Thursday, 12 April 2012

planting peas and spinach

It's been such a non-winter that I'm going to take a chance and start planting peas and spinach. Certainly the ground can be worked which is when they always say you can start planting cool weather crops. In fact I think the theme this summer is going to be drought. Railway Creek, which runs along the south border of our property, is already very low and the ground is really quite dry even this early.

Pea support in place
I decided to put the peas in the bed where I've had tomatoes the last two years. As nitrogen-fixers, they should replenish nutrients and restore a little of the fertility. I started out by digging out the poplar roots which have become the (most recent) bane of my existence along the north edge of the bed.  I've spent so many years building up the soil in the vegetable beds I can't bear the thought of giving up on them. My husband, Christopher,  helped move the support for the tall peas into place. Because it is so dry I decided to put semi-frozen manure into the rows hoping as it melts it will add much needed moisture (or alternatively everything will just rot and I'll have to replant!) This weekend I started with Lincoln Homesteader, Sugar Snap, Sugar Lace and Alaska peas and Longstanding Bloomsdale spinach at the foot of the peas.

Over the next few weeks I'll add Laxton's Progress, Little Marvel and Green Arrow peas and Dwarf Grey Sugar for pea shoots and tendrils. There is also a nice purple snow pea called Desiree and a yellow snow pea called Golden. For support for the bush peas I like to use prunings from the highbush cranberry. They're nice and twisty and offer lots of branches for the peas to grab hold and twist their way up.

I find it's a good idea to plant different varieties, both open pollinated heirlooms and hybrids, since various types fare differently in the unpredictable vagaries of the weather. In addition to more of the Bloosmdale spinach I'll also plant Tyee, Space and a lovely hybrid called Bordeaux which has red veins.

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