What’s In The Garden Now – Snap Peas
By Les Harrison, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director and Clara Foran, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Family and Consumer Sciences Temporary Program Aide.
The cool evenings and days in the upper 80’s and 90’s are bring an end to the spring growing season for Wakulla County’s gardeners. Some residents who planted their summer gardens early are getting harvest now, but there are still a few cool season crops available.
Snap peas are a popular spring vegetable which grows well in Wakulla County’s sandy soils. This ancient plant is native to temperate regions from the Mediterranean to northwest India and flourishes in north Florida’s gardens when the weather cooperates.
Cultivation has been recorded for over 4,000 years. Like many other early foods the ease of preservation and long shelf-life made peas a popular crop. Constant selection by early farmers improved yields and localized the peas to specific areas.
Initially consumed dry as an early snack food or complement to the meat of the day, peas became the basis for soups, stews, porridge and other creative and imaginative culinary uses.
For today’s dietary considerations, snap peas are a vegetable which contain carbohydrates. The primary source of energy in vegetables is from this starch.
Most vegetables have a relatively high water and fiber content so the amount of starch in a serving tends to be much lower than other sources of starch, such as grain products. Some vegetables, including peas and other legumes, have more sugars and fiber.
Additionally, snap peas are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, along with iron and manganese. They are also a good choice for a low sodium diet.
Growing snap peas is as simple as planting in rows and providing a trellis or other structure to climb. The next sugar snap pea crop can be planted in September.
Gardening is an excellent activity for youth. It can lead to a lifelong passion for an activity which promotes a healthy lifestyle and awareness of the natural world.
A new 4-H Gardening Club is forming this summer. All youth ages eight to 18 who are interested in gardening and plant science are encouraged to join.
The club will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. The club will every Tuesday through September 2015.
The club members will grow a garden from start to finish with an early fall harvest. The club will focus on and explore applied scientific concepts in agriculture and horticulture.
All participating youth will design and install gardens, grow and maintain the plants, and harvest their successes. Warm season snap peas will be on the crop list.
There is currently one spring variety pea varieties in the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension demonstration garden. Sugar snap cultivar “Sugar Ann” is growing well and producing, but will be gone soon to give way for the change of seasons.
To learn more about growing and using peas in Wakulla County and the 4-H gardening program, contact your UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/