The balmy spring weather brings out the optimist in all of us. I spent this evening planting sugar pod peas - Sugar Snap and Super Sugar Snap. (Has anyone else noticed that some of the newer hybrids don't seem to be around this year?) The small vines yield an almost overwhelming supply of sweet, edible-podded peas in April. Last year we planted sugar peas in late February, figuring that if they went in during April on the Great Lakes, surely they could go in earlier here. No luck. The peas decayed in the cold, wet soil. Replanted in March, they went on to flourish.
One problem I've noticed this year - there seems to be a shortage of bean and pea innoculant. All the legumes, including beans, peas and clovers, fix nitrogen into the soil. Because of this, my peas will not only be providing me with a delicious early veggie snack supply but they will also be making the bed where they are planted richer in nitrogen - fertilizing it, in essence - which will make it even better for the crops to follow when the peas are done and the hot weather veggies go in. The innoculant is a beneficial bacteria. Rhizobial bacteria form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the legumes and "fix" nitrogen from the air into nodules on the roots... from there the nodules feed the plants and add to the nutrients in the soil. Folks debate whether it's worthwhile or not and if you are replanting peas or beans where you've had them before, it's likely the rhizobia are already present in the soil. But I like to add it -- and now I've visited four garden departments or stores where the employees had No Clue what I was talking about! Bah!
Last note: Although we are always colder out here than in town, we did reach 70 degrees yesterday (holding at 68 today) and HERE THEY ARE! While I sit here on the back porch blogging, I can hear the first Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) chiming on the edge of the wetlands like delicate bells. If you would like to hear what Spring Peepers sound like for your own ID, go here: U.of Wisconsin - Spring Peepers .
The country folklore where I grew up said that the Peepers had to freeze three times before spring would arrive. It's as good a way as any other to count down to the Average Last Frost Date (a myth if I've ever read one). So, if you are counting.... one for the Peepers!