Today is pea planting day here at Happy Acres. I’m planting edible podded ones, both snap and snow types, but no shelling varieties. I’m running a bit behind in getting my peas planted, but I am still ahead of last year when I finally got them in the ground the first week of April. In 2016 I direct seeded them in early March, but they failed to come up, so I decided to sprout them indoors. That worked out so well I did it again this year. It’s basically the same procedure as growing pea shoots indoors, except you plant the sprouted peas outdoors instead of inside. This spring I’m growing several I’ve grown before, including the heirloom snow peas Golden Sweet and Corne De Belier plus the 1991 introduction Oregon Giant. For snap peas I am growing Sugar Daddy and the 2017 AAS Regional Winner Patio Pride.
To pre-sprout the peas, I start by soaking the seeds for about four to five hours. That gets them plumped up, and they can swell up to two or three times their original size in the process. After soaking, you can either leave them in the jar or wrap them in a damp cloth or towel. To experiment, I did them both ways this year, keeping them all on the kitchen counter where the temps averaged in the low 70°F range. I rinsed the ones in the jar a couple of times, while the ones covered by towels needed no attention. All were sprouting about 48 hours after they began soaking.
Once the seeds start sprouting, they need to be planted ASAP. You also need to handle them gently to avoid damaging the emerging roots. I prepped my planting bed beforehand, but even so we got a decent soaking rain yesterday that left the soil wet and soggy. It is still misting rain as we speak, but it should clear up by later this morning. It looks like I will be mudding them in! My plan is to make a shallow furrow with a hoe, distribute the seeds in the furrow, then cover with potting soil. Thankfully I have a light, silty soil that drains fairly quickly. You can also cover the seeds with compost, but mine tends to be weedy.
I hope you have enjoyed this update, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!
I may have to have a go at this!
It worked well Sue. I think the jar method was the easiest come planting time. I took the jars to the garden with me and poured the seeds out into my hand to plant them. The towel method was a little bit trickier for me to get them out without spilling them everywhere – which I did once!
I wonder whether it would work for sweet peas?
I would think it would work for sweet peas. At least the soaking part should work.
It will be interesting to see if there is a difference between the jar and paper towel methods. I did test sprouting (using a paper towel) vs. not in the past and didn’t find a big difference in germination or how long they took to come up but then again, I was comparing results from two different years so perhaps the conditions were different. I’m looking forward to seeing how yours do – I may just test out the jar method this year.
Last year the spring planting definitely rotted before coming up outside. And the fall planting did not come up all that well either, since it was hot and dry when the seeds were sown. So for me the pre-sprouting saves a lot of seeds and re-seeding efforts. We’ll see if the jar vs towel methods make any difference in actual emergence.
I’ve heard of sprouting peas before planting but haven’t tried it. I don’t usually have too much trouble with germination, but it’s good to know this is an option. Do you innoculate your peas when you plant them?
I sometimes do, if I haven’t planted beans or peas in that spot for a while.