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How to grow peas without a trellis

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By Jennifer

Pea plants want to climb and produce best when their tendrils have something to grasp. This often involves the man-made creation of a frame, such as the simple method of stakes at the end of a garden row with lines of string running horizontally between them.

Sure, that works, but guess what? You won’t need any structure at all if you plant your peas close together in blocks instead of rows. 

Think of the phrase “standing room only,” which describes an event so packed with people that there is no room to sit. If you invite enough peas to your party they will latch onto each other as they grow upward. Even the plants at the edges will be connected to the group and not fall to the ground where blossoms and pods are more susceptible to rot and pests.

I space my peas two inches apart and planted an entire 4×8-feet garden box this way this season. (That’s a lot of peas!) Far from crowding each other out, the peas grow strong. There’s no room for weeds.  You don’t need to devote an area the scale of mine –- try planting peas in a grid of 4 seeds by 4 seeds (16 seeds in a square foot). I learned of this spacing from Mel Bartholomew’s square-foot garden approach. Although I don’t have the same soil makeup he recommends, I have had great success growing peas this way.

Also, it’s not too late in the season to plant peas –- if you choose the right kind. I recommend the seed variety Lincoln, which can withstand high temperatures. These plants keep forming blossoms well into the 100-degree days of July. Then you can’t plant another crop at the end of summer for a fall harvest.


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