One of my favorite “firsts” of every gardening season is that first plump pod full of young, sweet peas.
For 17 years I’ve planted peas of the Wando variety. This year, I tried two other varieties and learned something I’d never have anticipated: When you get older, you should plant tall pea varieties.
Why Tall is Better
In my last post, titled Post Produce, Peas! I explained my pea-growing habits and how I broke from them this spring. Mostly, I wanted to try something different. Perhaps Early Frosty or Bolero pea plants would out-produce good-old Wando peas. Or, perhaps these varieties would taste better than Wandos.
Turns out Wando peas have a slightly milder flavor than Early Frosty and Bolero peas, but it doesn’t matter; they all taste terrific fresh-picked and raw… or cooked. But for a 53-year-old gardener, Wando peas are way better. The photos explain why.
Has age or your health affected choices you make in your garden? Please share your experiences in a comment. For any youngsters who might still be reading, I offer insight that never would have occurred to me 10 years ago: Just because it doesn’t bother you much to bend over for hours at a time doesn’t mean you have to bend over for hours at a time. Plant tall varieties!
When pea plants grow only 24 inches tall, I have to get low to pick every pea. My body doesn’t enjoy the bending, and it seriously despises the unbending – particularly after I’ve been working (bent) for many minutes.
When harvesting from two rows of short pea plants, I finally resorted to sitting. This put far less strain on my back, but moving from place-to-place created a whole other rigamarole. I’d be reluctant to sit if I had to pick peas on a dewy morning or after a rain storm.
The pea plants on the left in this photo are Boleros and they are no more than two feet tall. The pea plants on the right are Wandos and they stand a full five feet tall. Wandos produce very few pea pods on the lowest two feet of vine, but the upper three feet can produce prodigiously. When I harvest Wando peas, I don’t have to bend over much, and that’s just grand. For the same reason, I’ve come to favor growing climbing beans over bush beans, staking up tomato plants, and trellising squashes and melons.