Failed experiment: Peas underplanted with pole beans

Well, I bit the bullet this morning and pulled up my pea vines.  I really didn’t want to, for a couple of reasons: 1) they’re still producing (and Tall Telephone, which I’d previously thought wasn’t the most productive variety, actually appeared to just be getting in the swing of things, with many flowers and immature pods on the vines), and 2)  my toddler loves to graze on the peas all day long, and I don’t currently have any other toddler-friendly crops ready (though there will hopefully be cherry tomatoes soon, and some of the wild plums are just about ripe).

Hunting for pea pods in the discarded vines.

Hunting for pea pods in the discarded vines.

The vines were getting pretty mildewy, though, and I need the space they’re in for my pole beans (which it is getting a little late for!), so I ripped them out.  I’d actually experimented with underplanting my pole bean seeds, thinking that they’d grow decently in the shade of the pea vines and that the peas would have died off by the time the beans needed more sun to fruit properly, and this has only sort of worked.  Many of the beans germinated and are growing well, and the peas provided them cover to hide the bean seedlings from the voracious birds, who LOVE to snack on my seedlings; however, the peas also apparently harbor many insects, and the bugs have munched several of the seedlings to shreds (I even have to completely replant one variety of bean, Spanish Musica, that the bugs particularly enjoyed).

The tattered leaves of pole beans planted under established pea plants.

The tattered leaves of pole beans planted under established pea plants.

In contrast, my bush bean seedlings, which were planted in the empty bed that I just harvested leeks from, have been relatively untouched by bugs – and the birds seem to have left them alone, too!  (Knock on wood.)

The lovely leaves of the bush beans.  Last year I swore I would never plant a bush bean again - they're much more of a hassle to harvest and produce much less than pole beans - but here I go planting them again!

The lovely leaves of the bush beans. Last year I swore I would never plant a bush bean again – they’re much more of a hassle to harvest and produce much less than pole beans – but here I go planting them again!

So I don’t think I’ll attempt to underplant beans with mature peas again; I will just have to plant my beans and peas in separate areas, so as to get a fuller season from the peas and not have to rip them out when the beans have to go in.

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