We can learn a lot from growing peas in the garden, lessons that we can apply to any crop or flower or plant that we want to have success with.
Lesson No. 1 is be prepared to plant at the proper time.
In past years, I had poor pea harvests because I started my peas too late in the garden, and it would get too hot for them. I realized this last year when I found an old seed packet of my Dad’s, with “sowed March 6th” written on it. I had always wondered how my Dad had such good pea crops year in and year out. He planted early!
So now I try to get my peas in the ground by St. Patrick’s Day, the proper time for my zone, and I’ve had two back to back years of good pea harvests. Last year I was so excited to finally ‘conquer’ peas in the garden that I proclaimed it the Year of the Pea.
Lesson No. 2 is choose a variety that does well in your area. This year and last year I planted ‘Green Arrow’ because that’s the variety that my Dad sowed in his last garden in 1987. I like it because you get a lot of peas in a pod, at least eight to ten, consistently. I’ve planted other varieties in the past that had well-written descriptions, but I would only get three or four peas in a pod. This could have been due to planting them late, but it could have also been that the variety just wasn’t a good one for my climate.
You may have to experiment with a few varieties to see what does well in your garden or ask other gardeners in your area what varieties they grow.
Lesson No. 3 is celebrate your harvest.
It’s not quite the same as the Ritual of the First Tomato, but I do put the peas in a pretty dish and admire them before I cook them and eat them.
Lesson No. 4 is don’t give up.
Looking at my garden journal, I wrote down each year when I planted peas, but there are very few notes about when I harvested peas. Frankly, between planting them late, growing varieties that didn’t do well, and having rabbits eat the vines before they could flower, I never harvested enough peas to record it as an event.
But I perservered and finally figured out how to grow peas…. two years in a row.
They were delicious and worth learning every lesson, over and over again.