Plant Peas for Shoots

By mid-winter, I need to see color, and have the promise of spring, so I start my garden planning and organizing, eagerly awaiting my first opportunity to sow. For me, outdoor sowing in the new year begins on the first day of spring. The ceremony of sowing peas is my official "It's spring" ritual. I soak my pea seeds overnight to speed emergence (although, this isn't a deal breaker). Then, I love taking the round, plump seeds and snuggling them into a blanket of soil. I know that within a few weeks, the seedlings' bright green foliage will appear, and I can enjoy pea shoots!pea shoot

Pea shoots are edible and taste a lot like peas. Harvesting a few pea shoots won't harm the vines' growth, but actually encourages more branching, potentially producing more peas to harvest. When plants are a few inches tall, select 2"-4" shoots from the top of the plants and pinch them off using your fingernails or scissors, leaving at least one set of true leaves on the plant (see illustration). Assuming you don't snack on them right in the garden, add them to a salad or use them as a garnish for dinner. Pea flowers are also edible. I harvest just a few at a time so I don't impact the pea yield. Usually, you will see two flowers coming from one leaf junction. By harvesting one of the pair, you are actually making the remaining flower generate a larger pea than it otherwise would have.

pea shoot illustration

If you love pea shoots as much as I do, you can also sow them indoors in a container at any time of year. Sometime in February I got the itch for a fresh salad, so I set up a container in front of a sunny window and sow pea seeds 1" apart on all sides. In just two to four weeks, you will be eating fresh shoots! Our Peas for Shoots Baby Greens variety is delicious and you can even harvest a crop two or three times to get your fill.

What are you sowing on the first day of spring? What's your garden signal that spring has begun?

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