Earth Day 2012

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On April 22nd more than a billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day.  What I find to be pretty neat is that there is a Network in the WNY area dedicated to Earth Day on an Internet website. The network is collecting “a billion acts of green” and would like to know what you are up to for Earth Day? Individuals can pledge to participate, and organizations can register what they are doing as well.  It is called “grow WNY,” and you can find it at: http://growwny.org/earth-day/act.  You will also find some great ideas if you’re looking for a way to commemorate the day. Activities for Earth Day will be happening all week as well. In Jamestown, check with the Audubon Center and Sanctuary for Saturday April 21st activities at: http://www.jamestownaudubon.org. How about joining a Drum Circle? Participating in a drum circle to celebrate Mother Earth is an ancient tradition and lots of fun too! Enter “Earth Day Drum Circle” in a search engine and I’ll bet you’ll find one in your area. Don’t forget to check with your local nurseries to see what activities or specials they are running for Earth day as well.

I actually do believe that Mother Earth is a living breathing organism and, as such, she will rejoice in our many celebrations in honor of her. (Did you watch Horton Hears a Who?) What better way to commemorate Earth Day than for us to rejoice in her goodness by planting a Spring Garden?

Now is the time for Peas pleaseYes it’s time to grow peas. How exciting! The garden season can begin. Well, almost. Peas are a cool weather crop and, as such, can be planted very early in the season, usually 1 month prior to your last frost date. Our nights have still been a wee bit too chilly with hard frost warnings so you may want to wait until the end of April to get your peas in. Additional sowings can be made 2 to 3 weeks apart. Peas produce poorly in hot weather, so an early start is always a wise strategy. They will have plenty of cool weather thru May and into June. A second crop can be sown in late summer for harvesting in late fall.

Varieties of Peas

Snap peas are eaten whole, and both the crunchy pod and the peas inside taste sweet. Snap peas yield more food per square foot than the other types.

Snow peas produce tender, flat pods that are eaten whole. Snow peas also produce the most tender vine tips for adding to salads or stir-fries.

Shell peas are often called English peas, because many fine varieties were developed in Great Britain in the 18th century. Sweet green peas are shelled from tough, inedible pods.

Soup peas produce hard, starch-filled seeds for drying inside inedible pods. Seed size and color vary with variety.

How to Plant Peas

All peas benefit from a trellis or support. Install a 6-foot-tall trellis before planting long-vined varieties. Compact varieties can be staked with unemployed tomato cages after they sprout. Peas also do well in trellised containers.

Prepare a wide planting bed by loosening the soil to at least 10 inches deep while mixing in compost. Do not use fertilizer unless your soil is very poor or low in organic matter. Plant seeds in a double row, with a row of seeds on each side of the trellis. Poke seeds into the prepared site 2 inches apart and 1 inch deep.                                                                                                                                                             

Soak pea seeds overnight in water before planting them. This will insure strong germination.

Coat pea seeds with a powdered pea/bean inoculants if you haven’t grown peas in your garden in previous years. This will provide bacteria that live on pea roots and produce nitrogen. In subsequent seasons, scatter a spade full of soil taken from last year’s pea planting site onto your new pea bed. It will contain enough bacteria to help kick-start the nitrogen-fixing process.

In the Kitchen– Many peas will be eaten before they ever reach the kitchen, because all peas, except for starchy soup peas, are great to eat raw. A 50-calorie heaping handful of snap or snow peas provide iron, fiber and one-third of your daily quota of vitamin C. Peas cook fast, so they are great to toss into stir-fried dishes. Snap and snow peas work well as finger foods to dip into salad dressings. Cook dried peas like beans, but pre-soak them for only a few hours before cooking them.

Other cool weather crops-Lettuce is the next crop that can be planted in the spring. I like to grow varieties like “cut- and-come again,” in containers as well as small head lettuce like butter crunch or sweet bib. There are only a couple of perennial vegetable crops; asparagus and rhubarb. They are also cool weather/spring crops. (More on these two in the following weeks.) For a first-time crop you are better off planting in a bed that was prepared last fall, covered with black plastic so the area will be ready for spring planting.

 

Remember to “Tread softly on Mother Earth” meaning: if you begin to work the earth too soon in the spring you can cause much damage to your soil structure. If the earth has not thawed and warmed up or is too wet, you will create a problem for yourself ruining the soil structure and will not be successful with your crop. 

 

A great magazine to subscribe to: Mother Earth News-every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh produce at home and more. The magazine Mother Earth News promises to help you cut costs without sacrificing luxuries.