Monday, June 12, 2023

Early June Wildflowers of McLaren Park


Lupinus nanus (unpollinated), Sky Lupine

Lupinus nanus (pollinated), Sky Lupine

Choloragalum pomeridianum, Soap Plant

Leptosiphon grandiflorus, Large Flowered Leptosiphon

Aesculus californica, California Buckeye

Lupinus arboreus, Yellow Tree Lupine

Lupinus arboreus, Yellow Tree Lupine

A mass of Triteleia laxa, Ithuriel's Spear

Triteleia laxa, Ithuriel's Spear

Eriogonum latifolium, Coast Buckwheat, in foreground and Allium peninsulare var. franciscanum, Franciscan Onion, in background

Friday, June 09, 2023

Plant Profile: Oregon Giant Snow Pea

If Oregon Giant snow peas are flat, they're good, but not as delightful as they will be when they get a little puffy. When they're a little puffy, the pod is sweet and the peas inside are sweet. They taste like childhood. This is a variety Jim Baggett created with the goal of deliciousness and disease resistance, and here in San Francisco, powdery mildew capital of the world, they live up to those goals.

Yes, the plants will eventually develop powdery mildew, but in my garden, that only appears at the end of the lifespan of this variety, when I've already collected which pods I'm saving for seed and harvested all that is harvestable. 

Catalogs list this variety as semi-dwarf, maxing out around 4 or 5 feet, and most vines in my garden follow that rule, but there's always an outlier or two that really go for it, extending beyond the 6 foot trellises.

I've tried Sugar Snap, Sugar Magnolia, Green Beauty, and a couple others in my garden, but this pea wins for me. It's productive, strong-vined, and so very delicious. 

How I grow them:
  • The plants need moderately rich, relatively moist soil. I do well planting them in late winter thickly (about 1.5" apart) around the edges of trellises. 
  • Bountiful dustings of diatomaceous earth on seedlings helps limit slug and pillbug damage.
  • I protect seedlings from birds with twigs or agricultural cloth.
  • I grow and save seed from at least 30 plants to keep a healthy genetic population. Peas suffer quickly to inbreeding. 
  • I aim to save an early, perfect pod from each healthy plant. Later in the season, the plants are more prone to mutation, so the early pods are likeliest to be stable.
  • I don't save seeds from undesirable (disease prone, misshapen, or otherwise struggling) plants.
This time of year is peas-at-least-twice-a-week season, soon to be swallowed by runner-beans-all-the-time season. I won't complain about either.