Kick-start spring by getting into the garden

Updated: Mar 21

By Emily Halstead, K-State Research and Extension news writer

MANHATTAN, Kan. – As the weather slowly begins to warm up, many Kansans are eager to get back to gardening. K-State horticulture expert Ward Upham said work can begin on vegetables like peas and lettuce.


“If you are tired of winter and hunger for spring, try planting peas as soon as the soil dries and the temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit,” Upham said.


There are a few options for Kansans looking to plant peas, but the most common is the Little Marvel shelling pea. Others on the recommended list, according to Upham, are Green Arrow, Knight, Maestro, Burpeeana and Mr. Big.


“All of these are early maturing types that allow us to harvest a crop before the hot weather arrives and stops production,” Upham said.


As for snow peas, commonly used in stir-fry, Upham suggests Dwarf Grey Sugar and Mammoth Melting Sugar.


Sugar snap peas share a resemblance with shelling peas but have a thick, fleshy pod that can be eaten like snow peas, pod and all. Sugar Bon, Sugar Ann, Super Sugar Snap and Sugar Sprint are recommended by Upham.


Upham said peas should be planted shallow, about one-half inch deep to encourage rapid germination and emergence, and seeds should be spaced 2 inches apart in a row.


“Many people plant two rows 6-8 inches apart so the floppy plants can support one another,” Upham said. “For some older varieties, this may not be enough. They may need trellising to support the growing vines. You might consider installing fence to keep rabbits away.”


Peas are not the only vegetable that gardeners can begin work on, Upham said lettuce can be started from transplants now.


“Though lettuce is most often planted directly from seed in late March to early April, it can be started from transplants,” Upham said. “Transplants allow lettuce to mature earlier so that it escapes heat that can lead to a strong flavor and bitterness.”


Upham and his colleagues in K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for maintaining home landscapes. The newsletter is available to view online or can be delivered by email each week.


Interested persons can also send their garden- and yard-related questions to Upham at wupham@ksu.edu, or contact your local K-State Research and Extension office.

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