Labor day weekend unofficially marks the end of summer, so that means fall planting for me! Down came the tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants, and sewn were the seeds of fall crops. One fall crop I planted this year was the delightfully delicious sugar snap pea.
A little bit of history
Did you know that sugar snap peas are a pretty new strain of peas? Sugar snap peas were developed by crossing thick-walled garden peas with snow peas in 1979. We can thank plant breeder, Calvin Lamborn, for that!
Sugar snap peas are generally self-pollinating. This means that they don’t need the help of beneficial insects, such as bees, to produce pea pods. Instead, sugar snap peas typically pollenate themselves by dropping their own pollen onto their own ovaries before their flowers even open.
Sugar snap peas are considered cool weather crops and can take a light frost without any problems. Typically, sugar snap peas take between 7-14 days to germinate, and require 70 days until the first harvest.
You should space the seeds about 2 inches apart, while spacing rows 2 and 1/2 feet apart. Sugar snap peas are also climbers–requiring about 6 feet of vertical support.
For more information, head over to the Gardening Spreadsheet page!
My first year growing sugar snap peas was quite the learning experience. I knew that sugar snap peas required trellising as their vines grow to about six feet tall. In order to accommodate them, I picked up about seven feet of chicken wire and made an arc from the base of the plant to the ground. My theory was that I could probably train the peas to first climb up the trellis and then back down.
Boy, was I wrong. I learned the hard way that sugar snap peas are delicate little things. In the middle of trying to wrestle the stem of the pea plant closer to its trellis, I broke the main stem off!
So, what now?
Well, it turns out that sugar snap peas, though delicate, are quite hardy. The little green nodes set between each pair of leaves on the stem are now growing to take over the job of the main stem.
Why is the base of my plant looking decrepit?
Another thing I noticed about the pea plants was that as the plant grew, the base of the plants started to yellow and wilt.
A quick internet search led me to believe that a variety of factors could be contributing to the yellowing at the base of my plant. However, after further digging around, I found out that the conditions of my plant’s environment (i.e., potting in a container) probably would not be contributing to those factors. It turns out that the yellowing at the base of pea plants is actually quite common and doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with the plant. In fact, most other gardeners I know have said that their sugar snap peas always show yellowing and shriveling up at the base of the plant but it doesn’t hurt the fruits.
With that said, I’ll be keeping an eye on the plants. In the meantime, our other unbroken sugar snap pea vine set its first flower just about 57 days from the day we planted the seeds. More pics about their progress to come!
It has now been about a week since my last update on the sugar snap peas (day 64 of 70 until first harvest). The last week has been pretty rough, weather-wise. The days were pretty chilly (in the mid 40’s) and the nights were cold as well (high 20’s, low 30’s). Because I was worried about the frost, I decided to keep my plants warm by putting some into a cheap greenhouse/cold frame I picked up, and wrapped a couple layers of row cover around the sugar snap peas at night.
Despite being worried about my peas, I walked outside to a surprise this morning.
As you can see from the picture, I have several other sugar snap pea buds that are starting to flower, so overall the plant seems to be doing well.
I also have updates on the stem that I broke earlier on!
This pea plant has rallied to produce new growth all over the place! As you can see in the picture, a new main stem has begun to form. There are also several other places on the plant that have started to grow side stems in an attempt to make up for the main stem break. This is in contrast to the unbroken pea plant, which does not have any side stems forming. Veeery interesting, if I don’t say so myself!
I can’t wait to harvest that first sugar snap pea and pop it into my mouth! Until next time!
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