Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Peas & Favas


This year, I’m growing 3 varieties of peas (1 sugar snap & 2 shelling) and 2 varieties of fava beans.

I often hear that growing shelling peas is not worthwhile, given their yield for the amount of space they take up in the garden.  But I have memories of devouring freshly picked peas at my friend’s house as a kid – it was always a super yummy treat.  So I thought I would give these a bit of real estate this year.  If they are as good as I remember, I wouldn’t be averse to building one or two new beds so that I could grow more of them.

The favas are an altogether new addition to the garden.  I don't think I've ever eaten fresh favas as they are usually only available frozen.

Sabre Pea (61 days, shelling, William Dam)

Photo Source:  William Dam
 
This bush shelling pea (20-24” tall) is supposed to do well even during the heat of summer.  Since it is quick maturing, I may try to do another seeding in the summer if I have space available at the right time.


Aladdin PVP Pea (67 days, shelling, William Dam)

Photo Source:  William Dam
 
Another heat tolerant bush shelling pea (18 – 28” tall).  The interesting thing about this one is that it is semi-leafless, which should translate into easier picking.


Sugar Snap Pea (60 days, saved seed - originally purchased from The Cottage Gardener)

Sugar Snaps in last years garden
 
I believe this is the original sugar snap – it is my third year growing these and they are so delicious!  If I could only grow one type of pea, this would be it.

Both of the fava varieties I'm trying came from Baker Creek.  They are not the best when it comes to giving you days to harvest, so I had to do some searching to get an estimate.


Ianto’s Fava (70-90 days, Baker Creek)

Photo Source:  Baker Creek
 
From what I have seen, many favas grow on relatively short 3-4' plants.  I thought I would give this Guatemalan variety a try as it's supposed to reach up to 6’ tall.  It does take quite a bit longer to mature than the early varieties, so that means it will be growing during the heat of summer.  Since favas prefer cooler temps, I'm not sure what kind of an impact the hot summer weather will have - will I not get a harvest at all or will my harvest be delayed until cooler temperatures return in the fall?


Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto Fava Bean (56-70 days, Baker Creek)

Photo Source:  Baker Creek
 
Michelle's spotlight and her recent harvests inspired me to give this early variety a try.  I'm a bit concerned that I may have sown the favas too late and this one will still end up maturing during the heat of summer.


Sowing the Seeds

The peas were planted on April 10th – about 1 week before we left on our trip.  The favas should been have planted at the same time but I was hesitant to sow & then leave them as I hadn’t grown them before.  Then, only a couple of days before we left, I changed my mind – the temperatures were forecast to be moderate for the coming week, hovering around the 10C (50F) mark, and there were a couple of days of rain forecast as well.  I decided to take my chances and get the favas in the ground.

I soaked the peas for 2 hours and the favas for almost 24 hours before sowing them.  I also tossed them around in a baggie with some inoculant.

Inoculant dusted peas ready for planting
 
Last year, I purchased some granular inoculant and it didn’t seem to do much.  Although I still had a great harvest, when I pulled the peas and beans out of the ground, I didn’t see many nitrogen fixing nodules on the roots.  This year, I am using the standard powdery type of inoculant – hopefully I have better results.

Sowing Peas
 
For the sugar snap peas & Ianto’s favas, I placed two 8’ long conduit trellises on the north side of a bed, spacing them 18” apart.  Each trellis will hold a 4’ section of favas and a 4’ section of sugar snaps.

I covered the bed with Agribon to not only hold in moisture but protect the seeds from birds.  Even though they haven't been a major problem, I did notice that some of the peas were strewn about last year when I left the bed uncovered, so I didn't want to take any chances.

Agribon holding in moisture & keeping out birds
 
Once the seeds are planted, it always seems to take a very long time for them to come up.  It actually took longer this year than last year (14 days vs. 10), likely because of the cool/cold weather we had.

Peas - 4 weeks
 
The favas have only started to poke their heads out of the soil in the past week.  For a while there, I was getting a bit worried.

Fava's - 3 weeks
 
Now, you can't have a discussion about planting peas without talking about supports.  I haven’t had the best of luck in the past when it comes to trellising peas.  It's quite embarrassing, actually.

Since pea vines get very tangled in their supports, I tried to use biodegradable materials (jute) so that everything could go directly into the compost.  But with my skimpy use of the twine coupled with jutes tendency to stretch when it gets wet, it didn't work out very well, as you can plainly see HERE.  Told you it was embarrassing ;)

One alternative is to use balers twine, which is super strong and doesn't stretch.  But that would require me to painstakingly remove the pea vines from the twine or cut everything down and then dispose of it in the garbage, as the twine is not biodegradable.  Neither would be a good option for me.

I decided on a different approach - a galvanized metal grid, which you can see HERE.  I haven't even purchased these yet, but it's on the To Do list for the week.  The large 6" gaps are big enough to reach to the other side for harvesting, but small enough to provide good support (hopefully).  Setup should also be easy as I'll simply tie them right to the conduit trellis using zip ties.  My thinking is that with such a rigid support, I will easily be able to rip the vines right off at the end of the season.  I'll also be using these for the climbing favas & will simply tie the vines to the supports.  We'll have to see if this all works out as planned.

The shelling peas are not supposed to grow much taller than 24”.  However, past experience tells me that they will still need a fairly sturdy support if I don’t want them to end up in a tangled, flattened mess.  I've planted these in a 2 x 7' block and I’m considering a bamboo/cotton twine contraption - I haven't given up yet Dave!  I would also be using the same setup for the shorter favas.

I'm hoping that the cotton twine does not stretch nearly as much as the jute did.  Since this is one of those "a picture is worth a thousand words" situations, I won't bother trying to describe it here but will post a photo once I set it up - another task for this week.

Till next time...

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

29 comments:

  1. Peas are worth growing just on flavour alone - shop bought ones just don't compete.

    Interesting that you soak your broad beans (fava) we grow ours in modules and plant them out as small plants. This year they are so slow.

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    1. I've noticed that several bloggers in the UK grow broad beans in that way and I'll definitely be trying that method next year. An earlier harvest & the bed is available for another crop sooner...those are some big advantages.

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  2. I grow the tall variety-Sugar Snap Peas and run them up hog panels--similar to what you will be trying but they are 4 foot high and 16 foot long. Love those peas for snacking--they NEVER have made it to the house!
    :D

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    1. That's so true - they are so incredibly delicious & sweet compared to what you get at the grocer. I've always ripped them out a bit early in past years in an attempt to grow another round in that space, but this year, I think I'll leave them be, just to see how long they last.

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  3. The jute may not have worked so well but wow, you had a great harvest. I can see the plants dripping with pods. I haven't planted peas or broad beans this year. I'm not so keen on broad beans, or I should really say that they're my least favourite bean, so I give the space to runners and French beans. Peas I love but pea grubs I don't so I always net them when I do grow them and sometimes it just seems too much bother, especially when the rest of the family aren't really bothered for peas. They are delicious eaten straight from the pod though, yum yum. What about twiggy sticks for support? They seem to do ok so long as they've got something to grab hold of. I'm growing mange tout again this year but I think it's been a bit cold for them, they're not putting on much growth just yet.

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    1. It definitely was a great pea harvest last year - so delicious! I did consider using small branches, but the thing with the "bush" peas is that they seem to grow quite a bit taller than expected (this happened last year anyhow) & I'm not sure sticks would be sufficient. One good gust of wind and they would likely come tumbling down. I've never even heard of pea grubs - they do not sound pleasant!

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  4. Sugar Snaps are definitely the one pea for me, although I have been trying snow peas also. I really like Golden Sweet snow peas, they are pretty and their harvest stretches out a bit longer than other snow peas that I've tried. I run my peas up a trellis made from galvanized concrete reinforcing mesh with 6-inch square openings. The only problem with that system is that the pea plants lean towards or away from the sunny side and don't attach well on that side so I end up having to tie them to the trellis so that they don't flop. I'm thinking of trying to grow them between a double trellis to keep them contained.

    Hope your fava trials go well. I suspect that if the plants bloom and set before the hot weather sets in that they might do ok.

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    1. That's good to know about the favas - now if they would only get going and grow!

      Funny you should mention growing the peas in between the supports as that is exactly what I have planned. I have two double rows of peas sowed in between the two conduit trellises - one row is directly under each trellis and the other rows are 4" apart in between the trellises. I figured this would keep them from flopping over in either direction. The only thing is that the trellises may be too far apart at about 18" and the peas will flop down in between them. I may have to help them along at some point.

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  5. Oh my gosh, I'm experiencing the same issue re: trellis. I don't grow a lot of peas so just using bamboo poles (although I don't know why as they didn't work well for me last year). But for pole beans ... I honestly haven't made a decision yet on what to use and need to decide soon!

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    1. Last year I used a combination of the conduit trellis & bamboo poles for the beans and it worked out really well. On either end & in the middle of the conduit trellis, I had 2 bamboo poles, crossing at the top & then stretched jute along the bottom and vertically along the entire trellis. You can kind of see the trellis in this post - http://homegrown-adventuresinmygarden.blogspot.ca/2014/08/whats-happening-in-garden-mid-august.html. In this case, the jute worked out just fine as the beans grab onto it really well & wind around the actual conduit, so I didn't have any issues with them flopping around or the jute stretching. Once again, it's easier to see in pictures than to describe. I'll post photos once I get my beans in the ground in a couple of weeks.

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    2. Just checked out the photo ... yes, that's something like I was envisioning, thanks.

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  6. Your spring peas and fava beans are looking wonderful. Your extra tall beds look great too. Some shelling peas have tasty sweet young pods. Tall Telephone peas are super sweet and yummy when they're flat, just like snow peas.

    It gets too hot too early here for spring peas, I'm going to be trying a fall planting. Fall planted Windsor fava broad beans have over-wintered well for me in this area.

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    1. How lucky you are to be able to overwinter fava beans for an early spring harvest. I've had issues with planting peas for the fall as I never seem to have a spot available for them early enough for them to mature. I'm hoping that I can figure something out on that front this year.

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  7. Good luck with your peas. I always stuck with Cascade snap peas as they only got 3' tall and it was easier to trellis them. I just used jute. But I would occasionally add more as the season progressed and they tried to tangle in other things.

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    1. I grew Cascadia last year (which I think is the same as you grew - why can't these seed houses be consistent with names?) and it grew to about that height, although I was expecting it to be much shorter, so I didn't provide anywhere near the support it needed. This year, I'm planning on hammering in rebar for the corners of the bush pea block - we'll see if that helps with the whole flattening issue.

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  8. I'm "block free" this year, totally trellised, so we won't be able to compare notes. For the peas I'll be erecting 8 foot trellises soon. I considered the twine approach. It would be nice to be able to cut it down and throw in the compost. Maybe I will see if I can find that reinforcing mesh again. If that fails I have a 50 foot package of garden trellis I can fall back on Good luck with the favas. They are an aphid magnet. I never see an aphid in my garden except when I plant favas. They must be a freebie that comes with the seed.

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    1. I was just about to purchase that concrete reinforcing mesh yesterday for the peas & then discovered that is rusts extremely easily - in fact, it was already all rusty at the store. It is relatively inexpensive, however - two 4' x 8' sections would cost only $20 vs. $50 for cattle panels. I'm not sure if the rustiness would even impact anything other than how it looks, but I'm not willing to take any chances, so I'm going to bite the bullet and get the cattle panels. At least I know they will last for many, many years.

      Eek - I didn't realize that favas were flea beetle magnets. I know that eggplant is and I'm growing that for the first time this year too. I haven't had too many issues with flea beetles up, but now that I have two new very attractive flea beetle veg growing, who knows. Thanks for the warning - I'll be keeping a very close eye on them.

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    2. Not flea beetles, black aphids. It's amazing. I never see an aphid until I plant favas.

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    3. Oops - I think my eggplants are causing me to have flea beetles on the brain. I don't think I've ever seen black aphids. But then again, I didn't have any problems with aphids at all until I planted mei qing last year...so now I'm wondering what surprises the favas and all the other new veg I'm growing will bring.

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  9. When I used to grow peas I always used 'pea brush' for support for the shorter types. I do love the sugar snaps too. If I grew a pea it would likely be them. I have never grown favas, so it will be interesting to watch yours and see how they perform. Our weather heats up so fast in spring that it is tough to get cool weather crops to do well then.

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    1. I looked for brush to support the peas last year, but wasn't overly successful at finding "good" branches. But considering how tall the peas got (around 3') & the winds we sometimes get, I'm not confident that would have been enough support.

      We've had quite the warm spring this year as well, although you wouldn't know it from this mornings temp of 1C (34F)! It fell to 0 last night, but only for about an hour, so I'm hopeful that it didn't harm the blossoms on the fruit trees.

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  10. I too think that peas are "special". The taste of a fresh pea just picked from the vine is incomparable! I have had to give up growing them because they always fell victim to mildew. However, I always grow Broad Beans (Favas) and they usually do very well. I sow mine in the early Spring and harvest them in June. When I grew peas I used to use chicken wire as a support system and it worked well. It is flexible, yet sturdy enough for you to be able to rip the vines off easily when they have finished.

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    1. Chicken wire would be a great solution if I was only growing one double row of peas - it's definitely easier to handle than the cattle panel which is much heavier than I anticipated. But since I am growing two double rows, one behind the other, the trellis spacing has to be wide enough to allow for access to the peas in the back row.

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  11. Love fresh peas! They rarely make it to the freezer for winter as I eat them raw as a snack and cook in stirfry for my husband. Really wish Favas grew here better, but it goes from freezing to hot and not enough cool season to grow them well. Love the purple seeds.

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    1. I don't know anyone that grows them around here so I have no idea whether our spring is too short for them. Even if they don't do well this year, I'll likely try again and plant them earlier next year.

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  12. Sugar snap pea is my number one favorite among all peas. Like you I also sow my fava beans WAY too late (as usual), it's blooming now and the weather is still a tad on the cool side lately, don't know I'll get a harvest in June/July.

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    1. I don't even have blooms on mine yet and our spring weather in the past few weeks has been more like summer weather...which would be great for peppers and tomatoes (which of course aren't even planted out yet) but not so great for the cool weather plants like spinach and favas.

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  13. Tried growing favas but was unsuccessful looking forward to reading about your experience. I start my peas and bean seeds in pots and transplant the seedlings so much easier and no bird issue.

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    1. The weather has been so hot lately (well up until the last couple of days, anyhow) - I'm crossing my fingers, Norma, that I actually get a fava harvest!

      Transplanting beans and peas is an intriguing idea. I use such close spacing for the peas, that I definitely wouldn't have enough room for them under the lights. However, beans are a different story and I can see myself giving that a try at some point.

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