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Choosing Vegetable Varieties: Peas

Peas are my favourite thing to grow. I grow all kinds – traditional shelling peas (some of them get frozen for winter use), crisp and crunchy snap peas, delicate thin snow peas, and soup peas to dry for the winter. All of them grow well here, though there are a few pests and diseases, and dry peas are far more reliable than dry beans if you’re growing them for winter protein.

Read on for my favorite varieties of the different kinds:

sugar snap peas on trellis

Shelling Peas

  • Meteor – a UK variety that grows small pods on small plants but is the fastest pea I’ve ever tried. Always the first shelling pea to be picked, this is always part of the first early batch of peas I plant.
  • Green Arrow – a tallish bush that is super-reliable and a  good cropper. My standard for any planting date.
  • Tall Telephone – takes longer than bush peas to crop, but then keeps on growing and setting new pods until it succumbs to powdery mildew. I’ve been selecting these for longer pods and more pods per vine, from a rather raggedy initial commercial batch from a cheap seed company.

Snap Peas

  • Sugar Snap – a vine that just keeps going and going
  • Cascadia – bush pea that’s very reliable

Snow Peas

  • Oregon sugar pod – big pods, bush plants, long season
  • Purple podded snow pea – this is an old variety that doesn’t have the tenderest pods but it’s worth it for the bright purple colour!

Soup Peas

  • Carlin – this has been my standard for many years. It’s strong-growing vine that dries down very reliably by the first week in August, thus avoiding the September rains that ruin so many dry bean crops here. Again, I am doing some selecting on this for more pods, bigger pods, and stronger vines.

This year I’ll be trying several new-to-me soup peas:  Swedish Red, Ancient Peas, Gold Harvest and Golden Edible Pod (which can be used as a snow pea or dried for a soup pea). I’ll probably have seed to share at Seedy Saturday in 2015.


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A Gardener’s Christmas

So what does a keen gardener do over Christmas, when the garden is soaking wet or snowy, the weather is freezing cold, and working outside seems like a game for crazy people…?

This is what this gardener is planning 🙂

  • Read new gardening books. Dead-tree books from our local indie bookstore, Breakwater Books, and Kindle books on my tablet. It’s amazing that there are still new things to say about gardening, but people still  manage to do so. This year there are plenty of Permaculture books in the mix.
  • Plant seeds! In my previous post I told you about Winter Sowing, and that’s what I’ll be doing. One of the nice things about winter sowing is that you can cheerfully sow old seed without a big investment in fuss or containers: if it comes up, great, but if not, no big loss.
  • Read seed catalogs. Can get lost in these for hours on end 🙂
  • Eat homegrown food. This does require going outside in the wet if I want to harvest parsnips and brussels sprouts, but it’s worth it. And there are potatoes, squash, garlic and other stored veggies to choose from inside.
  • Dream and plan next year’s garden. With all the factors of crop rotation, shade, soil, deerproof-ness, timing, etc this can take a while, so it’s best to start early.

Whatever your Christmas gardening plans, I hope you have a pleasant and peaceful holiday.

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Winter Sowing – easy way to start lots of plants for your garden

Winter sown milk jugs
Winter sown milk jugs

Starting seeds indoors can take up a lot of space. Outdoors, things take a long time and can get destroyed by weather and animals.

Winter Sowing is a method which lets you sow your seeds indoors, then set them outdoors but protected, so they get started sooner and are less likely to be damaged. And no, you don’t need a greenhouse!

One of the best parts is that you get to play in the dirt in the winter – I usually start in December. All that pent-up gardening energy from reading the seed catalogs can be put to good use right away!

Here are a couple of links to get you started: