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daimonic_gw

Sugar Snap Peas

daimonic
15 years ago

Hi all,

I'm pretty new here, so please be kind. I'm also new to Colorado, and to trying to garden in the tiny plod of land behind my townhome. (used to 4 acres in New England!)

My specific question regards Sugarsnap peas, which I acquired from Botanical Interests seeds in Broomfield, CO. I don't really know what I was thinking at the time, but I planted about 20 seeds in jiffy pots on March 20. (I am growing these all in containers, two 20 inch by 8 inch by 8 inchers). Somehow, I had a 100% germination rate, and now I have 20 4-5 inch tall pea plants with multiple leaves that are looking ready to start twining themselves around a trellis. I'm concerned about keeping them indoors (mainly because they're almost touching the floro lights in my seedling starter area). I had no idea this variety grew so quickly! The packet directions state that you should plant "in early spring, as soon as soil can be worked and soil temps are above 40 degrees."

Is it safe to move these babies into their permanent home? I realize that I could bring the containers inside if we still have an infamous Colorado spring blizzard, but the idea of moving a trellis or two inside doesn't sound at all appealing or practical.

Another question that I have regards some reading I've been doing, that recommends treating the soil with inoculant granules, and mixing in some bone meal to the potting soil before you transplant (yes, I know transplanting is not recommended, but this is the situation I've gotten myself into). Does anyone have an opinion on that?

Sorry for the long post, I hope someone can help me with these newbie questions!!! Thanks

Comments (15)

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Would WE be mean! ***evil laugh***

    Hi daimonic,

    Seriously, this is friendliest forum Ive ever seen, so this is definitely the place for you to be asking questions. IÂm sure lots of folks will chime in with their opinions. I sympathize with you in the loss of your LARGE, good soil garden in New England. Methinks youÂre in for culture shockÂor is that gardenerÂs shock!

    I know what you were thinking when you planted the peas! You wanted to see something growingÂlike we all do! See the Snow and Spinach thread for lots of information. It gets into peas and other cool season crops too. Ideally you should have planted them directly out into the ground at the time you started them inside, but since theyÂre already growing, I recommend putting them outside to harden them off this week and then planting them in the big potsÂif I understand you correctly. The weather for the next couple nites should be above freezing, which will get them hardened off (youÂre in Ft. Collins, arenÂt you?), and then it looks like it could get into the upper 20's on Tuesday nite up there, and they should be fine by thenÂbut if youÂre worried about them, cover them with an old towel or sheet (not plastic), and just leave them outside. DonÂt bring them back into the house. When theyÂre hardened off, peas can take very cold temperatures. And getting them out into the cold weather should slow them down a little bit. If you hear them screaming the first nite, do a little tough love and ignore them! AndÂLOLÂI think youÂre the first person IÂve ever heard who almost sounds like theyÂre disappointed with 100% germination! Your thumb must be very green indeed!

    One other comment on growing things inside! If you switch from grow-lites to cool white fluorescent (are your fixtures fluorescent or incandescent?), you can leave the plants grow up into and around the bulbs, and they wonÂt burn. At my one house I had big tables with 8 fluorescent shop lites hanging over them, and some of the plants were growing all around the fixtures and lites and up the chains they were hung on. Cool while works really well for growing, and wonÂt hurt anything. And theyÂre cheaper than gro-lites too!

    One other thing! If theyÂre in peat pots, when you transplant them, be sure none of the tops of the pots are sticking out of the soil when youÂre done. If they do, they can wick the water to the surface where it dries outÂit effectively takes the moisture from in the peat pot, where the roots need it, and sucks it away. So just break off any pieces of peat pot that would be sticking out. If you donÂt want to "waste" the peat pieces, just push them down into the soil where it can help hold a little extra moisture. You might even want to break up the bottoms of the pots a little bit so the roots can get through more easily.

    Are you referring to legume innoculant? I just sprinkle some of that on top of the seeds after I put them in the ground before I cover them up. I guess you could mix it in the soil right around where the roots will be growing when you transplant them. IÂm not sure about that one. As I understand it, as long as itÂs in the soil where the roots can get it, it will work. I donÂt use bone meal, so I donÂt really have an opinion about it! I rarely fertilize anything in my veggie gardenÂbut itÂs in the ground. If youÂre using a bagged potting mix with no fertilizer mixed in already, you might want to get Osmokote or one of the other time released fertilizers and sprinkle a little on topÂbut I wouldnÂt fertilize them until the weather is a little more consistently warmÂmaybe early May. You donÂt want themÂor anythingÂto be growing too fast right now yetÂjust in case it really does get COLD again.

    AndÂdonÂt apologize for the long post! Wait till you see some of mineÂand a few other people around hereÂyou know who you are!!!

    If you have anymore questions after reading the "spinach" thread, let us know.

    WeÂre glad to have you here at RMG,
    Skybird

  • digit
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    According to the U of Minnesota, Daimonic, pea seed will take 36 days to sprout in 41°F soil. That may be shell peas they were testing altho' you'd have to wonder why they didn't rot after over a month! Snow peas would be a better choice with such cold soil temperatures.

    Sugar Snap peas were quite an accomplishment. They were like an entirely new vegetable when they showed up about 25-30 years ago. I think you were showing your appreciation for them by starting them indoors and intending to grow them in containers.

    Sugar Snap are pretty darn vigorous growers, as you are noticing. They also grow quite tall (maybe over 6 feet) and may turn out to be a bit of trouble for you in containers. The 8" soil depth is quite shallow. You'll want to have a really good moisture retaining mix and maybe even a shallow pan to put under the planters to hold a little additional water during the driest part of their season.

    Peas benefit from phosporous but that component of bone meal may not be released very easily. I use complete organic fertilizers made with bone meal plus a lot of other "things." I think the other "things" help decompose the bone meal more quickly so that its nutrients become available to the plants the first season. Under some conditions, bones fossilize . . . not exactly what the gardener is hoping for. Bone meal is sometimes steamed (cooked) but not always.

    Remember to handle your transplants carefully when moving them to the planters. I've never transplanted peas but understand that they don't like to be disturbed. Jiffy pots were a good choice.

    Best of luck,

    Steve

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  • rwaldheim
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Quick follow up question - do you need to soak sugar snap peas before planting? I've read a couple of books and the packet instructions.. but its not clear. My first year gardening in Denver, and my first year growing peas...

  • cnetter
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "do you need to soak sugar snap peas before planting?"

    I've heard many a debate on this, so you may get a variety of answers.

    I soak mine and get very good germination.

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    And I dont soak mine, and I get good germination too, so hows that for a confusing answer between the two of us! Maybe soak part of them and dont soak some this year and see what seems to work best for you.

    Welcome to RMG and Denver, rwaldheim. Glad to see another new face around here,
    Skybird

  • daimonic
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "do you need to soak sugar snap peas before planting?"

    On the Sugarsnap pea package instructions that I used, it says to soak them for 24 hours in water. I didn't do this and I had a 100% germination rate. YMMV by what brand of seed you get, I suppose, but I don't think it matters at all if you use Botanical Interests' seeds.

    -----------------------

    I love this forum, I get so much good advice, thank you thank you thank you!!!!

    I went out and bought a trellis from walmart that's about 6 ft high and 4ft wide, made of (cheap) wood, and I'm planning to use it for my peas. It's hard to describe, but I have a fenced in backyard with about 6.5ft slat wooden fences. I've been evaluating the sunlight that my yard gets, and am going to plant them in a "part sun" location...

    As for the physical planting, I plan to plant the peas in two planter boxes, 2 inches apart, so probably 10 pea plants per box, and train them up the trellis which will lean up against one of the fences in my yard. I'm not particularly attached to the planter boxes, for any reason other than I got them for .25 cents a piece during a garden center's "spring cleaning" sale. I haven't taken exact measurements of the boxes, so those are my estimates.

    What do you think the minimum soil depth for sugarsnaps should be? I didn't think they'd be super heavy root producers. (I don't really have a reason to think this, lol)

    For my soil mixture, I just bought the cheap potting mix called Hyponex, and plan to mix other things, such as bone meal, inoculant, etc. into it. Digit mentioned that I need a moisture-retaining mix -- now bearing in mind that I'm new to even thinking about things like this, what would my fellow rocky mountain gardener's suggest mixing into the store-bought soil? (Oh forgot to mention, I do have shallow pans to go under the planter boxes)

    also, @ Digit:: "I use complete organic fertilizers made with bone meal plus a lot of other "things."" Would you be so kind as to suggest a brand name that I might be able to easily find? In the past I've used Earth Juice products when I'm watering plants to feed them, but I've never bought anything other than lime to mix into my soil before planting.

    I've been taking your advice, Skybird and leaving them outside during the day and moving them into a shed where temps are about 40 degrees at night. Guess what? These things are seriously about 9 inches tall right now. I'm going out of my mind! LOL I need to get these babies into their permanent home soon!

    Thanks EVERYONE for your advice, I really appreciate it. By the way, I was looking up some info on different store bought potting mixes, and found an interesting link, which I'm including below.

  • daimonic
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi again, sorry for the double post, but I don't know how to go back and edit!

    I was just reading the inside of the Sugarsnap packet, and regarding optimal growing, it says:

    "Soil MUST be well-drained, roots must stay cool; when temperatures begin to warm, mulch soil surface to keep them cool. WATER: evenly moist, but roots must not become water-logged. A little extra water when the temperatures start to warm up will keep pea quality good."

    It also says "Fertilizer: Not necessary, peas are a legume and produce their own nitrogen. A pre-planting application of bone-meal (phosphorus) is recommended."

    With all that in mind, what do you folks recommend that I do for the soil mixture? What helps drain soil? Is there another way of putting phosphorus into my soil that's more effective/better than bone-meal?

    Sorry for so many posts and so many questions!

  • digit
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Interesting note from the extension agent on potting soils, Diamonic. She didn't have good things to say about your Hyponex . . .

    She also criticized Black Gold Organic and I must admit that it was a come down from the All-Purpose when I decided that I need to be serious about organic vegetable production. Still, I get by okay and the plants receive additional fertilizer. I think that is the limitation for the organic - readily available fertilizer is not really there.

    Soil depth for the snap peas - I can't find anything on growing snap peas in containers . . . The variety you've started is such a vigorous one, however, Diamonic.

    By "things" in the fertilizer I meant things like this: Dried Poultry Waste, Bone Meal, Blood Meal, Feather Meal, Soybean Meal, Sulfate of Potash, Alfalfa Meal, and Kelp Meal. These are the ingredients in Whitney Farms Tomato & Vegetable Food (4-5-3). I must admit to using a good deal of their organic lawn food (8-2-4) in the vegetable gardens but I'm growing lots of greens. (Do you suppose that I confuse the veggies so that they develop unnatural fears at the sound of a lawnmower? ;o) I've also never been much afraid of too much nitrogen as long as it is applied early in the season. Finally, my "petrified" compost is darn coarse and without much value for nutrients - high carbon ratio.

    Bone meal has nitrogen also and Whitney Farms refers to theirs as being a "long-lasting source of phosphorus." It's that long-lasting part I'm complaining (mildly) about. For a quick crop like peas, it would be nice if the phosphorus doesn't become available sometime in the next decade.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Steve

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi daimonic,

    Are the 20 X 8 X 8 boxes youre talking about planting the peas in window box type boxes? 20" long by 8" wide and deep? Thats not going to be a lot of soil for planting something like peas in, but if you use a good quality mix, you may be able to do it. If you have Hyponex, I real seriously recommend you go out and buy something else. I had always heard that Hyponex was no good, but until I read your link, I never knew it has sedge peat in it. Thats pretty much equivalent to planting something in sludge. Since you dont have much space and wont be able to plant very much, you want to do everything you can to be sure what you can put in does well, and having good soil is the most important thing you can do to be successful. You should be able to buy good potting soils in large bags at any "real" garden center," and its usually not all that expensive. And youll be able to use it over and over, so its not like wasted money. I use Sunshine Mix for everything, which I buy by the bale at a garden center. A bale can last 2 to 3 years, and I think it cost something between $20 and $30. But a couple big bags should be plenty for you. Sunshine has all different kinds of mixes that they sell in bales, and Im not sure what they sell in bags, but Im sure whatever it is, its a good, basic mix that will work for pretty much anything.

    The reason you need a "good" mix is because roots need both water and oxygen. With a mix that has sedge peat in it, it will stay saturated, excluding the oxygen, and the roots will rot. A good mix, with a lot of Canadian sphagnum peat will hold the moisture, but allow excess water to drain off. Analogize it to a sponge! If you saturate it and lay it on the edge of something, the extra water will run out of it, but it will stay wet. Thats what you want your potting mix to do.

    I think you mentioned up above that you have the trays that go under your boxes. DONT use them. If theres water standing in them, the soil will also stay saturated. With such a small volume of soil, youll probably need to water them every, or at least every other day, but thats a completely different animal than keeping the "saucer" full of water.

    And the heat could definitely be a problem. Thats why I was suggesting putting them where theyd get the morning sun if you can. Afternoon sun is going to heat them up a lot more, and since the boxes are above ground and exposed to ambient temperatures, theyre already going to be warmer than something planted in the ground. Anything you can do to insulate the soil from the heat, or reflect the sun away from it will help some.

    Regarding the phosphorus, the easiest way to quickly add phosphorus is to use a "blossom booster" fertilizer. If youre not familiar with fertilizers, they all have an "analysis" on the package. Thats 3 numbers somewhere on the package that tell you how much of what nutrients are in that particular fertilizer. The middle number is the amount of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the stuff that promotes blooms, and, subsequently, fruit and seeds. Nitrogen is the stuff that promotes lots of green foliageandI can never remember exactly what good potash isbut it is!!! (Im sure some of the chemists around here will have something to add about potash!) Since potting mixes dont contain ANY fertilizer (unless you buy one that has some added), youll probably need to use something, and, as far as Im concerned, using a water soluble fertilizer is the easiest way to do it. So buy a small package of any "high middle number" fertilizer that you can dissolve inusually a gallon ofwater, and water the peas with it. I use 20-20-20 for everything! I like things simple! ;-) And for most of my life I used Peters brand, but then Peters was bought out by MiracleGro and (wonder of wonders) the quality deteriorated, so "Peter," who had sold his companyand his nameto MiracleGro, started to make his original product againthis time calling it Jacks! So now I buy Jacks! When it was Peters, he used to have different formulations, including a blossom booster, but Im not sure if Jacks does or notif you can find it, I recommend it. If you cant, get almost any brandexcept MiracleGro! MiracleGro falls pretty much into the same category as Hyponex in my opinion. I dont know that using this type of phosphorus would be anymore "effective" than bone meal, but its simple to use, and faster acting than bone meal. (As Steve says, you want it sooner than in the next decade!)

    Heres a blurb about fertilizer formulations I copied:

    What do the numbers really mean?
    The first thing to understand when selecting fertilizers is the chemical composition code labeled on the container. These numbers are almost always listed as a sequence of 3 numbers, such as 30-10-10, or 10-50-10.
    NITROGEN (N) - The first number in the sequence specifies the nitrogen content of the fertilizer. and is given as a percentage. Nitrogen promotes vegetative growth in plants.
    PHOSPHORUS (P) - The second number in the sequence specifys the phosphorus content of the fertilizer. Phosphorus promotes flowering. Fertilizers labeled with disproportionately high amounts of phosphorus are sometimes labeled as "bloom booster".
    SOLUBLE POTASH (K) - The third number in the chemical sequence referrs to % soluble potash, K2O, contained in the fertilizer.
    A fertilizer labeled as 30-10-10 would contain 30% nitrogen, 10% phosphate, and 10% soluble potash, and would generally be used during a plants active growth cycle. While a fertilizer labeled as 10-50-10, would contain 10% nitrogen, 50% phosphate, and 10% soluble potash, and would typically be used prior to and during a plants blooming season.

    How are your peas doing? Be sure you leave them outside, unprotected for a couple nights before you actually plant them into the boxes.

    Have fun,
    Skybird

    P.S.
    Stop apologizing for asking questions! Thats what RMG is here for! :-)

  • digit
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Better go with Skybird on No tray under your pea planters, Daimonic. I'm not much good with container plants - watering every day exhausts me after 3 or 4 months.

    Potash contains potassium. I'm no chemist either but potassium is an essential mineral in MY nutrition. It is important in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance. Studies have shown that diets high in potassium reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

    I get a lot of my potassium from fruits, fruit juices, potatoes and other root vegetables. And, these fruits and veggies have lots of the sugars and starches I enjoy . . . I'm thinking that potash helps plants make sugars and starches and maintain their own fluid balances.

    Steve

  • cnetter
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I finally got my peas in yesterday, along with the chard and beets. Just in time, weather wise. It's raining ice here.

    I can recommend the Sunshine Pro mix. So can Wright's nursery, since they say that's what they use for seedlings and cuttings. I buy a bale of it every year and use it for starting seedlings and cuttings. Price wise, a bale might be your best best, unless it's too much for your planters.

    "What helps drain soil? Is there another way of putting phosphorus into my soil that's more effective/better than bone-meal?"

    I use aged horse manure to aid in drainage because I need lots and have lots available, but peat, or the above mix would work fine.
    When I add large amounts of phophorus (like when I put in a 40 foot diameter rose garden) I used Triple Super Phosphate. It's far more cost effective than bone meal. Phosphorus doesn't travel through the soil as well as nitrogen, so it was recommended to me to add triple super phosphate down where the roots would be (it doesn't burn).
    But, for peas, that would be overkill. I just use Miracle Grow via the drip system. It has a good NPK ratio and (very important to me) won't clog emmiters. It's fast release, so needs to be reapplied throughout the season.
    There is nothing wrong with Miracle Grow in this case(other than the price). Some people prefer fertilizers that use nitrates rather than urea as the source for nitrogen (and I do when it comes to orchids and AVs). But, since you aren't worried about emmiters, I'd recommend finding a good garden fertilizer that is not just fast release. Some of both is nice.
    The form the nitrogen is in will determine if it is fast or slow. Urea is one form of fast. Ureaform is one form of slow. Organic is always slow since it depends on microbes to make it available to the plant.

  • david52 Zone 6
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I just finished planting my peas. A pound of seed in a 70 ft row. A comment on inoculate, a lot depends on what was going on in the soil previously, the bacteria may or may not be present in sufficient concentration. When I began my garden, it was previously sagebrush, and I couldn't grow a much in the way of beans or peas. I then tried using the inoculate, and that made all the difference in the world. If you've done it once, thats enough, the soil then has plenty of the necessary bacteria.

    The exception might be with edeyame, the year I planted that, I did use a special soybean inoculate. Coulda been snake oil, for all I know.

  • cnetter
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Dave is right about the inoculant. I used to think it was hooey, until I got some cheap and tried it. It made quite a difference.
    The nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the inoculant helps peas and other legumes fix nitrogen from the air.

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree about the use of inoculantespecially since youll be using "virgin" soil that hasnt had any peas or other legumes growing in it before. Since the peas are already started, I recommend just sprinkling a little in each hole where the roots will be growing when you transplant your seedlings. It should help them. I shouldnt need to use it anymore, since my peas are planted in the same place every year, but I still always sprinkle a little bit onjust to be sure! ;-)

    My spinach and chard is just starting to come up, cnetter. Yipee! No sign yet of the peas or sweet peas. I checked my soil temp a few days ago, and it ranged from 55 to 60 degrees, depending on exactly where. Guess our "chilly" temps today and tomorrow, and the expected snow, will cool it back down a little bit. Hope to see the peas soon! Still dont have my beets or parsnips in! :-(

    And Im glad to know Im not the only nut who buys potting soil by the bale! It just seems like the most economical way to get it, and it "keeps!" I like Sunshine Mix #5 the best. It has smaller perlite than the others, and I never have liked the looks of big white chunks of stuff on top of the soil for my house plants! I go back to the days when soil didnt have "white stuff" in it! Other than that, the #5 mix is a mostly peat mix like the rest of them. I have a bale of another one too, #1 or #2, dont remember for sure, and except for the size of the perlite, I cant tell any difference at all in the composition. I think the #5 was more expensive. Sunshine is what Paulinos uses for all their growing toodont remember which mix. The other garden center I worked at used Ball Mix, and its good too, but Im not too sure thats very easy to find available retail.

    For those of you on the front range, brace for the snow!
    And for everyone, Happy Easter,
    Skybird

  • mundira
    10 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you all for the questions and answers. I'm in New Mexico, and I found your forum looking for the answer to Daimonic's initial question about sugar snap peas. Mine are also indoors and growing very tall! So I will follow instructions for hardening them.

    As for everything else we planted, I have another question.

    At this elevation (mile high, like Denver), we normally don't plant outdoors until May 10th. That's five more weeks - eek!

    What do I do with my beans, pumpkins, cantaloupe, squash, etc. in the meantime, since the roots are getting very long outside the little peat pots they are in?