Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Pea Supports

I forgot to mention how we're growing the peas. We have three beds sown with snap peas; each has a different trellis system.

Last year, we used bamboo poles and jute twine to create a trellis against the retaining wall that separates the pond from the garden. It worked okay, but the angle of the sun wasn't the best and we didn't get a very steady or heavy crop.

This year, we're using the beds (figuring that the peas will be done by the time we need them for tomatoes and peppers), which should ensure more sun but there's no ready-made wall to brace things against. So we had to take a different approach.

In one bed, we're using the wire grid we tried growing squash up last year (mixed results on the squash growing, but the peas should work. basically it is an open V-shaped wire panel that fits along two edges of the triangular bed. The grid is a 2-inch by 4-inch or so rectangle.

In the second bed (last year's tomato bed), we have some new plastic anti-rabbit fencing with a 2-centimeter square grid. Using tomato stakes, the fencing is making a big rectangle in the center of the bed with the peas being planted around the outside edge. Hopefully the majority of peas will grow on the outside of the square as expected; otherwise, it's going to be difficult to harvest them, I think.

The third bed (last year's peppers and cucumbers) is being done old school. When we visited Monticello a few years ago, the garden had sweat peas growing on branches that had been pruned from the peach orchard. Using pruned branches in itself isn't unheard of, but instead of building a cone from long, relatively straight branches, these prunings were more spread out, for lack of a better way to describe it.

Basically, there was one central bit to the pruning and smaller twigs and branches sticking out from that central bit. The central piece would be set into the garden and the peas would grow up spreading among the twigs and branches to fill out the pruning like a little piece of pea-covered topiary. (I'm not sure this image is working for me, but I'm stumped as to how else to describe it -- I probably should just take a picture.)

So, in the third bed we're trying the Jeffersonian pea thing. We saved some branches the last time we pruned the Bradford pear and panted the peas in a circle around the base of each pruning.

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