The strong La Niña weather pattern has meant an unusually dry winter for the San Francisco Bay Area and our patch of Zone 9b garden. This is the first year I can remember having to water in January. Most of the rest of the country is waiting for their soil to dry out enough to plant some seeds. I’m out there with a hose every morning making sure the beds are moist enough for seeds to germinate.
But the Weather Woman has promised me another week of rainy weather and I spent the day scrambling to get ready. This is a perfect time to put out the seeds and transplants I have been putting off. Sugar Daddy peas were top on my list, as they often are this time of year.
So far the slugs, birds and squirrels have been getting more than their fair share of our pea sprouts. I started some extra seeds in a flat as insurance for the Alderman and Cascadia patches. I meant to do that with the Sugar Daddy patch I started today, but, halfway through watering in the seeds I realized I was also watering the seed packet and the remaining Sugar Daddy seeds. Since I hadn’t yet built the flat or mixed the flat soil I needed to use to plant them, I decided to use the now wet leftovers to reseed a pea patch that something had chewed on. I also needed to reseed half of the Green Beauty snow pea patch. I’m out of Green Beauty seeds, so I filled in with Golden Sweet snap peas from J. L. Hudson, which I’m excited to try. Hudson’s is a local seed company that doesn’t have a slick catalog or a zippy website, but it looks like many of their seeds are sourced locally so I expect them to be happy in my garden and they got my order here fast. I’m looking forward to trying them out.
All three pea patches are now covered with a layer of rice straw. I have a theory that slugs don’t like to slime their way across straw. Especially if it’s dry straw. I have also had good luck covering my pea sprouts with thin burlap or the kind of netting that onions are sold in. Burlap and straw may hide the apparently delicious smell of peas sprouting from hungry birds and squirrels or be hard for slugs to slime across. I don’t care how it works. I just want my peas safe long enough to get a couple of leaves. That seems to be all it takes before critters stop munching them. If they last long enough to get a couple sets of leaves, I’ve got a very good chance of eventually eating some peas. If the kids don’t get to them first.