Need help pea-ing

I have a couple of questions for pea growers. I've only tried growing them for a few years now. At first my problem was a lack of sun, and then it was a lack of heat. This year they have six good hours of sun/day and there is no escaping the heat. I still have some questions about them.
Numero uno, it seems that I only have peas "setting" in the growing zone, i.e. the head of the vine. I can't remember seeing any new sets in the body of the vine. Is this typical?
Numero two-o, the largest of my peas have turned straw color from their base up, for five or six feet. Four or five have one or two feet of green on top but one only has three inches or so. I have three starter plants (these are bush not pole) that also show some browning of leaves. I'm thinking this is a result of that blow torch week-end we had a couple of weeks ago but logic is only as good as it's premise, so I thought I'd ask.
Numero three-o, are they really such wretched producers? Mine have made corn look like a wise investment. I deprive myself of sleep because I'm out battling snails in the middle of the night, and irritating the neighbors with the loud crunch, crunch, crunch of the snails (hunting slugs is tolerated though). And all this for a miserable hand full of peas? Call me fickle, but if this doesn't improve, it's going to be "good-bye peas, hello pole beans".
They got their bed turned. They got composted. They got manured a couple of times. They get plenty of water. They have plenty of little worm buddies. What do I have to do to turn these babies on?
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You didn't mention what kind of peas you are growing, snow, sweet, etc. This time of the year is really to hot to grow snow or sweet peas in my opinion. They do much better in the fall or spring. As to the browning leaves, check for sprider mites. They love peas and beans especially in the heat. OR you may have some kind of fungical disease like blight.
Good Luck
JEM

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Don't know where you are located or what the temps have been like, nor what kind of peas you are growing.
I have grown English peas every year for the past 15 years or so, and they are my very favorite crop. They DO NOT like hot weather AT ALL, but they can take frosts and freezes just fine. The trick is to plant them so that they can bear before the heat fries them up. It also helps to plant a variety that is supposedly more heat-tolerant, like Wando, or one that matures quicker to avoid the hot weather.
Here in the midwest I plant my peas (usually Wando) around March 17 (St. Patty's Day). I just water them in and leave them alone. I am able to begin harvesting around Memorial Day, which is right around when it starts getting too hot for them (80-85F or more).
As for manure or fertilizer, they seem to benefit from a bit of manure but not a lot. Too much nitrogen and the pea production drops and the bugs come out in force (especially aphids). Peas fix their own nitrogen from the air anyway, so it's not like they really need it.
Right about when the peas are frying up is when the soil is warm enough to plant beans. After harvesting all the peas, I'll pull up the spent vines and plant beans (pole or bush) in the same place. Beans can't take cold, but love the heat. This way I get one crop of peas and one of beans.
I've never had problems with slugs on peas, although I plant them along the perimeter of my garden so that they can climb up the fence. That keeps them off the ground where slugs can't get at them. I have successfully cured slug problems around my hostas using crushed up egg shells sprinkled around the plants, so that might help in this situation also.
Dee
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Dee, you are a font of information. I'm in northern California where the summers have been cool since '99. The beans were great producers last year. This year the beans and the peas have definitly been struggling. I guess I'll back up and give it another try now that days are 80F/50F. I'm not a gardener yet, but I keep workin' on it. Thank you for the heads up. Bill
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William L. Rose wrote:

Bill,
I'm also in northern California. I plant snow peas in the spring from seed and always get a bumper crop. Over the years I've stopped planting the vegetables that either don't produce heavily, or that no one really likes to eat, or that have a lot of pest/health issues. The snow peas are in the rotation!
Susan B.
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Sue, thanks for the encouragement. I'm in a Region 5 here, west of Santa Rosa. It seems like I've been sticking plants in the ground for a long time but I guess the last few years the bug has really bitten me. This year I tried to branch-out into germinating the seeds. I really don't have much of a place to sprout seedlings and as you know, everybody got a late start because of the rain. (April had the greatest number of days with rain of any previous April, here in Sonoma County.)
I've had up and down luck with germinating seeds. My best results were from putting the under my waterbed where it is about 75F, but even there the results have been mixed. Germination is worse outside. Out of 54 cells, I only got 3 beans to sprout. Oy. Hopefully, after I run into enough walls, I'll figure out what I'm doing wrong. But then, that's everybody's first presumption, "it must be me". My plan is to have a grow light set up next spring.
Mean while back at the ranch, I struggled with corn, then someone wrote, they need lots of water! Bim-batta-boom, I have good corn. A little on the small side but being on the north side of a hill in the forest, I'm pleased. Now I'm having problems with my peas and I'm told that they don't like the heat! (Yeah, I am/was growing snow peas. Let's hear it for the idiot.) The real problem is that my gardening books and the web sites that I've visited say, "Give lots of water to corn, and don't plant peas when it is hot. Somehow I just read over those key little pieces of information. I think I need to back up and reacquaint myself with all my little friends with cellulose cell walls.
But enough ranting. What kind of production do you get from your peas, when they aren't being fried by 100F in the shade (and they ain't got no shade) temperatures. Do yours have a full day's sun? What kind of soil are they growing in? How many do you plant to fill your needs?
I'm trying to grow for three. I'm not trying to unplug from the "commercial -food distribution" grid but I like to have those little complements to a good meal and that means fresh. So, I don't need a lot of any one thing but dependable and adequate production from as small an area as possible.
Mulching has really improved my garden by reducing the dimension of my snail and slug problem. On the other hand, I haven't seen any benefit from crop rotation. I've grown lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes in the same place for years with no obvious problems. This has been done in hard clay that is like concrete if you let it dry-out. The soil is slowly improving but if I stop amending it, I'm sure in a couple of years, you would never know that there had been a garden there.
Gad, this note is getting out of hand. OK, OK, I'm growing, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers (of all kinds), corn, cucumbers, beans, peas (on occasion), squash, sunflowers, rhubarb, beets, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, dwarf citrus, dwarf peaches, parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano, echinacea, licorice, astragalus. prunnela, stinging nettle, skullcap, yarrow, clivers, mint, and dandelion. The blackberries are down the road and through the poison oak.
If you can give me any advice on these plants or related plants, please post or email me.
Salaam
- Bill
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William L. Rose wrote:

I'm in Santa Clara county so it's not quite as extreme heat as you get.

Of course it's you! But you still want to grow the good stuff! (Sorry - I used to work at a place where the standard greeting was "It's all your fault!")
The easiest way I've found to germinate seeds is to use the 6 packs that you buy plants in. Plant the seeds in SuperSoil in those, then put them into old roasting pans. Then you put the pans out in only the "best" spot that you have and bring them in at night if it's too cold. Lots of seeds don't need to be germinated - they can go straight into the ground.

Secretly, everything needs lots of water.

I plant in two raised beds, each 4x8 feet. I'm pretty lazy so there's usually only one bed going at a time. The beds get at least 8 hours of sun a day - they're next to a fence and there's a big walnut tree in the yard. I usually put in a bag or two of compost every year. I try to rotate between beds, particularly where I put the tomatoes.
When I do snow peas, I'll plant half the bed. I sow seeds directly in rows across the bed, usually in March/April. My big problem is keeping my cats from gleefully digging them all up. By mid May they are producing enough so that I can fill a collander every three days.

I grow tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, snow peas, spinach, lettuce, pumpkins. I have a row of boysenberry bushes along the fence that had a great year because of all that rain. I have a huge lemon tree. I planted one artichoke root years ago and it comes back every year with lots of chokes. I grow some herbs but right now it's just a big rosemary plant. I usually grow garlic and chives but didn't bother this year.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to get a copy of the Sunset garden book because it has advice on your specific microclimate. USDA info is really too general. And we don't have some of the forcing factors ("that white stuff") that others who post here have to contend with.
Susan B.
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