Pea plants
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Peas, Please!

Many Pacific NW gardeners believe they must get their peas in the ground by President’s Day. However, the soil is often too saturated to work in February and it may be worth your while to wait until March. A plastic covering will help the soil dry out if it looks like the rain is going to continue non-stop. If you are lucky enough to be able to work in your veggie garden, planting disease-resistant varieties in early spring will help reduce the risk of infection by the enation mosaic virus and powdery mildew when the temperatures rise.

Peas are fun and easy to grow, but they are not always trouble-free. They are a favorite of the pea leaf weevil, a small brownish-gray beetle about 1/5″ long that chomp the leaves. There is a way to beat the pea leaf weevil and still get your peas into the ground early enough to enjoy a bountiful harvest.

Peas can outgrow a weevil attack if they are healthy. You can start peas in do-it-yourself newspaper pots and transplant them to your garden beds when they are big enough – about 6” tall. You don’t need a greenhouse. Try starting a flat outside in a cold frame or protected shelf that still gets plenty of sun.

Speed up germination by soaking the seeds in water before you plant. Bury the entire pot. The newspaper will decompose and the roots will not be disturbed during the planting process. Do not plant peas near other legume crops weevils prefer such as clover, vetch, or alfalfa. And don’t forget to provide something for the vines to climb if they are not a dwarf variety!