I have grown snow peas off and on throughout the past decade in our Urban Potager, but in recent years, I have been battling the critters. I have started them in every possible place you can think of, and the small birds, bunnies, or chipmunks keep destroying or damaging my crops. The little pea plants look great until they get to about a six inches tall and it is a battle to keep them, going. Until this year, the critters kept winning but, not anymore!!!
Early spring my peas were growing strong and tall until one day, I noticed something eating the edges of all my new green leaves. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! This needed to end; It was them or me, and my quest to have snow peas was drawn in the garden dirt! I was determined to find a solution that allowed me to live peacefully with my resident creatures. Our dog keeps our bunnies under control, and when he finds a rabbit or nest, I usually go inside and let him finish what he needs to do. I know, I am a wimp!However, he is getting too old to catch the speedy chipmunks. To keep chipmunks away, I used to use black netting until I found a dead chipmunk struggling in the mesh, and I let it go. Yep, I am a sucker like that and probably would not make a great farmer. The slow death by black mesh was cruel. There had to be a better way to battle my critter problem. There was, CHICKEN WIRE! I love this stuff. It keeps them out of my crops, and we can share the same space.
The only disadvantage of chicken wire is that my spring edible plants are placed in mini corrals around the garden. It does not make a beautiful garden early spring, but it is what you have to do to keep your edible garden safe from all those little animals that want to eat tender, spring seedlings. Today is the first day of summer here in the Midwest which means the corrals are rolled up, and my resident critters have moved on to other things to eat. If I did not corral up my crops early spring, I would have nothing to eat!
I had the peas enclosed in chicken wire since the end of March, and everything was going well until I discovered little birds nibbling all my green leaves later in the spring. Those little birds were squeezing through the larger holes in my chicken wire. UGH, back to the drawing board! I decided to double wire while I waited for some smaller holed wire that I ordered to arrive. Once I double wired the area, it took a few weeks for the plants to recover from the damage done by the nibbling. I had to wait a bit longer for snow peas. When they DID recover, the plants grew to about 3 feet tall and were filled with lovely white blooms!
This spring I grew only dwarf Snow Pea DeGrace which is known to tolerate some frigid temps and even survive a bit of snow. De Grace Snow Pea is a rare heirloom that is hard to find according to Baker Creek Seeds, it has been extinct from North American trade for 20 years. Our springs in the Midwest, Quad City region are usually perfect for pea growing. Peas like consistent cool weather which is not always possible to predict in this area lately. Since I started our Urban Potager back in 2003, our Spring weather has been all over the spectrum and extremely unpredictable.
We are starting to have some record-breaking heat temperatures for spring in the Midwest. The peas in the past few weeks have begun not producing any flowers.DARN!. We have been breaking records all over the place for “hot” spring days which go back as far as the 1800’s.
This is a lovely heirloom dwarf pea that will grace our Urban Potager for years to come. I plan on growing it this fall since it is a dwarf variety and should start producing earlier than some others that I have tried in the past. I feel it is an ideal one for a small garden. Do give it a try!
I recommend growing this snow pea in containers if you don’t have a lot of space. I have tried snow peas in pots before on the back porch. I feel this dwarf variety would work better than some of the 6-foot snow pea vines I have tried in the past.
I practice succession planting so early June I started my cucumber plants at the base of the snow peas. As the snow peas start slowing down and some of the leaves yellow up and die, cucumbers will be running up the trellis to give us a summer crop. In the city, we don’t have a lot of space, so we have to keep thinking ahead what we can plant in place of a crop that quits producing. I will side dress the cucumbers with some compost, and they should be ready in a month.
I wish we had a longer spring for these were some of the best snow peas I have tasted. Many times they did not make it to the kitchen for I ate them in the garden. Our hot weather last week seems to have zapped the sweetness right out of them. I can’t wait to grow them again in the fall. Snow peas should be a vegetable that all people grow in the city. They grow vertically and don’t take up much space. Just remember to corral them up with some chicken wire!