I “rotate” my garden plants each year, moving each family of vegetables to the next of my four raised garden beds. The vegetables don’t occupy the same soil for four years, which hopefully reduces the number of pests and diseases specific to each plant. As my garden is fairly small, this may not be as effective as I’d like.
This weekend was warm and sunny, so we started working in the garden. Last year, I grew peas (and beans and herbs) in garden bed number two, so on Saturday (April 12th), we prepared garden bed number three for planting peas.
I covered this in detail last year, but here is the executive summary. We removed the tomato cages, cleaning the tomato, eggplant, and pepper vines from them as we went; transferred the vines to the compost bin; and removed the landscape fabric and set that aside. I dug up the soil with the garden fork, mixing in some leaves that were on the surface, and raked it out so the center was flat and the edges were banked to keep rain water in the bed. I spread cow manure in the areas where I will plant and we put the landscape fabric back in place, but with the sides cut and folded under to give me two exposed rows where I will plant peas and beans (see the third photo, below). We moved the A-frame trellis onto the bed and I secured it with four steel posts driven through holes in the base.
The last thing I did Saturday was to count out as many peas as I needed and soak them overnight. By morning, the shriveled peas had plumped up to their original size.
Because peas have difficulty germinating in still-cool spring soils, I plant them pretty thickly — about one per inch (2.5 cm). Spacing the peas is easy because the wire fencing on the trellis has holes spaced four inches apart. On Sunday, I dug a trench about an inch deep and planted the peas, then sprinkled legume inoculant in the row.
I covered the peas with soil, then watered the row. Legume inoculant contains active rhizobia bacteria that help legumes convert nitrogen from the air to a form that is usable by plants. The packet actually costs more than the pea and bean seeds and contains more than twice what I need, but it doesn’t remain viable for more than a year so I need to buy it every year. I should find out if it will remain in the soil for four years, so that I wouldn’t have to re-apply it when I plant peas and beans where I had them previously.
In the photo below, the vertical wood boards are the lower part of my trellis. Peas have been planted on the right (East) side of the trellis. Beans will be planted on the left (West) side when the weather is warmer. Herbs will be transplanted into the front (South) side, where you can see the watering can.
Later on Sunday, I started cleaning up and digging garden bed number two. I tried to buy more of the cow manure that I have been using, but the store has switched brands. The new brand has added compost and sand, and it doesn’t have an analysis of the fertilizer components (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium), so I didn’t buy it. If I don’t know what it will add to my garden soil, it is useless to me.