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Thursday, February 24, 2011

It is Time (almost) for Container Peas

It's time. Well almost time to plant peas. Peas are a cool weather crop. They can take a chill and a light freeze. If you are planting peas you have to make sure your garden is not frozen and not soggy. This can take some time in Maryland. Usually March 15, is the time peas and cold weather crops can get in the ground.

The alternative is to use containers. They can be planted March 1st, if the nights look like they will be above 30 degrees. Containers need to have drainage. You don't want soggy soil or the peas will rot. Below is a link to 18 gallon container gardening. I use it for tomato plants when the weather warms up. I use them for peas before the tomatoes. It is a great way to boost nitrogen in you soil, come time for tomato planting. Peas fix nitrogen to their roots from the atmosphere. So, back to peas, what do you need to plant peas in containers?

You need pea seeds, a container that has a 12 inch diameter minimum, and something for the peas to climb on. You also need a minimum of 6 hours of full sunlight. The more sun the better.  Plant 4 seeds in the container equally spaced apart. The container can manage 3 plants. If all four plants sprout, remove the weakest plant. You will need a small tomato cage if available or 3 sticks that are about 4 feet high. If you are only using a 12 inch diameter container, this might look overwhelming. Place the sticks against the sides of  the container to form a triangle. Push them to the bottom and tie the tops together to form a tee-pee. Each plant should be trained up a post.

In the above example you are only using three seeds because the depth of the above container is usually also 12 inches. If you plant in larger containers that have 24 inches or more depth, you can plant the seeds 2 inches apart. In this case you might need additional sticks for the peas to grow on. Tending peas is easy. Just make sure the soil doesn't dry out in your containers and you will have a full crop of peas in no time. You can also tuck some lettuce plants in the container. One or two per 12 inch pot. Again more lettuce can be placed in containers with greater depth of soil. I'll address lettuces later.

Link to 18 gallon container gardening:
http://knol.google.com/k/how-to-grow-tomatoes-in-an-18-gallon-storage-container-in-pictures#

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