Keen gardeners here on
the West Coast often mark Valentine’s Day, February
14th, as a day for planting garden peas. While the weather
may be mild at this time of the year, the soil is still
quite cold which often results in poor germination.
In addition, peas started in very cold soil are more
susceptible to root rot and other soil-borne diseases.
However, with a little planning and a few shortcuts,
even gardeners who have to wait for a thaw to plant
can get a jump on their pea harvest.
The hardest decision to
make is choosing a variety. If you prefer shelling peas,
I would recommend Maestro, Green Arrow, or Progress
#9. These varieties are relatively early and give
good yields. If you have a cooler season & are willing
to wait for your peas, Alderman (Tall Telephone) is
amazingly sweet. For snap peas, Sugar Snap is an old-time
favourite with excellent taste. However, the vines are
often 6ft tall. For a shorter earlier-maturing variety,
try Sugar Mel or Sugar Ann. Finally, for snow peas,
I love Oregon
Sugar Pod as well as Oregon Giant. Even if some
of these pods get lost in the foliage and end up forming
peas, I’ve found them to be quite sweet.
Although peas can survive
weather down to 40 F, the seeds still require warmth
to germinate. Cold, damp soil will retard germination,
making the seeds susceptible to fungus & insect
damage. An easy trick is to start the germination indoors.
Pea seeds are easily sprouted between damp paper towel
and once the root appears from the seed, it can be planted
outside with a higher chance of survival. In colder
areas where the ground is still thawing, the seeds can
be grown as transplants for a couple of weeks longer.
Some sort of trellis will
be required and should be erected before the plants
emerge. Most peas grow to a height of 3 ft although
many of the heirloom varieties can reach 6ft or more.
Pea netting or even fish netting is ideal to allow the
tendrils to form a good grip. If trellising just isn’t
in the picture for your garden, I would recommend growing
a semi-leafless pea variety like Novella II. The plants
produce an abundance of tendrils and can support themselves
if planted about 1 inch apart.
will rise and will support growth outside. Whether you’re
direct seeding or transplanting, peas grown in early
spring will benefit from the addition of inoculant.
Peas, like other members of the legume family, have
the ability to supply their own nitrogen from the atmosphere
through a relationship they have with Rhizobia bacteria.
Although rhizobia are
naturally occurring, in cold soil, they are not very
active. Inoculant contains millions of these rhizobia
bacteria and often comes in the form of a powder. Gardeners
can either coat the seeds directly (like “Shake &
Bake”) or mix inoculant into the soil where the transplants
will grow. Either way, you will see a benefit. In trials,
inoculated pea plants yielded 77% more peas than uninoculated
plants. One word of caution, once the inoculant is moistened,
use it all & do not let it dry out or you will kill
Since peas can fix their
own nitrogen, they require less nitrogen in their fertilizer.
A fertilizer too rich in N (the first number) will promote
leafy growth and delay flower & pod production.
Before planting, compost or aged manure can be dug in.
Peas also respond well to the addition of phosphorus
(the middle number) so digging in bonemeal or rock phosphate
will help with pea production.
and extra phosphorus will all help your peas to get
a jump on the weather and produce a bounty of harvest.
The geraniums you’ve
been nursing indoors probably are getting tall and
leggy due to the lack of natural light in winter.
It’s a good idea to cut them back to one foot tall.
Get your seed orders
in. Remember to keep your summer vacations in mind
when choosing planting dates – you don’t want to be
away when everything matures.
Branches of forsythia,
pussy willow, spirea, and dogwood can be forced for
indoor bloom. Make long, slanted cuts when collecting
the branches and place the stems in a vase of water.
Change the water every four days. They should bloom
in about three weeks.
Hello fellow Earthlings,
and welcome to the patio. In this discussion we will
be touching on some fun ways to extend our gardening
addictions through the winter by gardening in containers.
So let’s don our cool weather gear and take a trip
out to the potting shed.
Gardening in containers
is a wonderful way to keep your prized plants close
to living spaces and, of course, mobile in case
of severe weather. During extreme cold plants in
containers can be easily moved to protect them,
they can be moved out of severe winds, and can even
be brought indoors if weather conditions get too
inhospitable. One other great thing about gardening
in containers is the window garden.
Sunny kitchen windows are some of my favorite spots
for indoor window gardens. These windows are often
located right above the kitchen sink and the increased
humidity from this proximity to periodic running
water and steam really allows us to grow a number
of different types of plants. Some favorite plants
for the kitchen window are certainly culinary herbs.
There is nothing like having the luxury of a sprig
of fresh thyme or a few fresh basil leaves when
cooking. And when your family and guests compliment
you on your culinary prowess, you can show them
your lovely herb garden in the window. For those
individuals who love colorful foliage plants, leaf
lettuces make very decorative houseplants during
the winter season. I have a friend that transplanted
from California to Wisconsin, and really missed
her orange and lime trees. Two years ago I sent
her one dwarf tree of each and now she has citrus
that ripens indoors. The trees are decorative and
her guests really get a kick out of her indoor (sunporch)
citrus grove when it is forty below outside. She
takes the trees outside late in the spring after
the threat of frost is past and her trees spend
the summer out in the sunniest part of her patio.
When the weather begins to cool and frost is eminent,
she moves the trees indoors to protect them. She
has now graduated to a dwarf avocado and is actually
growing coffee beans in what are considered rather
impossible climate conditions.
As with all types
of gardening, your passion and your imagination
are the only things that can limit the possibilities
for gardening indoors in containers during the cool
season. If space is an issue try smaller plants
like herbs and some mini veggies. A pot full of
carrots is a beautiful display of greenery that
looks a lot like a fern. But the goodies under the
ground will be sweet miniatures of the ones that
grow outdoors when the weather is warmer. Romaine,
Endive, and some of the designer lettuce varieties
grow so fast that you can actually trim a few leaves
off to make a sandwich or salad each week or every
day depending on how many you grow. The idea of
having fresh, nutritious food growing in the house
really lowers the occurrences of cabin fever and,
although it seems odd, brings more fresh oxygen
into the house. These fast growing plants are amazing
air fresheners as well.
I think my favorite
thing about growing edible indoors in containers
during cold weather is how children begin to take
active interest in the process. Kids are naturally
inquisitive and have a tireless hunger for knowledge.
If you can provide them with clever home projects
when they are stuck inside, you will see that they
may take a more active role in family gardening
projects when the weather warms up. Pick some veggies
that they like to eat and grow them indoors, make
a bit of a ceremony when harvest day comes around
and let them pick the veggies. They will be more
likely to eat vegetables when they are involved
in cultivating them. This is also a very good way
for you to teach them lessons about how nature works
and the benefits of growing food without the need
for potentially harmful chemical pesticides and
fertilizers. They will gain some interesting insights
on the environment and on plant cultivation that
will make for active family sharing of ideas as
well. Eating healthy food that they grew themselves
is a very rewarding experience for a child. Try
it and witness how they enjoy. Nurturing is a basic
human attribute that can be practiced by growing
plants. This is especially true for you apartment/
condominium dwellers without the room for domestic
Materials for these
projects are inexpensive, easy to obtain, and the
choices of containers can be as simple as a clay
pot or any reflection of your creativity. Potting
soils, natural liquid plant foods, water, and light
complete the list of needs. Container gardening
is a simple winter gardening project that will reward
you in many ways. Bring the garden inside this winter,
you’ll be glad you did. Next time we will be discussing
one of my favorite topics, compost. See you in the
Got questions? Email
the Doc at Curly@mill.net Don Trotter’s natural
gardening columns appear nationally in environmentally
sensitive publications. For more tips check out
Don’s books Natural Gardening A-Z and The Complete
Natural Gardener available at your local bookstore
or at all on line booksellers. Coming in March Don’s
new book Rose Gardening A-Z will be out. All are
from Hay House Publishing http://www.hayhouse.com/
of all, grow, buy, borrow, or steal the biggest longest
freshest daikon you can find. I was fortunate enough
to find fresh ones grown locally at a Buddhist Taiwan
bakery in my neighbourhood (I live in paradise for
stuff like this, being on the west coast of B.C….)
This daikon was fresh
as a daisy, white, easily two feet long and three
inches wide, and weighed about five pounds. It looked
like a small baseball bat! I used about half to
make one of these recipes.
Wash the daikon, and
slice in half lengthwise a little ways along the
daikon at a time. Using a sharp knife, slice in
thin slices. Each slice will be cut in half, like
a half moon.
Put the daikon pieces
in a large glass, plastic or pottery bowl (no metal).
For a fairly large quantity of daikon, (who measures?
not me) I used:
salt, maybe 1/4
sugar, closer to
rice vinegar, 1
beer (a half cup,
drink the rest….)
a big spoonful
1 chopped clove
one or two finely
chopped green onions
If you like, add chopped
sweet red peppers and jalapenos to taste, or, the
Pick up some “Chili
Sauce for Chicken” – an extremely common condiment
from Thailand, available at most imported food stores
which carry Thai, Japanese, Korean stuff. The sauce
is sweet, not too hot, and works perfectly in this
recipe. I added a couple of good size shakes of
it to the recipe. Perhaps a tablespoon or so. This
sauce is versatile, and cheap, considering. Here
in Vancouver a large bottle is worth under three
dollars Canadian. You can use it on any kind of
chicken, fish, or meat to jazz it up during baking,
frying, on the BBQ, or with cooked meats, in meat
loaf, mixed with cream cheese as a spread. The possibilities
are endless. Try it with fresh ginger, garlic and
soy sauce, as a basting sauce or marinade for chicken
or pork on the BBQ.
Back to the recipe:
Mix everything lightly.
It works to cover the bowl with something like a
plate, as it starts to ferment within an hour or
so at room temperature. After two hours or so you
can eat it. It is crispy but tender and soft and
tangy and funky, all at the same time. It’s the
kind of thing I can’t stop eating, and that’s a
good thing, because it happens to be full of trace
minerals, and has practically zero calories.
By the next day, if
you can leave it alone that long, it gets better
and better. After about twenty four hours, you should
keep it in the fridge or outside. By then, it has
turned into real home-made “Kim Chi”, the hallmark
of Korean cuisine. Every Korean person has his or
her own particular version, usually made with the
basic ingredients of chinese cabbage (sui choy),
daikon (lo bok), onions, etc. and buried in the
ground in big pots.
You can use other
things in these pickles: Anything goes. Last year
I tried a similar thing with Komatsuna (japanese
spinach mustard) – but you can use any green, chinese
Sharon Hanna is a
garden writer and avid cook based in Vancouver,
BC. Read her latest articles on Starting Seed, Praying
Mantis and more at: Themestream