Monday, May 23, 2011

The Pod People: Part One

I spoke briefly of the snow pea trials during the Urban Farm Day event on the 14th, and  today I'm  going to briefly cover the standing results of the trial.  Snow peas are not like shelling or English peas, they are generally harvested just before maturity and can be eaten whole pod and all. This whole-pod eating adds to the nutrient value because you are not just eating the seed but also the chlorophyll and fiber filled pods. Generally snow peas are seen in Asian cuisine in stir-fry type dishes. It is note worthy to mention that snow peas get their name from the fact they are the earliest type of pea you can plant outdoors the test crop was in the ground on 2-23-2011. The reason Snow Peas have been a standing staple of vertical horticulture is simply they are a effective multitasking plant. There are several reasons to plant Snow Peas.

1. Very Space Efficient
2. They fix nitrogen in the soil.
3. The flowers look great.
4. It produces a decent crop for little effort.
5. foliage can be used to sweeten soil or compost.

For an area of 4'  in which to place an upright chicken wire trellis that extends up to 6' tall you can easily get several pounds of peas before summer heat shuts the the whole thing down.  The key is starting seed in February for your spring crop and again in mid to late august for your fall crop. In the south you want to give at least four months, whereas in the north you want to try for three months before the noted frost dates for spring and fall. Also it will pay off to buy a pair of garden snips, which are basically spring-loaded scissors to harvest the pods as tearing the pods off can damage the vines which generally are slow to recover.

With all that said the Snow pea trials are a  two-season test using two differing varieties of snow pea to see which produces better.  The test is also intended to find out what environmental effect is causing the rapid overgrowth of the current snow pea crop. The two varieties are Taichung TC 11 from Ferry-Morse, and Snowbird F1 from Burpee. The former was planted in late winter while the latter will be planted in late summer. It is odd though that with all the heritage and organic seeds out there; snow peas seem to have missed the boat. Taichung and snowbird are average varieties, Snowbird is a more northern variety and handles cold a bit better, where as Taichung seems to handle early summer heat better. Taichung has an average height of 3' where as snow bird averages 2.5'.  Both types of snow pea have a noted maximum height of about  3.5-4' which is about the norm for most noted snow pea varieties.  Taichung however has defied it's labeling and as of this writing is 6' 7.5" tall and is still producing despite obvious signs of powdery mildew and heat stress.  To date five pounds of mature peas have come off the vines as well as several fully matured pods for seed saving purposes. The only thing I've done for the vines is periodically fertilize with a 5-1-1 and maintain regular watering, I suspect the weather and the extra thunderstorm activity has helped also.  Before anyone says 'well duh it's the fertilizer!'  the notice of rapid growth started back before the fertilizer was being used in mid-march. The first measurement was taken on 4-5-2011 when the vines were already  34 inches tall. The average growth per day as noted by the study which ran for forty days was 1.583" per day.

The final part of this test comes in the fall when I sow Snowbird  type snow peas. This variety is a Burpee variety no longer in production, and honestly as most of the seed stock is saved seed from at least six years of trial gardening it's beyond it's original packaging too.  The results of that study will be posted up here at years end. 

No comments:

Post a Comment