Allotment rain at last

And it may just be enough, with the drop in temperature, and the cloud cover, to save the peas! Peas are a cool season crop, which means that when the temperature rises above a certain point they put on a mad thrust to reproduce, and that means creating the biggest fattest peas possible before the roots of the plant become too dry to feed the seed growth. This fantastic surge to pass on their pea genes to the next generation means that even little pea pods begin to swell and it’s a sign that the pea season may be about to end.

Hot dry winds just speed up the process. Usually peas tend to fill their pods from the ground up, which means the biggest peas are always lurking in the leafy undergrowth and difficult to find, but when the weather is hot and dry, the pods also start to mature at the top of the plant, even though they haven’t attained full size, as the stressed plant tries to maximise survival opportunities for its seeds.

As an example, look at these three pea pods. On the far left, a normal sized pod. On the far right, an immature top-of-the-plant pod. In between a pea pod from the top of a stressed pea plant – still small but fully filled (as far as it ever will be) and with the colour change that indicates that the peas have already started to dry inside the pod, which is what peas do to get them through the summer until they germinate next year. Once you see the pods become opaque you need to take them off the plant, even if they are small, as they contain a chemical compound that then instructs other pods on the same plant to start to dry out … that’s why when you miss a filled pea pod, that plant really slows down its pea production factory!

So with any luck the peas will revert to growing more pods and leaves, not putting all their energy into filling existing pods.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, June 6, 2011

3 Comments:

Blogger Joanna said...

We have had two weeks now with no rain. I have just mulched my still small pea plants and watered them and hoping and praying that they don't decide to race away. Actually some of them it doesn't matter as that is precisely what I want them to do as I plan to save quite a few for over the winter as dried peas. Let's hope the weather cools a little and sends us some rain but the forecast for Latvia is not hopeful. :(

June 6, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Growth Spurts said...

My pea pods are padding out now and becoming much fatter thankfully...

June 6, 2011 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Joanna, that's the way to do it - drying peas is a lost art in much of Europe!

Growth Spurts - they should fatten really fast now.

June 11, 2011 at 10:55 AM  

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