How to grow peas in the Rockies

Peas aren’t picky: They thrive in cool temperatures and prefer the slightly sweet (alkaline) soil common in the intermountain West. Just give them well-drained soil and full sun, and cover their roots with a cooling blanket of organic mulch when spring turns to summer.

Sow peas as early as the ground can be worked. Dig a shallow trench about 1 1/2 inches deep, sprinkle in a handful of bonemeal, and space the seeds 2 inches apart. To support the vines, provide a wire trellis or string a nylon-mesh net (holes should be 1 1/2 inches wide so tendrils can poke through and grab on) between stakes.

For hardiness and flavor, it’s hard to beat edible-pod snow peas. ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ bears 4- to 5-inch pods that taste great in soups and stir-fry dishes. You can even eat the pods raw, right off the vine, or blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute to accentuate their vivid green color and sweet crispness. To mail-order, try Bountiful Gardens (707/459-6410).