Call me crazy but my answer to this question is, “No”. In gardening, rarely does one size fit all. For some people this is the right time, for some it’s too early, and for other’s it may be too late. So how do we know when to plant our peas? Let’s ask the peas…
Peas would tell you they prefer well-drained soil between 50 and 60ºF. They would like to grow in daytime temperatures between 60 and 75ºF but will tolerate a little cooler or warmer. But if you think about your garden in the middle of March, it often doesn’t feel like this.
How do we figure out when to sow?
First, check soil temperature with a thermometer. The minimum temperature necessary is 40ºF. But germination takes about 36 days at that temperature so it’s better to wait until the soil is between 50 – 60ºF.
Second, check soil moisture. Consistent moisture is necessary, but if you can wring water from your soil, or if it feels soggy, then it is too wet and needs to drain a bit before sowing your peas.
Third, Don’t worry. After checking your garden, you may find conditions are right in mid-March, but may of us don’t. Don’t worry; it’s not too late. Remember, the timing on a seed packet often describe the first opportunity to sow, not the last. Peas can often be sown until mid-April with good results.
What if you are late?
Is there any way to salvage a good crop of peas?
YES, There is!
First, soak your peas the night before sowing. The wrinkly little seeds will grow 3-5 times in size. This speeds up germination and emergence a lot, so you’ll have established plants sooner.
Second, harvest at the right time. If you sow late and your peas are ripening in warmer weather, don’t let the pods over-develop. Also, harvest in the morning when temperatures are coolest. Both of these tips will ensure the mildest flavor even in warmer weather.
Third, don’t forget about a fall crop. If you miss the boat in spring, you can sow peas 8-10 weeks before your first frost and get a great crop that is made sweeter by the cool weather of fall.
So there, you have it. The conventional wisdom is right! Sometimes…
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