Let There Be Peas

They’ve germinated! They’ve germinated! Oh, the joy!

Yep, I get this way when anything I plant germinates, but especially when it’s sugar snap peas because they are so yummy come harvest time. I’ll be eating these sweeties all summer, grazing my way around the garden.

I’ve had an earworm since I spotted this shoot. It’s a little song I learned in primary school and it goes ♫ Let there be peace Earth, and let it begin with me♫

Okay, I can hear the groans from here…

However, it got me thinking…

With the kids off school now perhaps you can do some science at home with seeds. Pea or bean seeds are good because they’re big and easy to see. The added bonus is you can eat the produce in a couple of months… Imagine, when we’re all emerging out from under our coronavirus rocks and having that joyous reunion bbq, you could serve up a bowl of peas you grew yourself. I recommend growing Sugar Snaps or Mange Touts so you don’t need to do all that pesky podding. You’ll be far too busy socializing to sit at home and shell peas!

Another good one to use is sunflower seeds, not least for the gorgeous flowers at the end.

Turn it into a homeschooling science project. Kids could take a photo record of it. Older kids would gain a lot of skills by keeping measurements. Kids from here on in I’m talking to you too…

Source seeds. The supermarket might be out of toilet paper but next time you are in, and not buying more than you need, take a look at their seeds section. Seeds are relatively cheap. I got 50 for €2.00 from an online garden centre I use – Quickcrop.ie. Dried peas from the dry goods section might work. and tinned peas and frozen peas definitely won’t BUT it makes for a great comparative experiment with younger kids.

Soak seeds. I find soaking the peas or beans seeds for 24 hours gets them off to a great start. I don’t usually soak sunflower seeds but you can experiment. (Let me know how it goes.) Speaking of experiments you can set a couple of different soaking scenarios and compare to a seed that has not been soaked. Perhaps soak seeds in vinegar (acid) and some in a soapy solution (weak alkali). Or vary the length of time you soak the seeds to see if there’s a difference.

‘Plant’ seed. Set your seed up so it is easy to view and measure. I would use a glass or a jar with scrunched up paper in it – something that is absorbent, like kitchen roll – toilet roll is no good as it will not hold its structure – and it’s not to be wasted at times like this. In school, we used blotting paper but it seems like a real relic of the past now.

Notice that I have positioned the seed against the glass, for ease of viewing and halfway up the glass so that you can add water at the bottom without drowning the seed. Keep a couple of centimeters of water in the bottom of the glass so the environment is damp. (This pea has not been soaked and that’s why it’s wrinkly. A soaked one is smooth.)

Keep records. Note the date you start. How long you soaked, if you soaked, the seed. Measure everything you can think of – the width of the seed, the weight of the seed. When the seed germinates you’ll have a front-row seat. Note the date the seed germinates. Describe what it looks like. Take a picture of it from the same angle at the same time every day/or x hours. Measure the length of the shoot or the plumule (the bit that grows up). What colour is it? What else is noteworthy about it? Measure the length of the root or the radicle (the bit that grows down). What colour is it? What else is noteworthy about it? Does the shoot/plumule grow in any particular direction?

Plant outside. When the seeding has at least two or three branches with sets of leaves on them (approx 15-20 cm tall) plant it out in soil the garden or in a big pot. Be really gentle with the roots. Many pea plants are climbers and will do best if supported against a fence.

Harvest: By July you might see white flowers on your pea plant – they’re pretty, but don’t pick them.

Let the bees visit them. In time you’ll see the flowers die and wither and a green pod forming – those are your peas. When the pods get a little fat you can eat them, pod and all if you grew Sugar Snaps or Mange Touts.

Experiments – choose one thing to change, one or two things to measure and keep everything else the same. Draw up tables to record the data.

  • You can compare using seed, frozen peas, tinned peas, dry good peas (or beans).
  • You can measure the width and weight of each seed (do a minimum of 6) and see if the length of shoot and root is related to the size of the seed.
  • You can put seeds in different soaking mediums – water, coke, vinegar – use your imagination but try to have a good reason behind trying it.
  • You can keep your seeds at different temperatures – sunny window sill inside. same window but outside.
  • You can compare seeds in the light with ones in the dark.
  • Of you have a range of different seed you could investigate which ones germinate fastest.
  • Try as many different ideas as you can think of. Have fun with it. Sure what else would you be doing right now?

Easy peasy, right? Bottom line folks – let’s give peas a chance!

Sorry – couldn’t resist… for more posts on peas with a little spot of quirky humour from this blog check out The Peas Treaty.

And some links about similar experiment setups

Keep safe folks – stay at home…and garden.

Byddi Lee