Garden Project #1 – Easy Peas
Alrighty, today is the spring equinox. Hello spring, it’s time for the first Little Bean Farms gardening project.
Snap peas or snow peas are one of the rock star vegetables to plant with kids–the seeds are big so they are easy to pick up and plant with small fingers, they sprout quickly and grow up into tasty, sweet pea pods that give you more peas the more you pick them. They are definitely on my top 10 list of vegetables and fruit for children’s gardens (spoiler alert: that’s next week’s post).
But wait, just because the calendar says it’s spring can we really start planting? Gardeners usually use two things as a guide: the local frost-free day and a seed planting chart that gives specific planting times for different vegetables, fruits and herbs.
Vancouver-ites you are typically frost free from March 28th to November 5th, check out the Farmers’ Almanac for more locations. Westcoast Seeds has a very handy planting chart for BC, it’s in their catalog too.
Your easy peas will take about a week to sprout into tiny plants. Get excited, start them this weekend, spring really is around the corner.
First, assemble the items you’ll need:
– Potting mix: a small bag of a store bought variety will keep things easy.
– Something to plant into: I used an egg carton and planted into egg shells to make it a little easier to get the seedlings out when they’re ready to go into the garden.
– Seeds: snap pea, snow pea or shelling peas are all similar. Choose a variety based on your eating preferences and the final height you can handle. Pea vines range in height from 2 to 6 feet depending on the variety. The tall ones will need a trellis or some sort of support. Read the seed package carefully to determine what you’ll be dealing with when they’re fully grown.
– A soup spoon per gardener to use as a small shovel.
– A shallow bowl to pour the seeds into for easier handling.
– A measuring cup or any container suited to pouring.
Pour the seeds into a bowl.
Fill the planting containers with soil.
Plant one seed in each container. Be careful, two or three will try to sneak in there.
Cover with soil. Once the seeds are covered pat the soil down firmly to make sure the seeds don’t float up when you water them.
Give them a nice big drink of water so they know it’s time to get growing. Push any swimming seeds back down under the soil.
4. Patiently dream of Jack and the beanstalk
Tuck your peas-to-be in a warm place while you await the magic of tiny sprouts. They won’t need light until they sprout, about 5-7 days. Keep the soil moist and check on them every couple of days for sprouting action.
Once your seeds become seedlings put them in a sunny spot, preferably south facing, and let them grow up a little. Check to see if they need water every day. It’s normal that some will sprout and some won’t. I had to explain this to my dismayed husband who was expecting a dozen perfect seedlings growing out of each egg carton slot. My daughter, on the other hand, was initially dismayed that her seeds had become plants.
5. Get outside
When it comes to moving your seedlings from inside to out you don’t need to worry too much about putting them outside too early–peas can be planted right outside as seeds. Do let your seedlings slowly get adjusted to the real world by putting them outside during the day for a few days before you transplant them.
If you’re wondering why you just planted something in your house that could have gone straight into the garden there is a reason– if you’re new to gardening or giving someone their first introduction to it, then nothing beats getting up close and personal with your first plants. This little seed is going to become a big plant that gives you a lot of food; it’s all pretty amazing when you watch it step-by-step.
When you’re ready to transplant your pea seedlings outside they’ll do great in a container or garden bed. Just remember the height they’ll grow to and make sure you can accommodate it. All vegetables prefer as much full sun as they can get, so do your best to avoid shady spots or north-facing exposures.
Your peas will start to grow even in the cool spring weather and you’ll have your first harvest before you know it.
6. Share the fun
Feel free to post pictures and stories of your pea seedlings projects as they go along.
Happy spring, happy gardening and see you next week!