
You can use scissors, or even a knife, but I used these little clippers. I like to cut them right at the base so that you don't have a lot of extra pea in the way.
Though your crop is significantly thinned, these last plants are left will grow to their full potential.
The next installment will likely be planting them outdoors.
The weather is nice, the peas are tall. Now is the time, most important of all. Time for planting!
I started off by creating a little ditch just a few inches from the side of the raised bed. I dug the ditch around 2 inches deep.
I then inserted my little pods into the ditch, two inches apart.
Peas by nature need to be supported, so I wrapped chicken wire around posts to line three sides of the raised bed.
Very, very carefully wind the plant through a couple of the spaces so that it holds fast. As the pea grows, it will loop tendrils around the wires to get a firmer hold.

Fill in the area around the base, making sure to surround the pod and cover it with a nice layer of soil.
Press firmly around the plant to ensure that the dirt is firmly packed.
Here is a finished bed of my peas.

Lastly, water the little lovelies and let the sun do its duty. (But don't forget to continue watering lightly everyday--unless the rain handles this for you).

Happy crafting!

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