Gardening with Kids: Peas in a Pod, Kids in the DirtWith spring days happening upon us more frequently, families are excited to get outside under blue skies and bright sun. One great way to spend quality outdoor time as a family is to involve the kiddos in planting their own garden. Sugar Snap Peas are an early-Summer introduction to a super easy and tasty crop for kids (and their busy parents). The entire pod is edible, and only rarely will a delicious and crunchy pea pod make it all the way into the house to adorn a salad or stir fry! One sugar snap pea seed will grow a healthy handful of pods later in the season.
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- Sugar snap peas can be grown in containers or in the ground. You will need a container with at least 8” of soil depth and 8” of soil width for up to 4 seeds. Use a good, organic potting soil.
- Or, you can grow in the ground. A nice suggested size for beginning gardeners is 2 foot x 2 foot, and you can plant up to 18-20 seeds in this area.
- You need one ‘tomato cage’ for up to 6 seeds for containers (smaller cage) or 12 seeds for ground gardens (larger cage). There are many fun new colors of tomato cages available!
- One small packet of pea seed will work for these size gardens. Choose something with “sugar” in the name. We like using organic for all our seeds, especially those that children will be eating later as plants.
What do you do?
- Prepare your containers by adding organic potting soil, or your ‘ground garden’ by digging it shovel deep and mixing in a bag of good organic potting soil or compost (such as composted steer manure). You can also work in up to a gallon of peat moss (available in varying size bales) for this size plot, being sure to either soak the peat moss in a 5-gallon bucket beforehand, or watering it very, very thoroughly afterwards.
- Put your tomato cage into the soil deeply to secure it from wind, leaving around 4” from the ground to the first level.
- Soak your pea seeds for up to 24 hours (but not longer) in room temperature water. Drain.
- Plant peas 1-2” apart and half an inch deep just under the cage’s bottom level, so that the plants can reach up and climb as they grow.
- Water the soil until it begins to drain out the bottom of a container, or until the ‘ground garden’ soil is nice and damp (dig a test hole away from the seeds to make sure the water has penetrated and the soil is dark).
- Once they come up, mulch around your peas! Use a fine wood chip mulch, chopped hay or dried grass clippings from an untreated (no “Weed & Feed” fertilizers used) lawn. Wood chips and hay can be up to 3” deep, or dried grass clippings up to ½” deep. This mulch will protect the soil from drying out too quickly and will also slowly turn into compost to feed your plants.
- Water 2-3 times per week for ‘ground gardens’, or every other day for containers. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer (fish emulsion is amazing!) once a month.
- Begin to harvest in about 8 weeks after planting. Enjoy!