It was 2000 peas to be exact, two 40' rows of shelling peas "Strike" (one of the earliest and just 24" high) and two rows of "Caselode" which is one of the sweetest shelling peas and slow to turn to starch when the weather warms so although producing later it has a long harvesting time. Better late than never, but definitely late. Peas are normally planted around St Patrick's day (March 17th) or as soon as the ground is workable and has had a chance to dry out a bit after winter. It will be a few weeks before they look like the crop shown.
I dusted them with a bacterial inoculant to help increase yields and then zigzagged the seeds 1/2" apart in a 3" shallow trench. It's always good to follow the old tale of one for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow. To safeguard against mice it's a good idea to cover them wire netting, although I must confess I never do.
I love shelled peas, harvested and eaten straight from the vine, there is nothing like them and buying the dried out starchy pretenders available in stores comes nowhere near the real thing. Peas are cool-season performers and you have to plant a lot to ensure a good size pea harvest once they’re shelled -- hence the thousands planted today. Not that I plan to actually eat all that I plant, they freeze well and this year I tend to extend the growing season by harvesting and eating some of the young pea shoots and tendrils.
All parts of the pea plant are edible. As the pea leaves and stems mature, they tend to get tough and stringy. But when they are young, the pea shoots with their curling, clinging tendrils are tender and delicious. The great thing is that although they look exotic and sophisticated on the table even gardeners who can’t grow peas to maturity can grow pea shoots and tendrils.
There’s no trick to growing pea shoots and tendrils. Just seed extra so you have some to harvest early. Since the plants you sow for shoots and tendrils won’t need as long a growing period, you can reseed up to about 1 month before the warm weather sets in.
Once the pea plants are about 6" - 8" tall, you can snip off the top growth including one set of leaves. This will be your first, small harvest, but cutting off the growing tip will encourage the plants to branch out and continue growing.
After that, you can continue harvesting the top 2" - 6" of the pea plants every 3 - 4 weeks. You can harvest shoots, leaves and tendrils as well as any flowers or buds that may have formed. Eventually the plants will cry uncle and start to turn bitter, best to stop harvesting at this point. Last year the weather was so cool I actually got pea pods forming on these plants, most years the pea season is well over before then. No worries, you can replant from seed in mid-August for a fall crop.