Thursday, January 29, 2009

Alderman Peas (Tall Telephone)

75 days. Climbs a 6-8 foot trellis. The huge pods, each filled with 6-8 peas, are easy to harvest and shell. Alderman's large peas have that finest-of-all flavor and the plant allows many pickings. A late-maturing variety. OP

Pisum sativum: At Territorial, peas are of special value to us. Our region of the country is well adapted to growing peas, and many of the nation's most popular pea varieties, such as Oregon Sugar Pod II, were developed at Oregon State University. At our research farm, we conduct extensive trials to identify the best tasting and most productive offerings for shelling, snap, and edible pod peas.

CULTURE: A cool-season crop, peas will grow in a variety of soils provided the soil is well drained, in full sun, and contains a sufficient amount of organic matter to allow for good moisture retention. Peas may be sown as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. They may be planted without rototilling by scratching out a shallow furrow and covering the seed. Sow seeds 1 inch apart, 1-1 1/2 inches deep, in rows 18-24 inches apart. Thinning is not necessary. Optimum soil temperature for germination: 45-75°F. Days to emergence: 6-14. Coat the seed with an inoculant to increase yields. Inoculant enhances early nitrogen-fixing bacterial nodes on the plant roots. Thinning is not necessary. Side dress plants with one cup of our complete fertilizer per 5 row feet along with 1 cup of bone meal per 10 row feet to foster healthy plants for a bountiful harvest. Climbing varieties must be trellised or planted by a fence. New pole-pea varieties in the US are in decline; the new developments are primarily bush types, which are suitable for mechanical harvest. Most bush-type vines can be supported on a short trellis or allowed to grow as a mound. Stress, such as prolonged hot weather or lack of moisture, will cause a higher percentage of off-type plants and reduced yields. We recommend mulching the roots and frequent ground watering (vs. overhead watering) to help keep the roots cool and productive.
DISEASES: Fusarium wilt (also called pea root rot) causes plant foliage to turn brown from the ground up. This can generally be controlled by crop rotation and sowing on well-drained ground. Choosing resistant varieties and ground watering can control powdery and downy mildews. Areas in the Northwest and Northeast are also prone to attacks of pea enation virus, which is spread by the peach aphids that hatch each summer. The virus causes 'windowing' or a mosaic appearance in the leaves, distortion of the pods, and reduced yields. If pea enation is a problem in your garden, we advise sowing enation-resistant varieties. The best control measures are using disease-free seed, selecting disease-resistant cultivars, and practicing crop rotation.
INSECTS: The pea aphid can be a destructive pea insect pest throughout the summer. Applications of Rotenone or Rotenone-Pyrethrin should be started at the seedling stage if leaf scalloping is observed.
HARVEST: Start checking for maturity as soon as the pods begin to swell. If left on the vine too long, the peas become starchy and the pods become tough. Most bush varieties are bred to mature all at the same time for a concentrated, once-over picking. Extend your harvest through multiple sowings. Store peas at 32°F and at 95% relative humidity.
Pea vine tendrils are an important ingredient in stir-fries, Asian salads, and garnishes. Market gardeners pick the top 6-8 inches of pea vines (tendrils) and sell them in bunches. Cascadia, Oregon Giant and Oregon Sugar Pod II were the favorites in trials conducted at Washington State University Extension.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 80%. Days to maturity are calculated from the date of direct seeding. Usual seed life: 2 years. Approximately 90-165 seeds per ounce (average 125); 8 ounces per 1/2 pound

WHEN TO PLANT: You can sow early, mid-season, and late varieties on the same day, or make successive plantings of pea seeds throughout the cool weeks of early spring, but there's no point in sowing most kinds of peas later than two to three weeks before the frost free date, because the yield of peas maturing in warm weather seldom justifies the space they take. Young plants grow best at 59°F to 68°F. An exception is Wando, a good pea for those who must wait in the spring until their community gardens have been plowed.
For fall peas, plant seeds in later July or early August. Mature pea plants are more easily killed by frost than the hardier seedlings.
To put peas on your table, you must get them in the ground early and to do that you often need to prepare the row in the fall. Some gardeners even plant pea seeds in late fall or during a Feb. thaw. However, although it's safe to plant peas in cold soil, because they can sprout at temperatures as low as 40°F - though it could take them a month to do so - it's not wise to work in the garden while the earth is still heavily sodden. We get around this, here in our garden, by doing a late fall plowing, burying all the mulch and leaves and leaving rough mounds. Frost action pulverizes that exposed soil over the winter, and I find that I can usually get out there with a hoe in early March and pull open a furrow of fairly loose soil, going along the top of a ridge left by the plow, not in the deeper, colder valley between the ridges.
HOW TO PLANT: Shake some garden legume inoculant on the moistened seeds before planting. Plant peas thickly, about one every inch, and cover the seeds with 1- 1.5" of soil. Double rows of peas, spaced about 4-6" apart, make more efficient use of soil space then single rows. Wide rows of peas, up to 3' or so, are even more efficient. At one time, I thinned my peas to stand 2-4" apart, but since I've found that slight crowding doesn't seem to reduce production, I've stopped thinning them. Peas don't transplant well.
GROWING CONDITIONS: Pea roots are weak and small, easily dislodged in weeding, so I usually let some weeds grow, close to the plants, to prevent root damage and also to help share the pea roots, which prefer cooler growing weather. They also need plenty of oxygen, so plants grown in compacted or waterlogged soil will not produce as well as those in well aerated ground. Peas also prefer soil that is not highly acidic. They are fairly drought tolerant until flowering, when their moisture needs increase to an inch a week. The first peas appear about three weeks after blossoming.
STAKING: Except for leafless kinds like Novella, which is pretty much self supporting when grown in a triple row, your peas will need some support, even the low growing ones. Cuttings of brush that have lots of twigs are excellent for all kinds of peas and the best choice for wide rows. For tall growing vines like Sugar Snap and Mammoth Melting Sugar, grown in single rows, I supplement the brush with binder twine strung the length of the row between three steep polls. Netting, chicken wire, garden fencing and string supported by stakes are also successfully used by many gardeners.

More info on growing peas
PURCHASED: 1oz from Territorial Seed Co. Jan '09. $1.85
DIRECT SEEDED: 03/13/09, inoculated and direct seeded. Sprouted on 03/29/09. 16 days - seemed like forever! 04/07/09: Only about 1/4 of the seeds I planted sprouted. I dug up the duds to see what was going on - looks like they turned to rotten mush. We've had quite a bit of rain since I planted them. The good news is now I'll have a staggered planting for a staggered harvest. I'll go and replace the one's that haven't come up later this week. Reseeded on 04/10/09.



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