I have learned a lot of important garden and farming lessons in the past few months and so many of them are metaphors for very important life lessons.
I planted three different types of sugar snap peas at the beginning of this journey. In one raised bed I planted a hundred seeds of two types, intermingled in a row. Snap peas need something to grow on, a type of trellis, so we put up some big branches because we thought the bark would allow the snaps to easily grab and grow along them.
In the second raised bed, a week later, I planted only 50 seeds of one type of snap pea, except this time they were planted further apart, on either side of a A frame made of bamboo stalks. The bamboo was slicker so we put string every 6 inches going up, so that the peas could grab on to that if nothing else.
These pictures show the results so clearly. In my first attempt, the peas have created a low bush. Those shoots and leaves that cannot get enough sun are yellowed and withering. I was able to get some really delicious peas off these plants for the CSA last week but the plants have not recuperated from the harvest.
In the second attempt the pea plants are healthy and green. I had to spend extra time helping those plants (training them) up onto the A frame but the result is that they are healthy. As an added bonus I don’t have to bend down and search when I am harvesting because these sweet peas are at eye level.
Most people tell you to plant close together and then thin the plants so that the most healthy ones remain, spaced further apart. It’s hard to thin though, when you are trying to save space and grow more food. I had also read that you can plant many things closer together in order to reduce weed pressure, without harming the plants. Now I know that thinning is a very important part of my farm, especially for plants like peas and beans, because they need room to grow, to reach for the sunshine, and to spread out a bit. How true this is for us humans too.