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Growing Peas Naturally

 
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Making this thread to document growing peas naturally with minimal work and maximum harvesting I hope.

Hopefully it'll be helpful to others also!
 
Steve Thorn
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The first pea flower of the year.

I probably planted the peas way too late this year, but they are still thriving despite it being above 90 degrees F a few days recently.

Pea flowers have such a simple and elegant beauty to me.
First-pea-flower-of-the-year-in-May.jpg
First pea flower of the year in May
First pea flower of the year in May
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:Making this thread to document growing peas naturally with minimal work and maximum harvesting I hope.

Hopefully it'll be helpful to others also!



Hey steve

I am interested in what you mean when you say growing peas naturally with minimal work. What have you done to these peas?

Naturally being a confusing word these days...

My peas this year required me to pre-sprout them inside. They went outside in February. I did manage to fertilize the soil a few weeks before hand. I sprinkled the fertilizer on top and than mixed it in with a digging fork. no actually digging just mixing. And aside from the occasional watering this spring, there have been very little done to them. I have needed to tie them to the trellis i am using because they always seem to pancake and fold in half.

IMG_0465.JPG
They are growing at the back of my barley bed :D
They are growing at the back of my barley bed :D
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[Thumbnail for IMG_0466.JPG]
IMG_0467.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_0467.JPG]
 
Steve Thorn
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jordan barton wrote:Hey steve

I am interested in what you mean when you say growing peas naturally with minimal work. What have you done to these peas?

Naturally being a confusing word these days...



Hey Jordan!

Great photos, really enjoyed seeing them!

Yeah definitely, I'll elaborate on what I've done, or "not done" may be more accurate.

All I've done so far is plant the seeds, that's it!

My peas this year required me to pre-sprout them inside. They went outside in February.  



I direct sowed the pea seeds outside, sometime in February or March I think, just scattering the seeds on the mounds where my fruit trees are growing. I scattered most of the seed focusing on areas that were higher on the mound with well draining soil, but the ones growing on lower areas of the mound and even near the base have all been doing pretty equally well, and I haven't noticed a difference, if any between them. I figure that I'm selecting for some that like really well draining soil at the top of the bed, and those that like a little more moist soil that are growing near the bottom of the mound.

I found that they sprouted well, even with not being covered in soil, as I just scattered the seed and didn't do anything else. I was surprised of how good of germination and survival rate they had, probably 25% at least I would guess. That probably doesn't sound very high, but it was my first year growing peas, so the seed weren't adapted to my growing area, and weren't adapted to being directly sown or grown in such harsh conditions either. I expect to have close to normal germination and survival rates going forward, as the offspring should be much more vigorous and adapted to my area.

I did manage to fertilize the soil a few weeks before hand. I sprinkled the fertilizer on top and than mixed it in with a digging fork. no actually digging just mixing.



I haven't put anything on these peas. A lot were planted in pretty poor sandy soil, and those seem to actually be doing the best. I'm guessing since peas fix nitrogen they probably thrive in poor soils.

And aside from the occasional watering this spring, there have been very little done to them.



These peas have just been watered from rainfall. I haven't watered any of my plants this year, except for perennials, when I transplant them I give them a good first watering to help them get established, but that's the last watering that they'll get from me.

The key things I think to not having to ever water annuals, are direct sowing them, planting them thickly, and never watering them at all.

I have needed to tie them to the trellis i am using because they always seem to pancake and fold in half.

Most of my peas are growing very close to other plants, and some have trellised up nearby plants or even other pea plants. I haven't tied any of them or provided any trellis for them.



I'm hoping to breed super tough varieties for all of my plants, by saving the seed from the ones that can survive and thrive, that can sprout from being directly sown by scattering the seed, that dont have to be watered, that can grow up quickly and vigorously alongside other plants, that are resistant to local pests and diseases, and that produce tasty harvests.

I've saved seed before, but this year is definitely the toughest I've been on the plants. I'm sure a lot will die and probably a lot already have died.

I had good success with my cooler crops, but for my summer crops, I planted them on bare soil from recent earthworks without looking at when it was going to rain to water them, and the critters and bugs came out with the warm weather which I think also got some of the seed. A few survived, but not very many. Thankfully I had saved half of my seed and just recently replanted them this week right before this big rain. I also laid some branches on the ground for my growing areas to hide and protect a little from birds and bigger critters, along with some broken down twigs and wood to make it a little harder on the bugs.

I give weekly video updates on my YouTube channel, where you can see the progression of the peas I've been growing. My YouTube Channel

Looks like your peas are doing well, hopefully we'll both be harvesting some soon!
 
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Hello fellow pea-growers! I'm glad I found this thread. I'm also a first-time pea grower. I planted "black badger peas", a North English old variety that tastes delicious (the dried peas are similar to chicpeas, but nuttier and just tastier). Since I only had a handful of seeds I'm trying to maximise their survival to seed so I'm giving them the helicopter parent treatment. I started off germinating them indoors (with the moist paper towel treatment) and all of them sprouted. Then I planted most of them in pots on the sunny balcony where they seem to be really thriving. I planted others in the soil on a shadier terraced bed that only gets sun for a few hours in the morning. Those have also grown but are clearly striving towards the light. I've just transplanted a third batch to our little neighbourhood vegetable patch, in order to spread the risk, but that's basically in the forest and we'll see if they get enough sun there.
Mine are now about 30-35 cm tall and seem to be struggling to stay upright so I wanted to see what you're doing for pea support. Glad to see that you can just shore them up with a line of string.
Where I live the question isn't winter/spring, but dry season/rainy season. It's dry (and cold) from about November to March, and the rainy season starts in May, so May was the time to plant... in case anyone thinks I'm running really late with this.
Do let me know if there are any future risks (slugs?) that I can guard against!
 
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Emilia Andersson wrote:Mine are now about 30-35 cm tall and seem to be struggling to stay upright so I wanted to see what you're doing for pea support. Glad to see that you can just shore them up with a line of string.



My preference is to let them grow up along other things growing beside it. If there isn't anything growing next to it, you can let some "weeds" grow up alongside it, which is what I've done for the most part this year, and it's worked really well. The diversity of plants, and having a living mulch should decrease pests and help improve the soil as well. You can trim back the weeds some if necessary, but mine have been outcompeting the majority of the weeds growing nearby.

The easiest thing for now may be to just let them creep along the ground or trellis up each other until some other things grow up near them, which is what some of mine have done, if that is convenient for the area they are in.

Another option is to stick a twiggy stick or limb in the ground beside them and lay some on the ground beside the peas also. This is super fast and easy, and has worked really good for me so far.

You can use string if needed. If so, I'd go with a natural fiber string if possible, that will break down into the soil after about a year or so.

Do let me know if there are any future risks (slugs?) that I can guard against!



Mine have been pretty pest free so far, especially after getting established. Slugs have preferred eating the seeds and very small plants. Having a polyculture of all kinds of diverse plants growing around them is the best protection that I've seen so far!



Hoped this has helped a little bit. Would love to see pictures of your pea plants or hear how they turn out! Good luck!
 
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A few years ago I worked at a micro green farm as the grower. Come to think of it I was their only employee! That’s where I developed my love of Austrian winter pea. If you’ve seen my post before you know how much I’ve grown to love them. But there are others. I always grew cowpeas for summer cover. I simply grew the cheapest variety around. One year I happened upon Coat and Jacket peas and was hooked. The amount of vines and leaves left the others looking pitiful in comparison. I save seeds every year to replant. Today I soaked some and tossed them into the biomass left by my winter pea. That’s the only time I’ve ever soaked peas. From working at that greenhouse I know best practice is to soak. Not only peas but sunflowers and corn too! I am trying pintos in a slightly better than hard pan area that’s never been worked. I mowed the area short then planted. Amaranth, pintos first followed by another short mowing to stunt the grass before my seeds germinated. After they reached a foot tall gourds and cowpeas went in. I’m using the gourds to shade the soil. Hoping that my timing has been right and the cowpeas get above the gourds. Cover crops, especially peas have been amazing for me. The season doesn’t matter either, there’s a pea for it.
 
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That's neat about all the cover crops Scott.

I had really good germination without having to soak the peas. Just tossed them in some open areas, and the soil was packed in most places, and I was expecting very few to come up, but they ended up coming up really well!
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:
My preference is to let them grow up along other things growing beside it. If there isn't anything growing next to it, you can let some "weeds" grow up alongside it, which is what I've done for the most part this year, and it's worked really well. The diversity of plants, and having a living mulch should decrease pests and help improve the soil as well. You can trim back the weeds some if necessary, but mine have been outcompeting the majority of the weeds growing nearby.


I've poked some sticks for them to climb up and will plant the last ones next to a tallish "carisa" mini-tree. And some of them are already shaded by a dock plant. I've planted some root vegetable seedlings - possibly parsnip or swede - next to the ones in the terraced bed, and hopefully the cempasuchil (marigold) will come up next to them too.
 
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In N. California my peas are done.  We love peas, so I grow peas in most of my raised beds.  When the peas were done I chop and drop the peas. Even though it's too hot I have lots of peas growing in amongst my other veggies.  True naturally growing peas. I didn't plant them, and I give them no care. It doesn't really count because I probably won't get peas we can eat, but I'm happy to have them helping the other veggies grow.  I love peas, happy growing.
 
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Hello! Update on my black badger peas sowed in March 2020: they all died. The ones in the vegetable beds got eaten by slugs. The ones in pots on my sunny balcony grew like anything at first. Then I left them in the care of an (agroecologist) neighbour and went away for two months. During that time it rained in torrents. When I got back the plants looked OK but there were only about four flowers on the ten or so plants, each measuring 2-3 m. Only one of them started developing a tiny pod. But at that point the stem snapped. No survivors.
It looked as if the plants were starting to decay from the soil up - not rot exactly but dry up.
Any ideas about what happened?
Thanks for helping give peas a chance!
Emilia
 
Steve Thorn
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Sorry to hear your peas struggled this year.

It sounds like maybe root rot possibly from all the water or maybe a fungal wilt.

Mine thrived in the cooler weather but started to fizzle out when the heat arrived and with the added disease pressure at that time. I had a few plants that seemed to be more disease resistant and heat tolerant and was able to save a few seeds from them, so I hope the plants get even better next year.

Hope your next pea plants do well!
 
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My mate had some groundcover cowpeas growing last year. They formed a thick carpet. I found they tasted just like my sugar snaps.
When the occasion occured and they were dry on the vines i took home a couple of hundred. I have sown them together with the remaining few sugar snaps that had struggled last year for survival at my land for some reason.
People say about plant that do well, easily that’s just animal fodder. Just because farmers can put whole parcels full of it and harvest it with a machine to give to animals doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good to us. There is always room for improvement, but if a plant grows well with decent taste the animal in me is happy it’s growing.
 
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Thanks for the sympathy Steve! Yeah, I understand that 2020 brought 2.4 METERS of rain to our town and all agricultural bets were off. I'm a bit peeved though because my peas were a heritage variety from Yorkshire and because of Brexit the seeds are suddenly subject to all sorts of SPSS regulations and can't legally be posted to my home country. I have a guerrilla-minded Brit friend who's willing to try mailing rebel peas to me, so I rely on her goodwill and the regulatory lethargy of the EU postal services for any future attempt.  

Steve Thorn wrote:Sorry to hear your peas struggled this year.

It sounds like maybe root rot possibly from all the water or maybe a fungal wilt.

Mine thrived in the cooler weather but started to fizzle out when the heat arrived and with the added disease pressure at that time. I had a few plants that seemed to be more disease resistant and heat tolerant and was able to save a few seeds from them, so I hope the plants get even better next year.

Hope your next pea plants do well!

 
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