Bitter Peas - Knowledgebase Question

Swanton, OH
Question by bonnieandbud
February 22, 1998
The last 3 years that I have grown peas, the plants have done beautifully, but the peas themselves have been bitter & we haven't been able to eat them. I planted them in the garden in March and I think that I have used "good" varieties (suchas Super Sugar Snap & Knight). I don't know if I should blame it on the weather or if something is lacking in the soil. Any ideas? I can't stand another season without homegrown peas. This year I thought I might try the variety Super Sugar Mel.


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Answer from NGA
February 22, 1998

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Before you try again, I would go ahead and look into a soil test to be absolutely sure nothing is off base there. Contact your County Extension Service about that. As long as your plants are adequately fertilized, nutrient levels probably aren't a factor in taste. The bitterness can be caused by a variety of things, among them, irregular watering. Be sure to keep your peas well watered, and provide a mulch to keep the soil evenly moist. Another major cause of bitterness in peas is temperature. Plants like peas, spinach, and lettuce like cool weather where they grow slowly. In hot weather, they will grow quickly. Plants that grow too quickly may end up with a bitter or bland taste. One trick is to plant in a spot where it will get some shade during the hottest part of the day. Or try planting a little earlier in the spring, if possible, or plant a midsummer crop for fall harvest. You are also on the right track by planting varieties that naturally have a sweeter taste.

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