Yes It is Cold, But…

hand of gardener planting seed of green pea in the soil

If you love fresh veggies, there is one to plant in February

Gardeners, dig out your gloves – maybe your hat and scarves too. It’s time to start your garden; really, it is. For those of you who are afflicted by winter doldrums, gather your tools and get your hands in the soil now. Dream of some tasty produce you’ll be able to harvest soon – if you get out and plant this month it may really happen. Some of you may not believe there are any seeds which survive planting in the winter, but there is.The delicious results are worth gardening in the cold.

Legumes called Alaskan peas (Pisum sativum ‘Alaska’) are the seeds to sow. The first year I found this particular pea, I honestly couldn’t believe I could plant this in February and have fresh peas in under 60 days. But I was wrong and the seeds survived the cold temperatures and the crop harvest was very successful; so much so that I never had an opportunity to cook any of them – the peas were devoured raw because they were so fresh and tasty.

If you are new to gardening or an avid gardener, it doesn’t matter. Try planting these peas. I’ve included some general information to assist you with your chilly cultivating endeavor.

Alaskan pea growing information.

  • Alaskan peas grow up to 3 feet tall, and need to be trellised in some manner.
  • The plants will mature in about 56 days – not so bad if you sow seeds in February, as you will be able to eat them by April. By the way, this pea variety has one of the earliest harvest. Nice, isn’t it?
  • Ideal for chilly conditions and the pea plant tends to fade quickly once the weather heats up – here in Virginia, it is ideal to start in early February as we can get hot, sometimes really hot during the spring.
  • Alaskan peas require full-sun (or part-shade if you plant later than February). Make sure when you plant them, you sow seeds two inches apart.
  • For optimum growth and health, keep the soil moist, but not drenched.
  • The seeds germinate within 7 to 14 days and will grow the best when temperatures over 45 degrees, sometimes a little lower.
  • If you want to harvest peas well into spring (maybe even early summer), simply plant additional seeds about every two weeks until mid-spring. When the weather warms too much, which is common in this area, it will inhibit growth and the overall productivity of this crop. However if you want to test your “green thumb” and continue planting in a shady area in mid-spring, go for it. Personally, I have not experienced much success with this method, but it may be worth trying yourself.

Need help growing vegetables?

If you are not sure how to begin your garden, or want to speak with the experts, our county offers a free resource – The Master Gardener Help Desk. The Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Agent office is located at 24 Pelham Street, Warrenton. The master gardeners are volunteers with vast knowledge on all things plant and soil related. These gardeners are pleasant and always willing to impart their knowledge to educate the community. Walk-ins, emails, online submissions and phone calls are welcome. Their office is located at 24 Pelham Street in Warrenton.


Debbie Eisele
About Debbie Eisele 63 Articles
Debbie Eisele is a freelance writer and the Community Outreach Coordinator for Hero’s Bridge, a nonprofit serving older veterans. She lives in Warrenton with her husband and twin daughters.

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