Helpful Tips for a Successful Pea Harvest in the Big Sky State
I penciled up an article about growing corn in Montana a few weeks back.
Folks seemed to get a kick from the information, so I decided to scribble something up about growing peas in Montana.
Over the years, I've had much more luck growing peas than corn so you can put more faith in this article. haha
One of the best things about growing peas is that they are a nitrogen-fixing plant.
This means that they enrich the soil for future crops by adding nitrogen.
Pretty cool, right?
Selecting the Right Pea Varieties
Montana's climate can vary significantly across different regions, so choosing pea varieties well-suited to the local conditions is crucial.
Opt for cold-hardy, early-maturing varieties like 'Sugar Snap,' 'Green Arrow,' or 'Dakota.'
These types can withstand temperature fluctuations and mature relatively quickly, ensuring a bountiful harvest even in Montana's shorter growing season.
Timing and Planting
Timing is crucial for a successful pea crop in Montana.
Plant peas as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, usually around late April to mid-May, depending on your location.
Peas prefer cooler temperatures, so early planting allows them to grow and mature before the scorching summer heat sets in.
Before planting, prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure.
I tried a little peat moss this year, which worked well.
Peas thrive in well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Montana soils can be alkaline, so test your soil and amend it accordingly.
Plant pea seeds about 1 to 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart in rows, leaving approximately 18 to 24 inches of space between rows.
Installing a trellis or pea netting is essential for supporting the growing plants, as most pea varieties are climbers.
This allows the plants to grow vertically, maximizing space and facilitating better air circulation, reducing disease risk.
Watering and Mulching
Consistent and adequate watering is essential for pea plants, especially during flowering and pod development.
Be mindful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot.
Applying a layer of organic mulch around the plants helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weeds, and keeps the peas cleaner during the growing season.
Peas are legumes that can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, benefiting themselves and neighboring plants.
However, suppose the plants exhibit signs of nutrient deficiency. In that case, you can side-dress them with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.
Pest and Disease Management
Montana's cool climate reduces the risk of common pea pests and diseases.
However, monitoring for aphids, pea weevils, and powdery mildew is essential.
Natural pest control methods such as introducing beneficial insects or using neem oil can help manage these issues without chemical treatments.