The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Stream-lining pea planting

Pounding in trellis postSoon after posting that our soil was too cold for peas, I stuck the thermometer in the ground again and got a reading of 39 degrees.  Yes, that's still one degree shy of their minimum germination temperature, but the ten day forecast (with the exception of today) promises highs in the fifties to sixties and lows above freezing, so I figured I could risk it.

I've posted before about how I make my pea trellises.  These light-weight fence posts combined with the green plastic trellis material are easy to put up and take down and look quite elegant in the garden.  I do most of the work myself, but always need to ask Mark to pound in the fence posts.

I've only had two problems with my pea plantings in recent years.  I've learned not to plant peas in the waterlogged soil of the back garden since they tend to get root rot.  And this year I'm also working harder to keep all of the soil except for the row where the peas will come up completely mulched.  Last year, weeds grew amid the pea plants before I pulled the mulch back into place, and when I tried to rip the weeds out, I removed a few pea vines as well.  Luckily, the partially decomposed straw that mulched the beds over the winter is in just the right state to sit politely in the middle of the bed without blowing around and covering up emerging seedlings.

Making a pea trellis

As a final note, if you're a raw beginner, you might want to check out my posts about soaking peas, giving extra soaked peas to the chickens, why we no longer grow shelling peas, and growing peas for tendrils.  I'm looking forward to sugar snap peas in May!

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with poop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi Anna - Great minds think like you! I'm putting up my trellises today. Here in mild-climate California, we put our peas in the ground around Halloween-time (as soon as the tomatoes come out), and they're about 4' tall by now. Unfortunately I got a late start last fall, so my peas are just ready to be strung up now.

We make our trellis out of PVC pipe and hang the white nylon netting from them. Not sure how your readers feel about the use of exposed PVC in the garden, though.

This year I experimented and planted flowering sweet peas in amongst the edible peas - hopefully will attract more pollinators and be pretty. Yes, I know sweet pea pods are not to be eaten, but they're also very different-looking from the edible pea pods, so I'm not worried.

Comment by Rena Sun Feb 19 13:29:35 2012
I just planted my peas too! I normally use a few wooden posts and a grid of twine, but am looking for something less time-consuming and more stable this year. Thanks for your post, it is a good idea and reminded me of a friend's garden I saw last year doing the same thing except he used metal grid fencing.
Comment by tommy Sun Feb 19 13:50:58 2012

Rena -- Planting peas in October --- crazy! I think it's an entirely different world gardening in areas like Texas and California. I can see how PVC pipes would make a good trellis, with connector pieces to hook them into a solid shape.

Tommy --- I think you might be talking about livestock panels? I think those could make a great trellis too! I do love the way you can roll this green plastic stuff up, though, and put it away for next year.

Comment by anna Sun Feb 19 14:35:58 2012
Anna, do you just run a row of peas on each side of your trellis, one trellis per bed? Last year I put 2 trellises parallel to each other in one bed and it was quite a pain to harvest. If you do one trellis per bed do you plant anything else along the edges? Thanks.
Comment by Dave V Mon Mar 19 06:22:41 2012

Dave --- I do just one row of peas on each side of the trellis, and only one trellis per bed.. I figure it's not that wasteful of space if I put the seeds pretty close together and they take over the whole trellis.

I've tried using more than two rows of legumes per bed, and just can't seem to make it work. Even bush beans and bush peas are just too hard to pick if you double up the rows! I do tend to choose the skinnier beds for them, though. I guess that's one good thing about our garden not being laid out with real precision. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Mar 19 15:58:18 2012

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