Garden Talk: Thinning carrots and planting more peas

Pea plants with alder bough trellis (photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

Peas planted this spring are ready to be picked, but it’s not too late to start a second crop. And carrots due for harvest this fall likely need some thinning. With both plants, the shoots, tips and leaves are edible and delicious in salads and sauces.

Master gardener Ed Buyarski’s crop of peas was planted outdoors from seed in early May, then covered with agricultural fabric to protect the sprouts.

“We’re standing in front of my pea patch with all these alder sticks coming up out of it, which are my low-budget pea trellis,” he said. “The peas are blooming and very quickly. In fact, I noticed there are some little tiny peas I’m looking forward to eating.”

Buyarksi prefers the varieties with edible pods, like snow peas or snap peas.

“In my youth I planted and harvested and shelled peas, which is tedious,” he said. “Tasty, but tedious.”

Ed Buyarski holds out a pea shoot with pods and flowers (photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

In addition to the pea pods, the shoots, tips, leaves and even flowers can be eaten.

“Of course if you eat the flowers, you don’t get peas,” Buyarski said.

Peas are cold-hardy and can be planted even as late as mid-July for a fall harvest. Which is just in time for the carrots to come out of the ground.

“Our regular harvest for carrots for storage is usually after the first frost, so late September, October. I’ve harvested them into November,” he said. “It’s best to do it before the ground freezes because it’s a lot more convenient that way to get the carrots out of the ground.”

Garden box with carrots, ready for a mid-summer thinning. The carrots need a few more months but their tops are edible now. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

Buyarksi recommends direct-sowing carrots in late April if conditions allow, then covering the bed with plastic sheeting over hoops while the weather warms up. They will need to be thinned to about an inch apart as they grow.

Whatever gets pulled while thinning carrots can be set aside for salads and sauces. As with peas, the leaves and shoots of carrot plants are edible, too.

When Buyarski finds himself short on basil or other greens, he’ll chop up carrot tops, pea shoots or kale to make pesto and chimichurri. He says that every batch is different.

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