Growing Peas in Tennessee | Volunteer Gardener

– Gardeners get excited every spring with the gushing of forest of flowers and the bursting buds. They know it’s time to plant peas, the very first seeds to go
in the garden every year. Peas may also be the first garden plant that humans cultivated. There are no wild ones
and they appear in gardens from Ethiopia through Asia Minor to northwest India. And dried peas were found
in the ashes of Troy, caves in Hungary, and on
sites of Swiss lake dwellers. Peas love cool weather. They need to go into the ground early as we can get the ground work. So a lot of times, we just leave the soil rough dug in the fall
so that in the spring it’s ready to go. We like to get a healthy
dose of compost on it, rough plow it, and then in the spring, that land will dry out so much quicker than if we just leave it in a cover crop or unplow it. Like other members of the
legume family of plants, peas love lime. So we like to sprinkle
a little bit of lime over the rough plowed land in the fall so that there’s plenty
of calcium in the ground the next spring when we’re getting ready to plant the peas. Lime takes a while to get incorporated into the soil biology. I like to put about 50 pound sack of lime for every thousand square feet of garden area. This is equivalent to
putting a ton of lime on an acre of land which
is what we do as farmers in Tennessee about every other year, to sweeten the soil, raise the pH and add the valuable nutrient, calcium. Some gardeners like to
soak their pea seeds before planting to get an extra jump on the season. These peas do not like hot weather, so we wanna get them in as early as we can by soaking
the seed in some water for a few days, they sort
of pre-germinates some. Pea seeds don’t germinate
well in 50 degree soil. They like it 60 degrees a lot better, course, so do I. If I’m gonna soak any kind of seed, I like to add a little bit of compost. This is some biodynamic barrel compost that we make and this is chalk full of lots of enzymes and
things that plants like so I like to put a little
of that into the water with the peas and stir it up and that way they’ll soak in some nice good healthy compost and they’ll soak that up for a few days and then we plant them. They’ll be ready to go. A type of bacteria lives
in a symbiotic relationship with the legume family of plants, which includes peas and clover. This bacteria living on the roots is able to get atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. There’s 1,400 pounds of nitrogen in the air over every square foot of soil. And this is the kind of
nitrogen that we want in our plants. It comes down through the rainfall and it’s also made by the compost and the micro organisms in the soil. We don’t really wanna have a loose nitrate from amoniums and and
urea and things like that so we as organic farmers use compost and we wanna
ensure that our legumes have the right innoculant. I’ll show you some of the, in this pea plant right here. So we carefully lift up a pea plant with the roots on it and you can see these little things. These are a very valuable form of nitrogen that we want to have in our gardens, so we grow crops like beans and peas because they improve the soil. Clovers knows as the poor man’s fertilizer because it can enrich
soils and it just doesn’t cost a lot. To ensure that our plants have this bacteria present in the soil, we can simply take some of these nodules, crush them up and add
them to our pea seed. We could take some soil from where peas have grown and sprinkle
it into the pea seed. This would do the same thing. Or, we can actually buy the microbes in a little bag. There’s 200 million viable cells per gram of these various forms of this bacteria which lives on peas and beans and Vicia and clovers and other members of the legume family. So we just sprinkle some
of this black powder onto our pea seed. Course it helps to have the
pea seed dampened a little bit. And now we know that we’ll have these very beneficial bacteria on our plants. In early spring, as soon as
the ground can be worked, we take a hoe and hoe a little furrow into that rough plowed land. I like to go about two inches deep and then we sprinkle
this pea seed in there. I put them about an inch apart or so. Some people put a double
row six inches apart and put their fence in between them, but that makes it a little
difficult to hoe out later. Peas like to grow up pretty thickly so I don’t worry about them
being to close together. We ususally just take a rake and then loosely cover them up. We wanna keep that soil
pretty loose on top because a heavy rain in
spring will pack it down a lot and we definitely
don’t want any pea seed left on top of the
ground because the birds will then know that there’s something good to eat there and birds will peck these out of the ground if they know they’re there. Peas need to be staked otherwise they fall on the ground. So this year, we put some metal T-posts every 10 or 15 feet apart
with some tobacco sticks in them and we put twine and tie that to the stakes and then we just every now and then I would push the peas up against the twine there so that they would climb up better. We gotta few vertical twines on it too, but other years I’ve done things like used woven wire or cattle panels or you can even just get some branches out of the woods, some tree branches and just stick in the ground. Somehow you need to keep the peas off the ground otherwise it gets to be a big mess. Peas and carrots are companion plants. They like to grow next to each other. So I like to plant
carrots in the pea patch, but carrots are really hard to plant and not get them too thick. So here’s another gardening trick. We’ve mixed carrot seed with sand. And then after the last cultivation of the peak when they’re up and they’re pretty well cultivated, I simply just sprinkle the carrots in sand like this. Gently rake it into the soil, and then we have carrots that come up so that hopefully, when the pea trellises come down, we have a little crop
of carrots in here too. Peas need a five year rotation before they’re planted back in the same ground again. Otherwise, it’ll get pea failure from rots and diseases and such. For English peas, we’re growing Green Arrow and Lincoln. I think I like the Green Arrows better. These are the peas that you shell. When I harvest peas, I use two hands and hold the vine and
pick with the other hand. Otherwise, you tear the vines off of your trellis. Our snow peas are Oregon Giant Sugar Pod. This is a very diseased resistant pea that makes four or five inch long pods and the peas swell up in there and they’re really good for stir frying and this is what you’ll find if you order peas at a Chinese restaurant. They’ll probably be snow peas. In the late 70s, a new
vegetable was introduced called snap peas. And these are sort of like the snow peas but they’re even more crisper, sweeter, and we just love them. Snap peas are a little bit more leggy and proning to fall over, but we grown them every year anyway. Kids love to gobble them up. They’re a great snack and you can cook them lightly, cook them a little bit if you can get them to the kitchen, but that’s kinda hard to do because they’re just so good to eat. It’s quite a challenge to get a pea crop in Tennessee because it gets so hot so quick and peas do not like hot weather. But they’re worth growing because peas are so delicious and you
can even eat the pea leaves when the plants come up in the spring, just don’t eat to many of them so you don’t kill your plants, but they’re the first green that we eat out of our garden in spring. (slow music) – We show all kinds of gardens on Volunteer Gardener,
but the favorite ones that I get to do and see are the ones where real gardeners, dirt gardeners really get into creating something beautiful and unique on their own and in
this particular garden, these three crate murdles behind me and one other, and a big oak, was all that was here
when this garden started seven years ago and you can really see what they have done in just a short period of time. Barbara, thanks so much for having us to your garden today. You just have an incredible
selection of plants growing here of the shade of this mighty, mighty oak. I want you to point out
some of your favorite things for us. – Well, I love the color green and that’s one of the things
that a woodland garden affords you to be able to have. – Right. – Lots of variations of the color green. Here we have the Helleborus, – Yeah.
– Ginger and a sensitive fern, which comes together to make a nice textural
as well as a variation of the color green. [Troy] Sure. So you’ve got those big
broad sort of hand shaped leaves of the Hellebore, the Lenten Rose, and then this little
ginger with the silver variegation on it. – Yes.
– And then those big almost kind of palm-like leaves of the sensitive fern that
do give you such great color contrast even though it’s all green and I think that’s something that so many gardeners forget because all of our plants or so many of them have green leaves, and we sort of forget that green is a color too. – Yes. Yes. It’s a great part of a garden. Just that the foliage and the back drop that it gives even to flowers – Right
– when the plant is blooming. – Right. So yo came here from Indiana about seven years ago. – Correct. – And I would imagine that the hostas probably grew a little
bit better in Indiana than they do down here in the south. – They grew quite larger and that’s been one of my challenges here with the size. Adjusting to the fact that they don’t because the winters aren’t as cold here – Right.
– as in Indiana and of course the situation
with the moles and – Voles. – Correct.
– Yes. – Yes.
– Always something that we’re after. Back to the hostas in the
pots for just a minute. I think for us southern gardeners, that’s something important to note is that when you have them in containers in the winter time, that soil gets colder around their roots and for hostas that’s a really important thing. It’s why you had better luck with them further north than we have
with them in the south so for southern gardeners if you can grow some of your big hostas in pots, they’ll actually perform better – Better.
– Because they get that cold weather that they need. So I have to ask you as I stand here and my foot is on this
giant oak tree root. The big oak tree, obviously
is the center piece of the garden, but for your as a gardener friend or foe? – Well it’s a friend for the most part. It’s a challenge planting
between the roots and making sure the other
plants get the proper nourishment and water that they need, but I find that if each
spring I do a broadcasting that keeps the tree as well
as the plants very happy. – So you’re broadcasting
a little fertilizer each spring to keep things happy. The oak tree as well as the plants growing under it have been thriving.
– Correct. – Like your Solomon
– Definitely. Seal here is doing really well and is obviously thriving. – Yes.
– And then you’ve got some hydrangeas mixed in here and some mixed containers that have hostas and ferns. – Yes. And they get a dose of fertilizer when I broadcast as well. – So everything gets one
good dose of fertilizer in the spring.
– The spring. Yes. – Okay, I’m fascinated by this
plant with the giant leaves, tell me about this. – [Voiceover] On one of our shopping trips to a shade garden, she was selling these and we brought these from Indiana with us. I’ve always referred to
them as umbrella plant. – Umbrella plant. – Is it part of the ligularia? – It’s not actually related to ligularia. The botanical name is Pedicidis. – Okay. – Sometimes I’ve heard also people call it dinosaur plant because it just
looks sort of pre-historic. – Yes.
– And so big. – Yes.
– And we’re standing in a patch of it here
and it obviously spreads. – Correct. – So have you had to manage it somehow or have it so far have you been able to just kind of let it wander? – Actually, I have decided to let it play a part in the garden itself by taking it from places that it doesn’t work and putting it in places where – Where it does.
– Where it does work a little bit more, yes. So, it takes a bit of maintaining. – Even though it does
require a little bit of maintenance, yes we grow some big hostas and some of those have pretty good size leaves, but this is
almost tropical looking. It has that
– Correct. giant foliage that just is so beautiful and in contrast to all of the ferns and the things that
have that finer texture in the shade garden, this just really gives you that big broad beautiful green leaf. – Yes it does. – Well you said that most of your hostas, your big hostas anyway have done a little bit better in containers. – Correct.
– But you do have some in the ground
and I have to ask you about this one because it’s so beautiful. – Yes. It’s one of the
ones that have worked very well for me putting it in the ground the Blue Mammoth. And I love it because of
the size of the leaves ’cause I love large leaves as
well as the blue green color. – And then you also
mentioned that you’ve begun experimenting with a plant
that not a lot of people here in Tennessee grow,
but the ligularias. – Correct. Because they offer that same accent for me; I like the large leaves – Right.
– And of course they have the texture to them. With the zagged edges and everything. – And they also have a
yellow bloom on them. A yellowish to
– Yes yellowish-orange bloom
– Yes. later in the summer. – They offer color as well that way.
– So they give you a little late summer color through their flowers and one thing about the ligularias is that they do like a little
moisture and I notice where you have them in the garden might be places where
you get a little drainage that comes through
– Correct. or a little low spot
where they do get that little bit of extra moisture
that they really need. – And Troy, over here
it’s also a ligularia that offers a bit of
variegation and brings a bit of light into the garden
and it also has the big leaf which I so enjoy. – Well, I love sitting here
under this shady arbor. How did you decide on this piece for the back of the yard? – Well we enjoy outdoor
spaces because it allows us to be able to come
together and be comfortable and this particular space is made possible by a wonderful neighbor
who gifted us a portion of their wisteria. Which is what gardeners
do, they love to share. – To share, absolutely. – We all share.
– And within the last three years it’s managed to cover and offer a wonderful room – Right. – that we can use and entertain. – [Voiceover] Right. Well,
I know that also you have space to expand. – [Voiceover] Yes. – [Voiceover] Are there
plans for the future and what are they?
– [Voiceover] Definitely. Well we are looking to
create more of a naturalize native Tennessee-like space that extends beyond this
more like woodland setting that we’re in now. And I’m really excited about it. Step by step process. – [Voiceover] So right
now you’re doing a little reclamation and – [Voiceover] Correct.
– [Voiceover] cleaning up of the woods and removal
of either invasive plants or just wild weeds that – [Voiceover] Correct
– [Voiceover] are in the way of doing what
you really want to do. – [Voiceover] Yes and my
husband has made great progress since we’ve been here. A ways to go, but excited about extending the garden.
– New things to come. – Yes. – Thank you so much for having us today. It has been a pleasure to be here and the garden is beautiful.
– [Barbara] Thank you. It’s been wonderful having you. I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing your time to visit my garden. (slow music) – [Marty DeHart] Combination
pots are incredibly popular. And these days we have
such a wide selection of plants to choose from and a lot of times what
looks great together doesn’t necessarily have
the same requirements in terms of how much
water it takes, etcetera. Particularly the watering. Today, I’m gonna put
together a combination pot for you that has a succulent
with non-succulents. You may say, gosh, the
succulent you don’t wanna water it too much. Here’s how you do it. Every pot has a hole, drainage hole or if it doesn’t you’ve got problems. And the classic thing
is to take busted piece of pot and place over
that hole so the dirt doesn’t come out, but
another thing you can do if you don’t wanna trash
a pot or don’t have one is you know those
obnoxious styrofoam peanuts that we get when we buy stuff? And it comes and you’re
like it goes everywhere and it’s a mess? Save it. This is what it’s for. You just put that in.
It’ll block up the hole. It won’t go through. Keep the dirt from going out and it doesn’t add to
the weight of the pot. If you are, by the way,
potting a great big container, put several inches of these at the bottom. It really works great,
so that just stays there. The wind wants to blow
it around right now, but I’ll make sure it’s
in the right place. Now I just open this bag. My trusty boxcutter that
lives with me always. You can see this dirt. You can see that it’s rich. It’s got a lot of compost in it, but it’s got these hard little expanded slate; they’re light weight. This doesn’t weigh a whole lot. They’ve been heated so they expand, but it really improves the drainage. And plants like succulents
and all kinds of plants love this. Conifers love this stuff. So I’m just gonna put some in the pot. Now what I’m combining today are three things. This is the succulent. This is echeveria. It looks like hen and
chicks and you can see it puts the little babies
out, it also sends up one stalk of really nice, usually
yellow or orange flowers depending on the species. This is gonna serve as my filler. If you have read about making containers, the formula is spiller, filler, thriller. Thriller’s the big thing. Filler’s the middle size thing, and spiller, which is gonna be this goes over the edge and it gives you interest in heights and different textures and shapes. This is gonna be my spiller. This is Mecardonia Gold Dust that has this delightful cascading habit. Sweet little yellow
flowers all summer long. Love sun as do all these plants that I’ve got, so one thing you do is I don’t know how to make a pot that has a full shade plant combined with a full sun plant and have that be successful. I can put succulents with non-succulents, but not shade with non-shade. And the thriller is Angelonia. This is a fabulous non stop bloomer. Has very vertical habit as you can see. This particular one is called lavender. And I am just gonna
stick him in like this. Now I will come back and fill in and tuck very carefully. You may be thinking, what about fertilizer in this pot? Well, anything in a pot,
even if it’s something that will grow in pretty
crummy soil in nature, if it’s in a pot it has no where to go so you’ve got to feed it. And you feed it a lot more
than you would feed it if it were in the ground. So even these would need it. Now I don’t use osmocote,
but a lot of people do and have great success. I have nothing against
it, I just don’t use it. But you could put mix
osmocote in with the soil, as you are filling to
keep it fed for months. What I would do myself, is I would come back in a couple of weeks, water this in, let it start to get
established and what I’ll do is in a couple of weeks, I’ll
come back and sprinkle a little Flower-tone, which
is an organic granular fertilizer over the surface
of this and water that in. And that will keep it going and I might do that several
times over the course of the summer. Depending on how hot it is, but because you water container a lot, even a container with succulents. Any kind of container’s
gonna dry out fast. Once again, much faster than
the Earth in the ground, so you do keep an eye on it. But you can see how sweet that looks. And one thing about
containers is there’s a thing called a bone (mumbles) effect. But you say, Angeloni,
I’ve had it get huge in my garden. Yeah, but it won’t in here. It’ll stay sizable
because root constriction down sizes plants, so whatever
you put into a container will never outgrow the container. It just won’t. That’s
the way nature works. So things tend to stay in a nice shape. This will spread and fill. This will get wider like this, and this will fill out the back. Perfect for your patio. Any place. This is a real hot weather
container by the way, that I’ve put together. But it’s very nice combination of colors and it’ll be pretty all
summer until hard frost. I’ve put together a couple
of other little combinations that are quite possible that I also like. This ones are kind of a hotter color. This is the succulent is this
little sedum that’s gonna spill out over the edge of this pretty pot and it’s got a cream that
goes to this orange gerber and this hot red salvia. This is salvia coccinia by the way. Hummingbird magnet plant. Put this out on your patio
and you will be visited. This is once again, the thriller. This is the filler. This
would be the spiller. And then you can do these
little interest pots where you break that formula, that code that three part code goes for a container that’s big enough to hold three plants. But I really love this little combination. This would do in part shade. This little echevaria will
take a little bit of shade as will this lovely beautiful little double begonia, wax begonia. This wax begonia will
just get about like this. The echevaria will stay low like this, and I love the contrast of
these colors against this pot. And remember, the most
critical thing is put them in the right dirt. This really fast draining,
rich but fast draining soil that every plant in the pot will love including the succulents. – [Voiceover] Next time
on Volunteer Gardener, we tour Sinking Creek Farm
where sustainable farming and community outreach
are the main components. And we’ll meet an artist who specializes in metal work for outdoor spaces. That’s next time on Volunteer Gardener. (slow music)


  1. The deer devoured my peas so I covered them. I will uncover and throw some lime around them. Thank you for showing how to plant carrots mixing in sand. This is a HUGE tip:) I love the colorful flowers on the peas:) I got some field peas from Johnny's and they have purple flowers. Why are some flowers purple and others pink? I had pink flowers in June from the same seed stock?

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