You can plant peas in a number of different fashions. Check to see which one suits your garden best.
Although peas can be grown successfully in single rows, you'll have a more abundant harvest with much less work if you grow peas in wide rows. With wide-row growing, you'll spend less time weeding, watering and harvesting, and more time shelling, because the harvest is larger.
It's easiest to make your wide rows the same width as your rake, which is normally 14 to 16 inches. To mark off a wide row, put a stake at each end of the row. Stretch a string close to the ground between the two stakes. Hold one edge of an iron rake next to the string, and drag the rake down the length of the row. This will level and smooth the seedbed at the same time that it marks off the width of the row.
Remove large stones and any debris from the seedbed and really smooth the soil before you plant. Once you've finished, don't walk on the bed - you'll only pack it down. You want the soil loose for your seeds.
Broadcast pea seeds 1-1/2 to two inches apart across the entire raked area.
Using the back of a hoe, gently tamp down the seeds, pressing them into the soil. With a rake, pull enough soil from outside the row to cover the seeds. The amount of soil covering each seed should equal four times the diameter of the seed, or about 1-1/2 inches for peas. Gently level off the row.
Finally, the soil should be firmed down again, so that there's good contact with the seeds.
It's a good idea to water the rows gently after planting, especially if the soil is dry. If you water before planting, you'll pack down the soil.
Leave 18-inch-wide walkways between your wide rows. This allows enough room for the plants to spread out, and it's also wide enough to walk through, allowing you to cultivate and harvest easily.
The simplest way to make a single row is to put stakes in the ground at each end of the row and stretch a string tightly between them. Draw a shallow furrow with a hoe beside the string in the well-spaded seedbed.
Plant seeds one to two inches apart in rows at least 16 inches apart. After planting the row, use a hoe to cover the seeds with 1-1/2 inches of soil. Then gently firm the soil with the back of the hoe and water well.
Although they're similar to single rows, double rows use garden space more productively. Make two shallow furrows four to five inches apart. Drop the seeds into the furrows, one to two inches apart and 1-1/2 inches deep. Continue planting as you would for single rows.
The double-row method is especially helpful for trellising tall pea varieties. Simply place the vine supports between the double rows.
If you have irrigation problems, place a soaker hose (a garden hose made of porous material that allows the water to seep out slowly) between the two rows for efficient watering.
Another way to irrigate double rows is to dig a shallow furrow between the two seed rows. To water the peas, simply run water down the middle furrow.
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Article published on June 23, 2008.