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Pea germination problem  RSS feed

 
Rw Wood
Posts: 18
Location: Seneca Falls, NY
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Last year i grew snow peas and they did quite well. At the end of the season, I let a bunch grow until the pods were filled out and dry, then picked and shelled them for this year's seed. Of course in the process, some fell on the ground and shortly germinated and grew right up through the straw mulch they had fallen into. I packed the seed I saved in a vacuum sealable zip lock bag and put them in the basement until I planted them this Spring. To my consternation, not one of them came up. Does anyone have any idea what happened here?

Thanks.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2341
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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At my place, the main things that harm pea seeds during storage are (invertebrate) animals, too much humidity, and/or too much heat...

A weevil lays it's eggs on the pea seeds, and they mature inside the dried peas and eat out the center of the pea. Then the pea doesn't germinate, or it germinates weakly. Eventually, the bugs chew out of the seeds and leave little round holes.

Before storage the seed should be dry enough that it shatters when hit with a hammer. If it smashes it's still too damp.

I grow seed crops of about 55 species. Peas are the hardest one for me to grow with high germination rates. I feel inadequate about the peas every year.

 
Galadriel Freden
Posts: 358
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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I'm with Joseph; direct seeding is very unsuccessful for me. Not only are pea shoots delectable to all sorts of bugs and slugs, rodents and birds love them too. I'm only growing in a small suburban lot so I can afford to sow them in trays and transplant out. I generally save toilet paper tubes, and roll sheets of newspaper into tubes to sow into--peas and beans have long roots and don't like them disturbed, so little modular seed trays aren't ideal. Or you can put out some sort of barrier to protect the seeds in the ground, like upturned plastic soda bottles with their necks cut off, or some other sort of cloche. Good luck!

 
Krystelle Ellaby
Posts: 28
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Hi, there are so many variables when it comes to seed saving and propagation. I'll list some of the more common things that can go wrong, but this isn't intended to be a lecture, or a "you have to do what i say" thing I work in a nursery and do this kind of troubleshooting for a living, I can't help myself from "helping".
I'm assuming your seeds weren't eaten by a pest of some sort, when birds or rats get into seed beds it's really obvious, all the seeds are dug up, some are left scattered around, half eaten and they really make mess. Peas are too big for ants to carry away.

I'm not sure what the weather's been like where you are, but peas, especially snow peas, really don't do well in heat and humidity, usually if this is the case, they will just rot in the ground, and if you dig down you'll find a mushy pea or two, or just the husks will be left. They are also frost tender. They like between 13C and 18C, which is about 55F to 65F. They also like a slightly alkaline soil, so I would suggest doing a PH test. It's a really good idea to prepare the soil with compost, rock minerals, (and lime if you think it's necessary) before you put them in, and make sure that they aren't planted where pea family plants were grown last season. Rotation is usually "leggy, (legumes), leafy, (annual herbs, greens etc,) fruity, (solanums, cucurbits etc), rooty, (root vegetables)", but I think as long as you just put some distance between this year's and last year's space, you are fine. You can also try planting the seeds in a few different spots. At home, I don't prepare a special bed, I just pop handfuls of peas and beans here and there, next to a fence, or obliging tree and let them go. The season is so short here in the subtropics, we usually just end up eating the vine tips and if we are lucky we get a dozen pods per vine

Usually, seed saving is the way to go, after a few generations you have a variety that is genetically programmed to do well in your soil and climate. There might be a problem though if the seed you first used was an F1 hybrid variety. Seed saved from F1 seeds isn't bad as such, but the seed saved from it will have unreliable germination and may not reproduce 'true to type'. You will get a more reliable result if the seed is locally saved, open pollinated (OP) and/or heirloom. The seed companies usually have this information plastered all over the front because it's a strong selling feature, if it's F1 hybrid, they will put it on the back, in the fine print, or not at all. The absolute, best, top secret advice I can give you, is to see if you can find a nice old lady, who has been growing peas in her yard for decades, from seeds her grandmother gave to her mother, (make sure to offer to chop wood and listen to some stories in exchange for your magic beans.)

Another thing that may have happened is the seed got cooked somehow, (left in the car, stored in an uninsulated attic etc), or got a fungus or mildew from getting damp. You can store seeds, after they are really dry, but don't dry them in a dehydrator or in the sun. After they are dry, put them in glass jars, with a handful of rice and diatomaceous earth, then store that jar in a cool, dark spot. I have an esky I store my seeds in. And don't forget to date and label your seeds!! To me, all peas look the same, all brassicas look the same, chillies and capsicums look the same, you get the idea.
Anyway, I hope you have better success next time.
 
Roy Archibald
Posts: 2
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If I have seeds that don't come up I dig around and see if the seed is still in the ground. Last year I had trouble with pack rats, this year it is birds and mice taking the seed. The mice and rats can be trapped, the best way I have found to discourage the birds is to cover the area until the plants get larger.
 
Rw Wood
Posts: 18
Location: Seneca Falls, NY
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Thanks to all who responded. From the info that was given, I think that the problem could be I got them in the ground too late (very wet Spring) and then continued to have rain. I've never had much problem with peas of any kind before so I was really surprised when these didn't come up. Maybe I'll try them this Fall in the hoop house.

Thanks again.
 
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