March 14, 2013
Try growing peas using a pea brush. Here's how! Photo by Jessica Walliser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser
The end of March means it’s time to plant peas, my favorite crop!

It’s nearly pea-planting time! One of my favorite homegrown veggies, peas find a spot in my garden each and every year. Because they’re cool-season crops, they’re among the first seeds to be planted each spring. If the weather cooperates, I try to have them planted by the end of March. I wrote an article for the March/April 2012 issue of Hobby Farms about growing peas and especially enjoyed learning about all the varieties I have yet to grow.

This will surely be the year of “experimental peas” in my own garden as I plan to grow at least two different varieties of each type of pea (shell, snap, and snow), as well as growing some for fresh shoot production.

In the article, I mentioned the age-old technique of supporting pea vines by using pea brush. It’s formed by inserting overlapping, branched twigs into the ground down the length of a row of peas so that the tendrils have something to grasp and climb. I didn’t get to mention, however, how truly beautiful this staking technique really is. I first saw it in action on a childhood visit to Colonial Williamsburg, where, according to Wesley Greene, the historic trades gardener there, they try to have their peas in the ground by George Washington’s birthday.

Pea brush is a natural staking method that is at home in nearly every garden setting—from formal to cottage. The brush can be created using whatever types of twigs you have on hand and the height of the brush is determined by the mature height of the particular pea variety you are growing. Six-foot-tall sugar snap varieties will obviously require taller, sturdier branches, while an 18-inch-tall selection will only need a 2-foot-tall line of brush. I plan to construct some “pea brush” of my own over the coming weeks, and I look forward to seeing all the tasty results!

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