Peas and dirt and worms, oh my
Tendrils climbing to the sky.
Peas and dirt and worms, my word,
Winter's gone and Spring's occurred.
Little worm digs deep to hide,
Last year's straw mixed deep inside.
Little worm churns dirt and rubble,
Making soil from all that stubble.
Broken soil now wet and cold,
Clods and clay and loam and mold.
Broken soil to hold the seed,
Grow the crop or grow the weed.
Soon the peas come bursting out,
Growing, stretching, flowers sprout.
Soon more peas will fill the pods,
Sun-kissed by the garden's Gods.
Continuing my pattern of the past few years, I waited until well after the traditional St. Patrick's Day target to plant spring crops. For Midwest gardeners of this latitude, the 17th of March is the day that our fathers told us to plant, but the delayed Springs of late have me reaching deep down within for patience before I put hoe to ground and plant my own. This past weekend however, the rare conditions of afternoon warmth and personal energy and spare time all collided in a whirlwind Saturday of planting and pruning and cleaning. There will be other days like that to come, of course, but my vegetable garden is now squared away for the season; new strawberries started, peas and potatoes properly planted, and empty trellises placed to await tomato vines.
These peas look happy, pre-soaked and plump, ready to be covered by soil and to begin the cycle of replication once again. The ground temperature in my garden was 46ºF when I planted them, proving once again that one of the most essential tools that a gardener can own is a soil thermometer. The ground here is still pretty cold for peas, even though it was March 29th when I planted them. The Kansas Garden Guide, from K-State Research and Extension, is an excellent resource for vegetable planting, and it tells me that I may still be planting peas too early. Other Internet sources, such as the University of Vermont Extension, suggest that soil temperatures around 45º are adequate for pea germination. I've come to the conclusion that I can plant peas and potatoes on March 17th and then wait 4 weeks before they come up, or I can plant them 2 weeks later and wait a week for germination and not have to wonder if they've rotted in the ground. Maybe Global Warming can get us back to planting on March 17th, but for the near future, I'm staying near April for potatoes and peas.