Not Yet Enough Of Snow? Try Snow Peas
The winter vegetables such as cabbage, cauli, brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, silverbeet, spinach, broad beans, etc are all well underway and the early-planted crops are ready for harvesting about now.
So what can one plant for a bit of variety? Snow peas are one answer, and now many garden centers have Chinese snow peas in packets (there may be other brands), and now is an ideal time to plant them.
How To Grow Snow Peas
It is always best to grow your snow peas (or peas) from seed. They sprout as quickly as six days after they are sown — always impressive.
Most of the hints and advice in this article have been written for snow peas but you will find they will equally apply to green peas.
Many gardeners don’t bother growing peas these days; ordinary frozen peas are too easy to buy all year round, and the crop takes up a fair amount of room in a summer garden.
But snow peas are a winter crop and will be harvested before the mainspring planting of other vegetables is completed. They can be used as a fodder crop with great benefits to the soil, as well as being able to harvest pods for winter cooking.
Snow peas always make a stir-fry something really special. They can also be grown as a late winter/early spring crop.
Harvesting And Problems
Make sure you pick your snow peas before they start to mature, otherwise the peas in the pods will swell up and you’ll lose some of that unique taste. The one thing I’d stress about snow peas is that you avoid watering the leaves.
The one thing I would stress about snow peas is that you avoid watering the leaves. Too much water on the leaves will probably cause powdery mildew to set in, and all the plants will be covered as the disease spreads rapidly, ending your season early.
So keep your water away from the leaves or spray baking soda with Raingard twice weekly to prevent powdery mildew.
Otherwise, apply it as soon as the disease is noticed as it will stop it in its tracks. (Place a tablespoon of baking soda into one liter of warm water with 1ml of Raingard, stir to fizz up place in the sprayer, use straight away).
One of the best things though about snow peas are how quickly you start getting a crop. Usually, in eight weeks you will be eating your own produce. It’s that quick. Don’t sow the snow pea seeds in the same area or containers as cabbages.
This may cause the snow pea plants to take longer to flower. Cabbages like regular nitrogen doses with liquid manure. But the liquid manure flows through into the soil around the snow peas.
Result: lots of leaves on the snow peas as the plant puts its energy into growing leaves and not flowers.
Put sulfate of potash around the snow peas and a couple of weeks later the flowers will start to appear. During July, August, and maybe into September, you will have juicy snow peas coming out of your eyeballs. And they taste so good!
They will eventually succumb to powdery mildew after they stop cropping. The plants can then be dug in and the ground left until spring planting starts.
Hints and Tips:
- Snow peas prefer a well-limed, free-draining soil and a sunny- to-part-shade aspect.
- Sow the seed next to a fence or trellis and weave the shoots through the fence for support. Otherwise, place stakes at the end of rows with garden twine between the stakes for support.
- If growing as a fodder crop, sow the peas in a band about a meter wide and place stakes at the four corners.
- Tie garden twine around the circumference of the bed to stop the plants sprawling out.
- The peas can still be harvested and the plants will tend to help support each other.
- Leave ample walking room between beds for access to harvesting.
- Mind you, if you use the snow peas as a fodder crop you are likely to have more peas to harvest than you can cope with, so either sell them to your local greengrocer or give them away to friends.
- Water them at the soil level, avoiding the leaves, otherwise, you’re likely to encounter powdery mildew early.
- Harvest them often to encourage further flowering and more pods.
- The shoots of the plant can also be harvested for salads or cooked in stir-fry meals.
- After harvesting, dig the roots and plants into the soil to boost the soil’s nitrogen.
Snow Peas Recipe
Beef With Snow Peas
Recipe adapted from Lisa Abraham Akron Beacon Journal
1 1/2 pounds of pork tenderloin with the fat removed, sliced very thin against the grain
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry or cooking sherry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons oil
8 ounces fresh snow peas, ends trimmed
5 whole scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces on diagonal
Salt to taste (use sparingly)
3 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes, for sprinkling
Jasmine or long-grain rice, cooked according to the package
To marinate beef:
Place steak in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, and ginger.
Pour half of the mixture over sliced steak. Using hands, toss to coat. Set aside. Reserve remaining liquid.
To stir-fry snow peas:
In a heavy skillet (iron is best) or wok, heat oil over high heat. Add snow peas. Stir-fry for 45 seconds. Remove to a separate plate. Set aside.
To stir-fry beef and scallions: Allow the pan to get very hot again. Using tongs, add half of the meat mixture, leaving most of the marinade in a bowl.
Add half of the scallions. (Note: Spread out meat as you add it to the pan. Do not stir for 1 minute. You want the meat to get as brown as possible in an as short amount of time as possible.)
Turn meat to another side. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove to clean plate. Allow the pan to get very hot again. Repeat with other half of the meat and scallions.
After turning the meat, add the first plateful of meat, reserved marinade, and snow peas. Stir over high heat for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.
Check seasonings. Add salt only if needed. (Note: Mixture will thicken as it sits.)
Serve immediately over hot rice. Sprinkle crushed red-pepper over