Saturday, March 17, 2012

Growing Traditions

Aside from a delicious dinner of corned beef and cabbage, there is one other tradition that I always observe on St. Patrick's Day and it starts by cleaning up the remains of the Winter in a section of the parterre vegetable garden.  And yes, I know Spring has not yet sprung, but I am ever hopeful.

This space works best for the St. Patrick's Day gardening because it is has a corner column and I've also added some bamboo stakes to help hold up the plants-to-be.

I'm talking about peas, of course.  I don't know why it is tradition to plant peas on St. Patrick's Day.  Could it be because they're green?  Maybe because they have to go in early enough to start fruiting before the summer heat hits - they stop fruiting when it gets to be about 75-degrees.  But it is the official start to my gardening season.  Of course, the ones I planted a few years ago in a foot of snow didn't even have the decency to sprout let alone fruit, but this year's warm winter gives me high hopes for some pea pods in a few months.

The pea seeds are...well...they're dried up peas.  They don't seem much different to me than the dried up peas you  buy for pea soup - except maybe they're a bit bigger.

I like to lay them out on top of the soil first, just to make sure they are spread out enough.  Usually you would plant these in rows about 8-inches apart.  I plant mine 2-inches apart in rows that are 4-inches apart.  I absolutely overplant the space.  This does two things: it gives the weeds less room to grow in and it gives me the chance to pull any little runts out of the rows without lowering my potential crop yield.  (Crop yield! Look at me sounding all fancy-farmer-like!!)  

I follow the arc of the space so the peas will (hopefully) fill in the area without spilling over into the parterre pathways.  The clear spacing between the rows is also going to let me get in there to weed as well as let air move around the plants.  This will keep them healthy as they grow.

I used one of the bamboo stakes to push the peas down into the soil 1/2 to 1-inch.  It gives them just enough contact to coax the roots to grow, but not too deep that the leaves get lost on their way up to the surface.  Peas are a pretty little delicate plant, tiny little tendrils and all, so I don't think they'd make it if I buried them down much further.

The little indentations made during the pea planting will smooth out over the next week or so as it rains and the wind moves the bark and leaf bits on the top of the garden bed around.  Since I planted in arcs about 4-inches from the pathway towards the column, I'll know what is a pea seedling and what is a weed when things start sprouting up.  According to the package, on May 23rd, there will be peas ready for harvest.

So the only question I have left to answer is: was I gardening?

Based on the Knee Theory of Gardening, yes.  I was definitely gardening - even if it wasn't that much.

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