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Dwarf Snow Peas perfect for small gardens!


IMG_1387-snowpea-2017I have grown snow peas off and on throughout the past decade in our Urban Potager, but in recent years, I have been battling the critters. I have started them in every possible place you can think of, and the small birds, bunnies, or chipmunks keep destroying or damaging my crops. The little pea plants look great until they get to about a six inches tall and it is a battle to keep them, going. Until this year, the critters kept winning but, not anymore!!!

IMG_1276-deGrace-snow-pea-2017Early spring my peas were growing strong and tall until one day, I noticed something eating the edges of all my new green leaves. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! This needed to end; It was them or me, and my quest to have snow peas was drawn in the garden dirt! I was determined to find a solution that allowed me to live peacefully with my resident creatures. Our dog keeps our bunnies under control, and when he finds a rabbit or nest, I usually go inside and let him finish what he needs to do. I know, I am a wimp!However, he is getting too old to catch the speedy chipmunks. To keep chipmunks away, I used to use black netting until I found a dead chipmunk struggling in the mesh, and I let it go. Yep, I am a sucker like that and probably would not make a great farmer. The slow death by black mesh was cruel. There had to be a better way to battle my critter problem. There was, CHICKEN WIRE! I love this stuff. It keeps them out of my crops, and we can share the same space.

IMG_1320-deGrace-Snow-peaThe only disadvantage of chicken wire is that my spring edible plants are placed in mini corrals around the garden. It does not make a beautiful garden early spring, but it is what you have to do to keep your edible garden safe from all those little animals that want to eat tender, spring seedlings. Today is the first day of summer here in the Midwest which means the corrals are rolled up, and my resident critters have moved on to other things to eat. If I did not corral up my crops early spring, I would have nothing to eat!

IMG_1364-snow-pea-2017I had the peas enclosed in chicken wire since the end of March, and everything was going well until I discovered little birds nibbling all my green leaves later in the spring. Those little birds were squeezing through the larger holes in my chicken wire. UGH,  back to the drawing board! I decided to double wire while I waited for some smaller holed wire that I ordered to arrive. Once I double wired the area, it took a few weeks for the plants to recover from the damage done by the nibbling. I had to wait a bit longer for snow peas. When they DID recover, the plants grew to about 3 feet tall and were filled with lovely white blooms!

IMG_1269-DeGrace-Snow-Pea-2017This spring I grew only dwarf  Snow Pea DeGrace which is known to tolerate some frigid temps and even survive a bit of snow. De Grace Snow Pea is a rare heirloom that is hard to find according to Baker Creek Seeds, it has been extinct from North American trade for 20 years. Our springs in the Midwest, Quad City region are usually perfect for pea growing.  Peas like consistent cool weather which is not always possible to predict in this area lately. Since I started our Urban Potager back in 2003, our Spring weather has been all over the spectrum and extremely unpredictable.

IMG_1331-Snow-Pea-DG-2017We are starting to have some record-breaking heat temperatures for spring in the Midwest. The peas in the past few weeks have begun not producing any flowers.DARN!. We have been breaking records all over the place for “hot” spring days which go back as far as the 1800’s.

IMG_1383-DeGrace-Snowpea-2017This is a lovely heirloom dwarf pea that will grace our Urban Potager for years to come. I plan on growing it this fall since it is a dwarf variety and should start producing earlier than some others that I have tried in the past. I feel it is an ideal one for a small garden. Do give it a try!

IMG_1257-DeGrace-Snow-Pea-2017I recommend growing this snow pea in containers if you don’t have a lot of space. I have tried snow peas in pots before on the back porch. I feel this dwarf variety would work better than some of the 6-foot snow pea vines I have tried in the past.

IMG_1452-cucmber-and-peaI practice succession planting so early June I started my cucumber plants at the base of the snow peas. As the snow peas start slowing down and some of the leaves yellow up and die, cucumbers will be running up the trellis to give us a summer crop. In the city, we don’t have a lot of space, so we have to keep thinking ahead what we can plant in place of a crop that quits producing. I will side dress the cucumbers with some compost, and they should be ready in a month.

IMG_1373-snow-peaI wish we had a longer spring for these were some of the best snow peas I have tasted. Many times they did not make it to the kitchen for I ate them in the garden.  Our hot weather last week seems to have zapped the sweetness right out of them. I can’t wait to grow them again in the fall. Snow peas should be a vegetable that all people grow in the city.  They grow vertically and don’t take up much space. Just remember to corral them up with some chicken wire!



36 replies »

  1. Hi Robbie! Informative (and entertaining, imagining you battling the critters) post with lovely photos. I picked our first sugar snap peas at our CSA farm just today! Crunchy and delicious straight from the plant into my mouth – yum. 🙂

    • Eliza, lately I am thinking a CSA sounds pretty good after all that chicken wire-LOL. I am rounding it up this week. I wish I was like Bewitched from the 70’s and could wiggle my nose and it would roll up!!!!!! I do not grow some items and go to the local Farmer Market due to lack of space. I do let others grow some of my food:-) How cool you get to pick it!

  2. SO with you on the pea front! I planted out a punnet of dwarf sugar snap peas and a punnet of snow peas into wicking beds and the giant slugs ate all of the sugar snap peas overnight, along with a punnet of perpetual spinach and hoovered down a punnet of Chinese cabbages. I am starting to think that the slugs might just eat my sanity one day! The snow peas managed to survive as they are in a fridge wicking bed outside the back door and I suspect, the blackbirds are able to scoff the slugs and other pests but the possums are not so stupid to think that they can thwart Earl-the-wonder-dog emerging from the dog door like the apocalypse at any given moment…sigh…Lovely post and I am glad you got a harvest Robbie 🙂

    • I was reading your comment and the first thing came to me was “beer”…that is what my husband’s grandmother use to use. I am thinking hwen you mention
      giant slugs are these GIANT? If they are giant it might be a lot of beer-LOL. Here you go, a blog post on the subject

      I have these strange things eating my “perpetual spinach” but it is odd. They eat it only in one section of the garden. A Strange thing is it is only this one “type” of chard. It i snot so much on my other chard. I just need to figure out what they are and how to slow them down. Do you have any idea? They are flat and worm-like on the leaves. I have never seen them before. I searched the internet and could not find any information on these particular little, annoying guys. It is a struggle to find that place where you can exist with your critter or creatures in your garden. I have days where I just want to GIVE UP! But I usually jump back in and give it another go:-)

      • I know how you feel! I get that all of the time when some buggery-bollocks critter scoffs our hard grafted crops. The blackbirds ate all of my strawberries but that just makes me determined to stop them next season. I am going to go outside the fence and put bird netting all along it and bollocks to them getting in to scoff my berries and tomatoes next season! You learn from these tiny invasions and you adapt. I guess that’s the good side! I have a sneaky feeling you have imported some flatworms into your garden. They apparently started off in New Zealand and ended up in the U.K. and I am quite sure it would only be a hop-step-and-jump to the U.S. Check out this article and see if they are what you have…

        Hopefully this article will help. Our leopard slugs are ginormous. The duck almost chokes on them they are that big! If they decide to hoover down a seedling, they need a whole punnet to satisfy them (the greedy guzzlers…) I could put slug pellets on the garden beds but I just worry about the dogs eating them so I grind my teeth and mutter a lot. I would have to wrestle Steve to get the beer off him to kill the slugs and I fear I would come out one morning to find that all of my slug beer traps had been emptied of their contents and a sheepish looking Steve would be whistling and looking in the other direction…

      • Good Morning Fran from America! I was away from the computer and missed this post. I did look at the article but that is not them. ICK-glad too, those are scary-yep, I’m a wimp! They are very tiny and have ridges all over them. IN fact, they don’t look like a worm. They are weird. I have never seen anything like it. I would not even call them worms. They are flat (like pasta dough flat) with ridges. No larger than an eraser head. Very strange looking. Do you have any idea?? Your right, I’m wondering if they came in on some seed/plant I purchased?
        UCKY!!!! just reading how big your slugs are-gives me the geebies-LOL I don’t mind toads, lizards or insects but things without legs, just creep me out. I have friends with gardens closer to the river and they have tons of snakes in their gardens. One day a friend had a dozen snakes sunbathing wrapped in her rose bushes…OMG…I would have to move. I don’t mind my toads, spiders or any other insects out there…but things without legs-NO WAY.
        I love home brewed beer, so I would be good with having more beer!

      • I just went hunting online to see if I could find anything like what you are talking about and I can’t. I wonder if you took them to your local agricultural office and asked there? I once took a large spider in a jar to an agricultural office and they told me what it was. They know all about pest species and would most likely easily be able to identify them. Could you take a photo? That way, it would be a LOT easier to search and identify. You could even try dropping the image into a Chrome image search and you might come up with something (doubtful, but you never know…) I am used to the motherpussbucket slugs now. I figure the frogs and toads also eat them so there might be food potential being utilised by the enormous buggers. I am thinking about copper tape around the top of the fridge wicking beds as I figure that is going to be my most sustainable long term option but I did see an interesting post the other day about a guy who rigged up a couple of wires around the top of his garden beds attached to a 9 volt (square) battery that stopped the snails and slugs like an arthropod electric fence. I saw it in action and they definitely didn’t want to cross it! Might also be the go but I would likely go through a tonne of batteries and if you didn’t constantly monitor them to check that they were still live, the slugs would just head on over when they wore out and scoff the lot.

      • I agree! I will take a picture or bring a leaf with them on it to our extension. Wow, wires for slugs, those are some BIG SLUGS!!!! It just blows my mind how big your slugs get.I”ve read about slugs in England. I thought, how could they have so many problems with those little slugs WEll, them slugs are BIG, sister!!!! LOL. They look more like slug-snakes!

      • I just wish our duck could get into the area as we wouldn’t have a slug problem. Watching her hoof them down is both a delight and totally disgusting in the same instant 😉

      • maybe you should give her “slug time” in the garden and tell the dogs they have to stay inside-lol. I know what you mean by delight and totally disgusting. Sort of when Chance gets the rabbits, I am glad he gets rid of the rabbits, but at hte same time , I am like-they are too cute whey did he eat them!!!!

      • That’s nature for you! I find that often you only truly appreciate something if you have had a bit of adversity in the process. It seems to temper the end result making it all the more lovely 🙂

      • I agree…since I have been growing food I have grown to appreciate the difficulty of growing food and working with nature:-) One of the hardest jobs;-)

    • I posted the video and decided to watch it AFTER I commented. LOL, those fat slugs climb in and out of the beer! I figure they were tiny slugs which are what we have here in USA. That means they would drown easily, but those monsters in the video, well, they just grab a shot and run away!!!! You need a pool of beer for your slugs, I have no doubt. You would go broke buying enough beer for monster slugs. I’m off to ride the river with a friend this morning and don’t have time to check out her other myths. How about sticky tape to keep them in place! I would be terrified of those slugs!

  3. Hi Robbie, it’s so nice to see something of your garden again. I love peas – all kinds of peas – and when I grew them a couple of years ago they rarely made it inside too – and not because of any little critters! 🙂 I hope you are enjoying a bountiful garden this year and having fun in the sun too. xoxo

    • Hi Pauline:-) I am enjoying my garden finally after months of repairing all the destruction from the tear down last summer-aka-the never-ending project-LOL. I am so greatful that
      I have time to be in the oasis of my backyard. Happy Gardening to you too!

  4. I’m glad you were able to enjoy some snow peas Robbie! My peas (telephone pole) are just beginning to flower and I just planted blue coco beans beneath them. I’m not concerned about temperature for the peas. It is a cool 60° on today’s summer solstice. I cannot get my cilantro or basil to germinate and I’m thinking it’s the cooler temperatures! I put straw mulch on my beds this year and maybe that was a mistake. Maybe that kept the soil cooler. I have since removed a fair amount of it because I think it also harbored slugs and ants. I have so many ants and just the other day I decided enough is enough and I baited them with boric acid and sugar. I feel like a mass murderer. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a balance in the garden. I was hoping Flickers would show up to enjoy the ants but it’s been a few years. I know/hope you are enjoying your garden! I found a deer repellent spray containing putrescent eggs works wonderfully to repel the rabbits. I just spray the side of my raised beds. A good way to deter slugs is with chicken grit or crushed shells if you live by a beach. The sharp surface deters them. Also copper tape – it reacts with their slime – ewwww! I think the grackles eat most of my slug and snail problems. If I could knit, I think I would make little tomato scarves LOL. Every year is a trial, no? Enjoy the fruits of your labors!

    • I stopped over to visit your garden before I read this. Yes, it is a balance. You just have to learn what you can live with and what you can not. The ants are horrible this year. We had them marching up the wall and had to use some stuff too. They get into the house and what a pain!!!
      I have to now keep my lawn cut short since I found some chiggers. I have never had any problems, but they seem to love to climb up my husband.
      I grew blue coco beans one summer, and they were very prolific. They were pretty on the vines too. I have Rattle Snake beans this year and some yellow Romano. Sometimes, you just enjoy a change from the usual ones you grow each year.
      Thank you for the great ideas for repelling animals. I find our lot is so dry and really not slug friendly. I don’t know why it is, but we get pretty dry here during the summer. We had a drought period the last few weeks. Last time we had rain was in May, it went for weeks, and all the lawns on our block were drying up. When did summer replace spring??? LOL, I had young seedlings, so I had to water some which I don’t like to do…so I have not seen any slubs this year, they would be dried up in our yard, We finally got some rain the other day, PHEW…..

  5. I have to plant peas in February to get one good batch. It usually gets hot here so fast. I have tried some heat tolerant ones, but they weren’t that tolerant. I like the idea of snow peas and may try this variety this winter or plant it in August and hope for a fall crop. Good hints! And what a beautiful garden.

    • We live in zone 5 and I feel the same way, I have some going right now as the cucumber plant climbs over them but they just don’t taste that good in our humid, hot early summer weather. It is cooling off for a few days and they start producing again but not tasting as good as they did in the cool, moist spring weather! I am will continue to grow these dwarf ones since they only get about 3 feet tall and produce a lot of snow peas:-) I will post about my winter crop late this fall-fingers crossed!!!

    • I plan on starting them over in the fall, just leaving them in while I start the cucumbers at the base. They started producing again with this wacky weather. LOL. I was eating them yesterday. I will compost them in place once they actually die to feed the cucumbers:-) It is interesting that they are still going after that 100 index! The issues is they may be still producing but they don’t taste that good after a good heat spell. I love to experiment!

  6. I lost all of my peas last winter to a poorly timed frost. I didn’t try again in the spring. I’ll have to give these a go this winter if they can take low temps (low for my area isn’t very low, really, and they would’ve kicked the bucket due to the heat here months ago.)

  7. I just love snow peas! My husband plants a few for me to eat right off the vine. I just love crunching on them while watching TV. They never make it to a plate. We have the same problem with the critters. My husband made raised beds this years and put netting and rabbit wire the beds that needed protection.

    • It is so worth getting them but SUCH a chore to get them-lol. I totally understand they never make it to the plate-my problem I eat them in the garden as I work!

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