Salisbury, MD. If you planted your Sugar Peas (sugar peas, snap peas, sugar snaps, snow peas, pea pods, whichever might be your naming preference) on or around St. Patrick's Day, you are most likely knee deep in Sugar Peas right now!
The weather this spring, while it may not have pleased many of the Gardening Grannies, it sure seemed to suit the Sugar Peas. As a result, the Grannies are enjoying a bumper crop of the delectable little rascals. The growing season for Sugar Peas is fairly short and, since they require cool weather, the seasons here on the Delmarva Peninsula are pretty much limited to spring and fall. Spring is easy. Try to get Sugar Peas in the ground on or around St. Patrick's Day for your spring planting. Fall is a little trickier and most of the Grannies think it's not worth the risk.
Sugar Peas are generally about a 60-day crop from seeds to the table so you would count backwards from several weeks from the first anticipated frost date which averages around October 20, give or take a week. Then count back another 60 days. You would, therefore, want to plant your fall sugar pea crop somewhere around early to mid-August.
If you haven't planted them before, the Gardening Grannies wish to assure you that they are a really easy crop to grow. You plant the little peas according to packet directions, put up a trellis of the height suggested and wait. Once in awhile, you'll have to remind a non-conformer that it is supposed to grow up the trellis and not sprawl across the ground but that's about it. Assuming you have reasonably fertile soil, they don't require additional fertilizer and do add nitrogen back into the soil. This will be beneficial to the crop that follows when you pull the plants out in June.
Sugar Peas are best picked when the peas are just beginning to swell in the pod. Preparing them is almost as easy as growing them. Pick early or late in the day, as opposed to mid-day. Rinse them off and "string" them. If you are new to this process, you just grasp the pod in one hand and pinch the stem end where the pea had been attached to the vine with the other. Just on the pea side of the stem end. pinch hard and pull up and back across the pod. This will release the "string" which is in the "seam" across the top of the pod and that's all there is to it. You can accomplish this with your fingers but most of the Grannies prefer a small paring knife. You don't absolutely have to "string" the peas, but the Grannies believe that it makes a finer table product.
To cook them, spray a bit of Butter Pam on a wok or skillet. Add a splash of cooking oil (think a light olive oil) and heat the pan. Pop in the Sugar Peas and stir fry for a few minutes, until the pods become a brighter shade of green. Remove from pan while still crunchy, sprinkle with sea salt and serve. Sugar Peas are particularly good, we think, served with short grained brown rice and jumbo shrimp. Delicious and good for you!
If you didn't get your Sugar Peas in this year, don't fret. Stop by your favorite local farmers market early in the morning and see what they have available. The Gardening Grannies have a firm 4-step policy regarding local farmers markets that they would like to share:
1) Make up your store list the night before
2) Stop by the farmers market first (if they don't have what you are looking for, ask who is growing it and when it is likely to be ready)
3) Be open to trying something new (the farmer is often a good source of great recipes)
4) Finish up your list at the supermarket.
Buy local. Buy Delmarva.
The Gardening Grannies live, love and garden on the Delmarva Peninsula. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.