Planting Beans and Peas

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I got my first two rows planted last weekend.  It doesn’t sound like much writing that but it felt good to finally make some progress on the main garden.  The last few weeks have been so nice I wish I had started sooner.  Planting Beans and Peas was something I failed at pretty spectacularly last year.  I ran out of room for planting peas so I only planted a handful of plants in a container and they didn’t come out at all (probably due to inattention).  Beans I planted twice and neither crop came up.  The first got washed out with heavy May rains and the second I believe was eaten by something (birds, squirrels, chipmunks?).  I am not sure.

Surviving last year without green beans was brutal since the year before we were flush with them and froze quite a few bags.  Green Beans are also one vegetable Norah will gobble up, so getting them right this year is a necessity.


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I started planting the peas.  I am growing three kinds of peas. They are shelling peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas.  Since I am direct seeding the peas this row will not be covered with landscape fabric.  They will grow around tomato cages for a little support and the areas in the row that will be bare will be covered by newspaper and hay mulch once the plants are established.

I start at the top of the row and place two tomato cages in the ground.  These two will be for snow peas.  The variety is “Oregon Sugar Pod Snow Pea.”  Around the tomato cage I shovel 2 scoops of compost and work it into the soil to mix it up.

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Once the compost is mixed in and the soil is loose I poke 12 holes around the base of the cage and 4 inside.  Those are the 16 holes seeds will be planted in.

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A seed goes into each hole.

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Then the holes are covered and patted down slightly.  Lastly it gets a really good watering and I move onto the next.

Two cages with 16 plants around each for 32 (hopefully) snow pea plants.  Snow peas are new for me, I have never planted them before.

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Next up was 3 cages of “Sugar Daddy Snap Peas” planted the exact same way.  Hopefully 48 snap pea plants will soon have us in a bumper crop of them.  Norah is a fan of the snap pea as well, so I did an extra cage of those.

To finish out the row I planted garden or shelling peas around a little fence.  About 50 plants in all.  I planted “Dark Seeded Early Perfection Peas.”  We eat peas 2-3 times a week- usually frozen peas that are steamed.  We don’t have the space and I don’t have the time to grow, shell, blanch, and freeze as many shelling peas as we eat as a family so these are just a bonus crop.  They are something the kids can shell while I am making dinner for a few nights during the summer.  I never realized how many peas you have to shell to make a dinners worth until I went to a pick-your-own-peas farm a couple years ago.  I spent a whole night shelling them for about a dinner and a half’s worth of peas.  It made frozen peas seem like a really great deal!

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Now for my row of beans.  I planted 3 varieties.  They are pole beans, yellow bush beans, and green bush beans.

I started at the top of the row with the pole beans.  I planted them the same way as the caged peas but I added a tall garden stake into the cage.  Once the plants start climbing I will tie twine from the top of stake to bottom of cage to create a pyramid they can grow up. I haven’t tried this before and I also haven’t successfully grown pole beans so it is another experiment for me.  The top of the stake is only about 5 ft tall so I am a little concerned they will outgrow the pyramid but we will see what happens.

16 “Maine Yellow Eye Pole Beans” around each cage for 32 plants total.

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The bush beans won’t require any support and since they are being directly sown I am not using landscape fabric.  I outlined the beds with fallen branches from the woods behind our house and worked compost into the beds.

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The same as the peas I will poke holes into the ground and fill with a seed before covering back over.  I plant the seeds pretty closely 3-4 inches and if I have to thin a few plants as they grow I will do that.  I have found they do fine planted closely and it keeps weeds from growing up around them.

I planted around 50 “Cherokee Wax Yellow Beans” and 80 “Burpee’s Stringless Green Pod Green Beans.”  Two years ago I almost got 2 full crops of green beans.  I planted one bed in May harvested end of July/August and then pulled the plants and replanted more seeds.  I didn’t get much from second harvest before the fall chills set in, so this year I may try to start a tray of seedling mid July and replant patch 1st of August depending on how they do.  It was a little hard for me to pull plants still producing (even though production had slowed way down) to plant new seeds so I hesitated a few weeks and probably cost myself a lot of green beans!

planting-peas-4It was a good afternoon of planting and I had maniac #2 for help.  Although I legitimately believe Spencer thought I changed his name to “Stop walking on the garden beds!” His use of the garden as a race track has now officially ended with the first few rows planted.

salad greens-1An update on my failed sprouting seeds in paper towel experiment that lead to my planting paper towels with seeds in them experiment.  Four days after planting my containers (paper towels and all) they all seem to be growing!

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All the containers have tiny seedlings poking through the soil now and I feel better about my first failure. Hopefully we will be cutting some baby greens very soon!

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Even my forgotten grocery store Russian Banana potatoes have started sprouting through the soil.  I love it when a plan comes together.


Next up for the garden is tackling my mini greenhouses full of seedlings.  Hopefully this weekend will provide the time to cross off a number of these planting obligations.





Jeff McIntosh

About Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it! They document their journey at Blogging with Apples.