I am working on an excel spreadsheet that lists vegetables, earliest planting dates for region, field locations – essentially anything and everything that is required to plant crops. Snap peas are one of the earlier crops that can go in the ground in early spring, even before the last frost date. With our farmer mentor’s help, I set today as “THE” snap pea date to plant 2 rows set 11 feet apart so that Dan can drive the tractor in between for weeding purposes.
Peas are in the fabaceae or the legume family (experts, please help me with the pronunciation of botanical latin names). They form root nodules and contain symbiotic bacteria Rhizobia which can fix nitrogen from the atmostphere. Why is this important? Nitrogen molecules are necessary building blocks of DNA and for plants to make chlorophyll, which plants require to make energy from the sun. Many vegetables are considered heavy feeders and extract a lot of nitrogen from the soil. Plants that grow in nutrient-poor soil are smaller and less healthy.
Farmers used various methods to reintroduce nitrogen such as bird droppings and bonemeal. After world war II, American plants that manufactured bombs, of which nitrogen was a key component, were re-tooled to produce ammonia for agricultural fertilizer. As farming became bigger and more industrial, monocrops of corn and wheat began to replace traditional crop rotation and farmers turned to fertilizer.
Industrial agriculture applies nitrogenous fertilizers to re-energize the soil with a lost nutrient.
This is why beans (same family) are the best source of non-animal protein, all that nitrogen. See nutrition profile of sugar snap peas. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2517/2
We set down 2 rows and will wait a few weeks when they sprout to put up supports and trellis. In about 9 weeks, we should be able to host a pick-your-own snap peas event!