SUGAR SNAP PEAS: PRACTICALLY FOOLPROOF

Posted: June 25, 2017 in Food, garden
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Successful gardening is a combination of art, science and luck. You can do everything by the book, and one season, Mother Nature will reward you with a bountiful harvest. The next season, when you think you’ve got it all figured out, she’ll give you nothing more than a cluster of dead plants.

That’s why, if there’s such a thing as a foolproof plant, I grow it. Perennials are the perfect example: you plant them once, and they come back year after year, with little or no work, sometimes bigger and stronger with every season. In the vegetable garden, asparagus is one of those delicious, reliable crops that comes back every year. Onions, chives and some herbs are favorites as well.

I’ve grown peas for over 50 years…from my very first gardening season. In my young days, I sowed the standard English peas that everyone is familiar with. Able to withstand cold and damp soil, peas have always been the first to go in the ground. I still go by the old saying: “Plant your peas on St. Patrick’s Day.”

But in the late 60’s, the Sugar Snap pea was introduced. It became an AAS winner in 1979, and later was awarded the most popular vegetable of all time! What made it different from standard peas was that you could eat the entire pod: the peas and the outside shell. They were sweet, they were prolific, and incredibly easy to grow. Once I discovered Sugar Snaps, I grew no other pea.

If you let Sugar Snap pea pods grow to their fullest, you’ll get a nice, plump crunchy pod with sweet, juicy peas on the inside. There’s no need to cook these peas…they’re at their most flavorful when eaten raw, straight off the vine.

Sugar Snap peas in early June: well over 6′ tall!

But what makes Sugar Snaps foolproof is that you can eat them at any point during the growing season. Pick them early, when they’re flat and small, and use them in a stir fry. Wait until they plump up, and they make a refreshing crunchy treat. And when the season ends, when your pea plants start to wither in the summer sun and it’s time to pull the plants out of the ground and toss them in the compost pile, you can still pick off every single tiny pod left on the plants for that last farewell snack.

They say you can grow peas in the fall, but I’ve had limited success. There’s something magical about growing peas in the spring. They’re one of the first plants to grow, when the weather is still cold and damp, tiny green shoots sprouting out of the cold (sometimes snow-covered) soil…a sign of better, warmer, sweeter days to come.

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