Sunday, December 7, 2014

End of Season Review - Peas


This year I grew 3 varieties of sugar snap pea – “Sugar Snap” (presumably this was the original sugar snap), “Super Sugar Snap” and “Cascadia”.  I gave a description of these varieties HERE.
 


Sugar Snap Peas
 
I sowed the peas almost 3 weeks later than I should have which then delayed the harvest.  Originally, I had been planning on growing some shelling peas in the 2nd half of the summer.  That plan, however, never materialized as I was still harvesting sugar snaps in early August, which is well past the date at which that 2nd planting should have been sown.

In trying to maximize the space in the pea bed, I tried growing the climbing peas along one side and then a “bush” pea variety in a 4’ x 6’ block on the south side of the bed.  I ran into two issues – firstly, the Cascadia that I thought were a short, bush type pea ended up being much taller than I anticipated – about 48” tall or so.  And then there were the supports I used for the peas.  They were completely inadequate as my post, aptly named The Leaning Tower of Peas, clearly demonstrates.


Pea supports?  What pea supports?
 


 
I found it impossible to keep track of the harvests from the Sugar Snap and Super Sugar Snap individually - they were planted right next to each other and the vines were just too entangled.  Cascadia was a bit easier to identify but even this was an educated guess most times.  Even though the breakdown between the different varieties may not be correct, the combined sugar snap harvest weight is accurate.
 

Prior Year Comparison

2013

I only grew “Sugar Snap” in 2013 – my first time growing snap peas - and the vines were ripped out early as they were interfering with the pole beans & tomatoes.  Overall, I had a very good harvest - much better than this year.

Total Harvest in 2013 – 2,870 gr (6.33 lbs)
Sq. Ft. Planted – 4½ sq. ft.
Yield/Sq. Ft. – 638 gr (1.41 lb)
Harvest Period – July 2 – 18 (sowed May 1st)

 
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year

I (and my son) love sugar snap peas & they will always find a spot in the garden.

The combined “Sugar Snap” & “Super Sugar Snap” harvest per sq. foot this year was 444 grams (0.98 lbs) compared to 638 grams (1.41 lbs) for just “Sugar Snap” last year.  Considering the harvest period was a full 3 weeks longer this year and we had great pea growing weather with a cool, wet summer, I’m not sure what to make of this.

Is the “Super Sugar Snap” that much less productive that it brought the overall total way down?  Did my abysmal trellising significantly reduce the harvest?  Last year half the peas grew in a sunnier bed while the other half grew in a shadier bed; this year all of the peas were in a bed that was on the shadier side – could this have made the difference?  The jury is out on what caused the decreased pea yield this year.  It was probably a combination of two or more of these factors.  One thing is certain - I want to do much better next year.

I have to revise both the layout of the bed and my trellising methods (obviously!).  I’ll probably use more than one conduit trellis and I will try another type of natural twine – perhaps cotton - instead of the stretchy jute.  Like so many things in the garden, I will likely change my mind a dozen times on the pea bed layout & trellis before I make a final decision.

I saved seed from both Super Sugar Snap & the regular Sugar Snap this summer.  Both of these will be grown again next year.  I will be replacing Cascadia with a much shorter variety - no more than 24" tall - which I can hopefully grow alongside the climbing peas.


Sugar Snaps Left to Mature for Seed Saving
 
I also really need to tinker around with both timing and the varieties I grow to see if I can squeeze in both a spring and fall crop of peas in the same bed (which is why I’m including both sowing and harvest dates in my tables).  Both last year and this year I planted the peas about 3 weeks later than what my schedule says.  Next year I WILL plant them on time....hopefully we won't be waiting for weeks for spring to arrive like we did this past year.

And lastly, I’m sad that I wasn’t able to grow any shelling peas this year.  Even though they are supposed to be big space hogs for the harvest they produce, I would have loved even a small quantity of garden fresh peas, so these will definitely be included in the plan.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

6 comments:

  1. I find that my harvest from one year to another varies a lot. But I can't see that I'm doing anything different over the years. Spring is just fickle.

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    1. Ugh...it really bothers me when I can't figure out why a crop did better/worse than prior years. I'm sure there will be lots of instances like this in the garden over the years and I'm just going to have to learn to live with it.

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  2. I just read your leaning tower post as I am trying to figure out what approach to use next season. I tried using just bamboo poles and it did not work well for me so I definitely need string or netting and a better trellis setup. I have been reading TONS of info on this and can't seem to make a decision - but I guess I still have all winter to work something out!

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    1. You and me both! I've already changed my mind twice about how I'm going to lay out the pea bed & have a feeling that I'm not done yet.

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  3. I have had the same experience trying to grow peas in a block in a raised bed. They always seem to grow taller than the catalog description and flop over. Next year I am going to try just a trellis. I also read in a catalog somewhere (maybe Fedco?) that planting peas early allows them to develop a bigger root structure. Peas planted later won't yield as much.

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    1. I'm not giving up on my pea bed idea....yet! That's interesting about the yield with the peas. I love them so much, though, that even a small yield later in the season would be wonderful...we were definitely missing them by early September this year.

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