What type of containers for peas?

melanieweitzenfeldApril 15, 2008

I have super sugar snap peas which I'm in the process of hardening off. What type of containers would be best suited for these? What kind would be best for snow peas? Thank you in advance!

Melanie

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justaguy2(5)

A well shaded one. Not so much shade for the peas, but the container itself as the peas want cool weather and soil and containers with direct sun on them heat up fast (higher than air temps).

Myself I would go with a long, narrow container like those 6" wide x 6"deep x 30" long plastic containers available everywhere. That's enough to do a double row along the entire length.

With this shallow a container though, prefer a fast draining mix or you will have a soggy bottom layer of mix with a dry top one and growth will be adversely impacted. If you are familiar with 'Al's mix' from this forum that would be a good choice.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 2:48PM
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melanieweitzenfeld

Justaguy2,

Thanks! Is the 6" x 6" x 30" deep enough?! Someone posted that the roots of peas can grow 2 ft, so the container should be that deep. It seemed a bit big to me, but I'm new at all this! I would love to know that the container size you suggested is deep enough. And with that width I can do a double row? How much space between plants would you recommend? Thank you so much for the helpful response!

Melanie

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 4:13PM
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justaguy2(5)

Here is the thing about roots. They don't care about depth, they care about volume.

In nature roots might go a foot or more down into the soil, but that is to get ample moisture and nutrients. If ample moisture and nutrients are present in 6" of soil then 6" is enough. If ample moisture and nutrients are present in 1" of soil then 1" is enough.

There is a limit though. To get desirable plant size and yield we do want roots to have ample area to spread out in, but this area doesn't need to be depth, it can be width.

More to the point, yes, a 6" wide 'trough' type container of 6" depth is ample for snow peas in a double row with 6" spacing (stagger the rows for a total of 3" spacing). I have done it and did not notice a difference between these plants and plants in my raised bed with the same spacing.

One difference between ground peas and container peas is that ground peas only need to be provided with nitrogen until soil temps warm a bit and bacteria form around the roots. The peas will then take most of the N needs from the air and send it to the roots where bacteria will form nodules around the roots that the plants then use the N from.

In a container this process isn't as reliable so go ahead and provide a little nitrogen with your fertilizer program. For kicks, when the peas are done for the season look at the roots to see if you see small, roundish balls on the roots. These would be the N containing nodules made by bacteria. It's kind of cool. If you do see these feel free to yank those roots and stick them in the root area of another plant for added N which will be released as those nodules are decomposed. (beans and other legumes operate the same way)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 5:19PM
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melanieweitzenfeld

Thanks justaguy2! Does what you wrote in the last post apply as well to the sugar snap peas? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 6:04PM
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wormgirl(z8 WA)

The best peas I've grown so far were in a container :-)

I used an 18" wide 12" high nursery pot and 'Tacoma' peas, which are self supporting. I planted in concentric circles in the pot and the peas grew in a lovely column. It was beautiful and delicious!

I agree the "veranda box" style would also work well. There is nothing better than fresh peas eaten in the garden! Good luck.

Jenn

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 6:54PM
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justaguy2(5)

Does what you wrote in the last post apply as well to the sugar snap peas? Thanks!

Yes, they are the same thing. Both snow peas and sugar snap peas are edible pod peas as opposed to peas that grow in pods too thick and fibrous to be considered edible (shelling peas). They both have good cold hardiness and prefer cool conditions to hot.

For best culinary quality harvest both when you just barely see peas in the pod, don't wait for the peas to grow and bulge the pod much.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 7:10PM
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boondoggle(9Sunset20)

I was just passing through and saw this post. As it happens, I was considering planting pole beans in some window boxes. Would that work?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 8:11PM
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justaguy2(5)

I was just passing through and saw this post. As it happens, I was considering planting pole beans in some window boxes. Would that work?

Yes, you just have to have somewhere for those pole beans to run. With snow peas they generally only get a couple/few feet tall and planted densely will support themselves (more or less).

With pole beans you need at least 6' of room for them to run. If you don't allow at least that amount they will turn back on themselves and twine into their own selves and make a top heavy mess hard to harvest from. Some varieties need more growing length than others and all can be topped, meaning having their growing end cut off it it goes longer than what you can provide for.

Pole beans are fairly water wise though and so giving them 6" spacing in a trough style container that is 6" x 6" x 30" (or whatever length) is just fine for them. If it were me (and it has been) I would do peas in a double row and pole beans in a single row. The larger mass of the beans (water loss via leaves) would result in my giving them a bit more *soil volume* (not depth) than peas, but not by all that much (about double the root space).

Peas, like beans, (legumes in general) will form symbiotic relationships with soil bacteria where the plant takes nitrogen from the air and sends it to the roots where bacteria grab it and form nodules on the roots which the plants then use. Very cool process, but in containers do not rely upon it even though it may happen. Provide some N to containerized plants.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 9:01PM
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wormgirl(z8 WA)

Heh, I had a bunch of people grab my "shelling peas" and just eat them, pods and all. They were actually fine right off the plant like that.

JAG, do you feel innoculation is beneficial? I once got a small packet of pea/bean innoculant on the seed rack. Is it worth the bother or do they get innoculated soon anyway?

Jenn

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 12:50AM
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spencersmom(z7B Virginia Beach)

is there any type of support structure involved with snap peas or pole beans? I love both and am thinking of trying this next year.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 3:39PM
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justaguy2(5)

JAG, do you feel innoculation is beneficial? I once got a small packet of pea/bean innoculant on the seed rack. Is it worth the bother or do they get innoculated soon anyway?

As a rule I don't find it beneficial, but there are good growers out there who would disagree. The innoculants introduce bacteria that assist the roots with fixing nitrogen in nodules along the roots. Legumes are really cool in that they take nitrogen right out of the air and then send it to the roots where the bacteria 'package it up' for their subsequent use. This process doesn't happen well in cool soils though.

In containers it is hit or miss if it will happen due to temp/moisture fluctuations.

Generally speaking I like to provide nitrogen to my ground grown legumes early in the season and then I pull one up to inspect for the nodules. If present I discontinue any fertilization and rely upon the compost in the soil to provide.

In containers you want to fertilize throughout the season and I see little value in the innoculant. Even in the ground growing legumes once will ensure the bacteria are there. is there any type of support structure involved with snap peas or pole beans?

With pole beans yes, with peas it depends on the variety and how tall they grow. Many edible pod peas only get 2-4' tall and don't require support to produce well, but if you don't want them leaning over their neighbors should have some.

Pole beans on the other hand require support they can twine around or they will twine around themselves and make a mess difficult to harvest from.

What I use for peas is simply jute twine run horizontally so they have something to grab onto. With pole beans you need twine strung vertically. They want to wrap around something vertical as they grow. 6' would be the minimum unless you intend to top them.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 4:05PM
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kestie_eskimo_com

I am trying peas in the shady part of my garden, and I wanted to disagree about innoculant. The first year my 1 foot square by 2 feet deep containers had beans in them they went yellow. I dug up some alfalfa and took the nodes and mashed them up for each pot and they greened right up. Containers are sensitive because they have never had innoculant, but once they have it they share or seem to find the correct one. Its better to use the one that comes with the seeds if the container has never had beans or peas in it before. I would have had to order some and the alfalfa thing worked by luck. Its not as good as having the right innoculant in the first place.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 8:38PM
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