St. PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day marks the traditional kick-off of the vegetable growing season, the arbitrary date when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re supposed to plant peas. Like other spring greens, peas hate hot weather. So the earlier you can get them into the ground and growing the better.
Somehow I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think many gardeners in the Lower Hudson Valley got their pea seeds into the ground over the weekend. Maybe weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be able to glimpse a little dirt under the snow by next weekend.
I tried to grow sweet peas last year and failed miserably. When the National Gardening Bureau named them as flower of the year a couple of years ago, I did a story for the paper. In my reporting, I remember Joan Gussow, a great gardener (and garden writer) in Piermont, warning me that you really need to be in England to grow them well.
Right she was. To get a head start, I planted the seeds in pots indoors in early spring. They germinated easily and then did just OK for a few weeks. But when we got a hot and humid spell in late May, most of them just petered out completely.
A few staggered on till mid-summer and I got a handful of sad blooms on a few of the plants. Nothing like the armload of fragrant cut flowers I envisioned for the house.
A cardinal rule of gardening rule says donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give up on a plant until you kill it three times, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m done with sweet peas (unless of course I find leftover seeds from last year in my stash in the freezer).
What about you? Any luck out there with sweet peas? Any advice?