Growing Peas on the Kitchen Table


In January of 2018, I responded to a craigslist ad that listed about 60 mason jars and about 200 seed packs for only $60. I knew this was a steal and jumped at the chance. Even without the seeds, the mason jars themselves would have had me out the door at the same speed! I was a little disheartened to find that the seeds were dated for for 2010, 2011, and 2012. Most seeds aren’t viable past 5 years, depending on the vegetable.

But these seeds were sealed in plastic and were organic heirloom varieties, so I had some hope that maybe they might be okay if they were kept in the right conditions all that time. I still wasn’t feeling too positive about them though and wasn’t about to set any sort of high expectations. I figured I might get some to germinate, but after checking the viability of various vegetable seeds, I was uncertain that some would come through at all.

I was eager for spring. January was icy and ugly and I was getting tired of it. So I got some plastic pans out and threw all of the snow peas into the potting soil and set them on the kitchen table. I watered them carefully and checked them daily. After a few weeks, I was shocked. Some little green leaves were working their way out of the soil. The best was yet to come. By the end of the week, I was pretty darn sure that every last seed had germinated.

I was giddy at first. Then I began to realize that I had about 500 pea shoots growing on my kitchen table and it was only February!!! I held off as long as I could, but you can only wait so long before things start to get a bit jungle-like. So I set about making a suitable place for my little snow pea shoots. It was warm enough outside to turn the soil, but I still had to scrape heavy chunks of snowy ice off my garden plot. I put down some fine compost on the turned sod. I didn’t really have the time to be making this into anything spectacular; the peas appeared to be growing at the rate of an inch per day! I swear it seemed like that, anyway!

I brought my peas to the farm in their two plastic flats. At first, I carefully plucked them from the flat and gingerly patted the dirt over their roots. As I looked down the row and saw ever limited space, I began to grab at chunks of soil-containing-peas and slapped them into the row. I was less considerate as I went, realizing just how many peas I had unwittingly grown in the kitchen.

Those may have been some of the most forgiving peas I’ve ever grown. They didn’t do much growing when I first threw them out into the cold. There they sat, waiting for the sun. I put up their support poles and string and they waited. Finally, March 15 rolled around (official estimated spring planting day for this area). The peas also know this as the date they can start growing. So off to the races they went! I had a glorious crop of snow peas that spring. They produced far into the summer and gave me all that they could. It really didn’t seem to matter that I had grown them in the kitchen or thrown them into cold, wet ground. They grew just the same regardless, just as every other year.

Seriously though, just imagine me out in the snow and ice, scraping at the ground to find grass and ground so I can plant peas, in the winter. Yes, I am a crazy farmer. You just don’t know if it will work sometimes, which means you need to do some trial and error. If that makes me crazy, I’m all for it. I’ll try some crazy things and sometimes they truly work out. Other times, it’s a dud. That’s okay though. That’s just the same as a scientist, isn’t it??

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