Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pea update


This weekend we truly welcomed in spring with the first 12 hour day of sunlight.  The movement and pace on the farm is changing.  The work days grow longer and I've started to finally feel how connected farming is to nature.  My schedule is very much a product of the sun, the moon and the earth, among other factors.  It was not all that long ago, I was fighting to get in my last transplants or soil bed preparations finished by a 4:30pm sunset and now it's 6:00pm before I know it and the sun is still hanging around long enough to let me get in my last tasks and still have time to sit and enjoy the greenhouse peacefulness.  The added heat and light increase the thirst of not just the plants, but the farmers as well.  Watering has increased more than twice as long in minutes per day and days per week and I've also noticed my water intake increase.  Distant memories of last summer pop into my head, it seemed as though we watered all day every day then, but in the winter, I found myself at times going a week or two without watering at all.  Earlier in the week, we discussed the increasing amount of bolting.  In many cases, the bolting is a sign that we will have to remove the remaining winter crops from the ground and prepare for the new wave of seedlings being brushed onto the soil.  For some plants, this surge is just what we've been waiting for.  Our pea experiment is prime for action as we've noticed a few of our stray plants starting to flower.  Last time we spoke about peas, I had just finished building my first trellis and we discussed the genetics experiment where we will be attempting to cross a purple podded pea with a sweet, tender green snow pea with the goal of developing a purple tender snow pea similar to the green Oregon Giant snow pea we love, but in order to begin, we need the peas to flower.  Interestingly enough...

Patrick, the propagation apprentice, took a few of the extra pea transplants that didn't make it into the soil and placed them in the warm propogation space which is generally used for starting plants before they head out to the field and greenhouse.  In this warm nursery-like environment, a few of the Oregon Giant plants have flourished and already started to produce flowers.  Nevertheless, the in-ground plants in our experiment have climbed up the trellis and are starting to gear up for flowers, but nothing yet.  It shouldn't be long now, but look at how big they've grown in 3 months through the winter.

Yes, this is how Patrick poses for most pictures

Here you can see as these incredibly delicate, butterfly-like pea leaves open

The Caruthers variety looks very similar to the Oregon giant leaf, but has beautiful splashes of purple at the nodes and around the leaf edge.

It won't be long until these peas begin to flower in the greenhouse and then we will begin to roll the dice and see what combinations we end up with.

Follow the story of the Stone Barns Center purple pea project here:


  1. Nice work Jason! Good luck with the pea breeding. Remember that peas self pollinate by the time the flowers develop color and mature. If you want to make crosses you will have to take unmature flowers and remove the pollen clumps before they mature and self pollinate. It's a little difficult because the flowers are so small, but it is doable. I recommend using a pair of tiny "embroidery scissors" that women normally use for sewing.


    1. Andrew,

      We've been a little delayed, but for the last couple of weeks, we've been cross pollinating the peas as you described in your last comment. Check it out:


      Soon we will have our F1 peas for our next trial.

      Stay tuned and please keep us updated with your peas.

  2. Andrew,

    Thanks for the info, we were just discussing how we were going to handle that process today and it really helps to hear it explained. I don't think it will be long now, the propagation peas started producing pods this week.

    More pics to come.