Question: Some years my early peas do fine, but other years I get nothing. What’s up?
Answer: What’s up or not up may depend on how wet the spring is in your area. The challenge in planting early peas is to get them in the ground while the soil is still cool but not have them sit too long in wet soil. It’s a delicate balance of proper timing and weather conditions. Well-drained, humus-rich soil is a big help. Some years, despite all your best efforts, the seeds will rot before they germinate, requiring a second or even a third planting. The trick is to keep checking them until those first solid rows of sprouts begin to form. Be sure, too, that you don’t fertilize the soil too much. Peas are especially sensitive to too much nitrogen, but they may like a little bonemeal, for the phosphorus content. Try some of the old-fashioned shelling pea varieties, such as ‘Tall Telephone’, ‘Lincoln’, or ‘Little Marvel’, if you can find them. The more modern sugar snap varieties are also worth a try. Be sure to note whether the pea vines will grow so tall that they might need staking or fencing. It would be a shame to lose your crop for lack of proper supports.