It’s time to plant the peas in Dayton !
Pet bunnies and other small herbivores love spring peas. One April, I watched a baby cottontail snuggle into the thick radish leaves in my garden every morning, taking a little rest before heading home. She was very polite and did not eat a single radish leaf. It was only after a week that I noticed that my formerly-thriving snap pea plants had been reduced to a few green sticks…
Peas are high in vitamins A and C, B vitamins and lutein; they are a good source of folic acid and have some capacity to reduce free-radicals (they help the immune system, in other words).
Green peas are a very good source of vitamin K, which is critical for proper bone mineralization and health, and also important for proper blood clotting ability. The folic acid and B6 in peas further enhances bone health, and is important for good cardiovascular health as well.
The thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and B6 in peas are vital for proper metabolism and energy production. Peas are a good source of iron, crucial for normal red blood cell formation and prevention of anemia and resultant fatigue. This iron, along with the relatively high levels of vitamin C in peas, helps support the body’s immune system.
Peas are about one-quarter protein by weight; the bad news is that they are also one-quarter sugar, so feed them sparingly as treats
Easily grown, few pests
You can’t beat the taste of fresh, sweet peas in spring. They are one of the first vegetables we Ohioans can harvest in the spring, as they do grow quickly. They are a cool-weather crop and they can tolerate frosts – here in Dayton you can plant those peas NOW. Dwarf varieties save space and produce the earliest harvests. Snow peas and snap peas require no shelling prior to eating.
Plant the seeds in a well-drained area about 1-1 ½ inches deep and a couple inches apart. You can scatter some spinach seeds in between those pea seeds to maximize your yield. Never treat them with a nitrogen fertilizer as they will then produce many leaves but no peas.
When the plants are about six inches tall, start training them onto a support of some sort; simple bamboo stakes will do nicely for the bush varieties, the vining types will need some sort of trellis. You can set a small dish of beer into the soil to lure pea-eating slugs to a drunken death. I have no answer for the baby cottontail situation except to advise you to plant extra, and if truly inundated with baby bunnies, you may erect a 3 foot chickenwire fence around the crop (make sure to stake it into the ground).
When the pods are ready, pinch them off or snip off with scissors; the pods should be fat but not hard or fading in color. The pods should be picked daily during the harvest period.
The bunnies – wild and domestic – will thank you.
Don’t forget to vote for local rescue hero Robyn McGeorge in the Energizer Hall of Fame competition. Type the name “Robyn” in the search engine and click on the “like” button to vote. Your vote can help make all the difference for the animals in her care.
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