|Sugar snap peas on the SIFT farm.
By Jonathan Burrus
As the days begin to warm across Montana, we in Butte still find ourselves reaching for the covers as night falls. Nighttime lows have dipped to 25 degrees, making it still too cold to direct seed even our more hardy plants without the aid of some season-extension technology.
This year weâ€™re relying on one of the five onsite hoop houses to accomplish our first production goal, an early crop of peas. Now Iâ€™m originally from North Carolina, and my friends back home chuckle when I tell them that weâ€™re hoping to be able to harvest our first crop of peas by June. But thatâ€™s the nature of agriculture here in Montana, where weâ€™re at almost 6,000 feet altitude. We may be behind, but donâ€™t count us out, as Sugar Snap, Oregon Snow, and Maestro shelling peas are quickly filling in and will soon need to be trellised.
Peas make a wonderful addition to any garden. First and most importantly to many, peas are absolutely delicious and a real treat to eat. But thatâ€™s just the beginning. They are also extremely nutritious, being a significant source of more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. And on top of that, they are good for your soil, too. Peas, like some other legumes, host beneficial bacteria in their root zone that are able to take nitrogen out of the air, converting it into a form usable by plant life. This ability makes peas invaluable for the organic gardener and a must for every crop rotation.
With all these wonderful benefits, you can see why weâ€™re excited that peas will soon be on our tables.