GARDEN CLIPPINGS: Peas a favorite vegetable for home gardeners

Vegetable and flower seeds have arrived, and gardeners would be advised to make their selection early before certain varieties are hard to find.

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If this year’s seed sales are like the past, peas will be the first to disappear. Peas are a favorite for home gardeners, and seed houses always seem to have trouble keeping up with demand.

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Top of the list are sugar snap and sugar pod peas, both with edible pods. Sugar snap has round pods with thicker walls, resembling traditional peas, but smaller, growing only three to four inches long. The edible pods are crispy, crunchy and juicy, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Plant Sugar Snap Peas in April while the weather is cool. Seeds will sprout in a few days and vines will reach about four feet in a few short weeks. Give the plants a trellis or light support to make picking easier. In about two months the peas will be ready to eat.

For a succession of crops, consider sowing seeds every two weeks beginning early April. Don’t sow seeds in June, because peas don’t enjoy hot weather.

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Snow peas, like snap peas but flatter, have thinner walls and smaller pods. They can be eaten raw, although I favor snow peas cooked, preferably stir fried.

I usually remove the strings prior to cooking, a step many folks don’t bother with. Add ginger and garlic along with Asian oyster sauce to the stir fry and the taste is remarkable.

My mistake is that I often overcook the peas, thus losing their wonderful crunch.

Grow snow peas just as snap peas. Snow peas will ripen sooner, within two months, growing on shorter vines that will appreciate growing on a shorter trellis. Strings attached to stakes will do the trick just fine.

Traditional peas are easy to grow and will yield peas that are far tastier than the frozen or canned option.

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Sow seeds in early April and again every two weeks as long as the weather remains cool. Plant in full sun. Since peas are planted in spring, they will likely not need water. Avoid adding fertilizer because peas, being a member of the bean family, will find their own nitrogen.

Peas are quick to grow and will reward the gardener with harvest in about two months. Provide a grow net or support stakes so the vines reach sunlight and are easy to pick. If you’d like, plant new seeds in late August for a fall crop.

The most popular variety of peas is Homesteader or Lincoln. Pods are dark green about four to five inches long. Flavor is dependable and delightfully sweet. Like all beans, peas should be picked early so as not to lose flavor.

For a smaller plant growing to only two feet, choose Little Marvel. Pods are shorter, and equally flavorful.

Green Arrow is similar, producing four-inch-long pods, each containing up to 10 sweet, tender peas.

All Peas are good for eating fresh or freezing.

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