By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
The problem of pea plants wilting in the garden can be as simple as a need for water, or peas wilting may also signal a serious, common disease called pea wilt. Wilt on peas (the disease) is soil borne and may or may not devastate the crop.
If you have pea plants wilting in the garden, check first to make sure the soil isn’t dried out. Examine stems near the bottom for bright or unusual colors of yellow, orange or red. This may only be visible by cutting the stem open as the disease begins.
Wilt that is not corrected by watering is the surest sign that your plants have a form of disease. Several types of Fusarium wilt and Near wilt are known to horticulturists, these may perform differently when infecting your garden plants.
Peas wilting from these diseases exhibit symptoms on stems and roots. They turn yellow or reddish orange; plants become stunted and may die. Fusarium pea wilt sometimes spreads through the garden in a circular pattern. Near pea wilt has similar symptoms, but is not as likely to destroy the entire crop.
Plants damaged by wilt on peas should be removed from the garden, along with roots. Pea wilt disease is easily spread by tracking soil into healthy parts of the garden, by cultivation and tilling, and by the diseased plants you have removed. Plants affected by wilt on peas should be burned. There is no chemical control effective for this disease.
Plants affected by pea wilt often do not produce pods, or pods are small and underdeveloped. Near wilt on peas that are older and have shown vigorous growth may not be as devastating, these plants may continue to produce a viable, useable crop.
Wilt on peas can be avoided by good cultural practices, crop rotation and planting disease resistant varieties. Plant peas in a different area of the garden each year. Plant in soil enriched with organic compost that drains well. Don’t overwater. Healthy plants are less likely to succumb to disease.
Choose seeds that are labeled resistant to wilt. These will be labeled (WR) on the packet. Resistant varieties may grow a healthy pea crop in the infected soil. Fungi of the disease may remain in the soil for 10 years or longer. Non-resistant varieties should not be planted in the area again. Choose an entirely different growing spot, if possible.
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Bethany is a suburban homesteader who grows over 30 types of vegetables in her garden every year to provide the vegetables needed to feed her family of six for the entire year. She practices organic gardening without the use of any pesticide and chemical.
Peas are one of the easiest vegetable plants to grow in your garden, but sometimes, problems arise. That leaves you wondering – why are my peas dying?!
Even though most gardeners find that peas are easy to grow, don’t feel bad if things start looking bad.
It’s not uncommon for pea plants to wilt or turn yellow. The first thing you have to do is figure out what the problem might be and then find out how to fix it. This guide will help.
Because watering is so important, the following fundamentals should be helpful in producing a more abundant pea crop.
If the soil is dry, water after planting your seeds. If you water before planting, the soil packs down too firmly.
An inch of water a week ensures good growth, whether vegetables are grown in single or wide rows. The amount of rain that falls during the week affects how much you should water your garden.
To determine how long it takes to water a certain section of your garden with a sprinkler, use a rain gauge or put a straight-sided can in the garden near a plant. Turn on the sprinkler and check the time. When there's an inch of water in the can, check the time again. Now you know how long it takes to supply your garden with one inch of water.
To determine the amount of rainfall, place a can or rain gauge in your garden and check it after every rain. Add up the amount to see if it totals an inch each week. If not, you'll need to water.
Water early in the day. This gives the plants plenty of time to dry before night falls, which discourages the spread of disease organisms.
Avoid frequent, light waterings. When you water, soak the soil to a depth of three to six inches. By watering deeply, your plants will survive hot, dry weather, How do you know how deeply the water has gone? Dig down and feel.
Soil type affects the amount of water needed for good growth. Sandy soils, in general, drain much faster than heavy clay soils.
Don't water for the sake of watering. Just because your plants look wilted on a hot afternoon, doesn't mean they need watering they'll probably perk up overnight. You may find the top of the soil is bone dry but that it becomes moist as you dig deeper. However, if plants look wilted in the early morning, they probably do need to be watered. The best way to check your soil's moisture is by digging down three to four inches into the soil. If the soil feels dry at that depth, water.
Soil can hold only so much water, so don't waste the precious liquid by smothering the plants' roots. However, if you've been without rain for a while, it's a good idea to water.
Although peas can be started indoors in peat pots for transplanting, they really don't make the transition well. Disturbing the young roots can diminish yields later in the season. If this is the only way to get an early start, go for it. Otherwise, sow the seeds directly in the soil about a month before the expected last frost in your area.
Plant early, mid-season, and late varieties to get maximum pea production. In the spring, instead of planting different varieties at weekly intervals, plant peas all at once. They'll mature at different times, staggering the harvest.
The following varieties are recommended:
Fall pea crops are finicky and many gardeners end up with mixed results. But, for the reward of an extra crop, the minimal effort and expense is well worth the gamble. The trick is to finish the harvest before a hard frost. To determine when to sow your fall crop, check the days to maturity for the pea varieties chosen and count backward from the expected first frost date. Outstanding winter pea crops can often be grown in Zones 9-11.
Your Peas seem to be free from Fusarium wilt! Fusarium wilt typically begins to appear in the leaves closest to the soil, as severe drooping, and yellowing of the leaves, and orangish discolouration of the Pea plant stems, and then it proceeds upward: Fusarium wilt in Peas is caused by a form of Fusarium oxysporum, a fungus in soil which generally enters Pea plants through their root tips or from abrasions on their roots, and then it spreads upward through the plants' vascular systems as a mycelium, gradually clogging the vascular systems. Fusarium wilt spreads by contaminated seeds and soil, and by water splashing so, when watering, it's good to avoid splashing soil onto the plants, and it's good being very careful of the Pea roots, which are quite delicate.
Your Peas may be being affected by several factors, especially: nutrient, watering and drainage, heat, soil acidity level, and root difficulties. Which are fixable!
The soil texture you describe sounds good. Peas do well in well draining and somewhat loamy soil. Placing a 1 cm mesh plastic screen over
2 cm of coarse gravel in the bottoms of the containers could be helpful for better drainage and aereation. Inadequate drainage can lead to root difficulties. The layer of sand in the bottom may actually hinder good drainage and hinder good aereation, because the layer of sand may compact to itself and to the bottom of the container. This can form a relatively solid thickness of grains of sand, and with each watering, more tiny bits of soil can flow into and wedge in the spaces between the grains of sand, significantly impeding good water drainage, and essentially stopping aereation of your Pea plant roots from below. It might be possible to fairly efficiently and very carefully transplant the plants and soil in the container in a complete module, minus the layer of sand, into an identically sized container prepared as described above plus with a layer of 5-10 cm of matching soil placed above the screen to make up the height of the layer of sand being left out. If the root and soil module is tending to separate when transplanting, then carefully transplanting the Pea plants individually into a readied container would be more likely to preserve the their root systems intact.
A difficulty of inadequate container drainage is that mid-depth and deeper soil can still be wet when upper and surface soil has already become too dry, so when roots near the surface are in need of water, deeper roots can still be too wet. You can get a reasonable indication of whether the deeper soil is too wet by gently inserting a dry dowel, such as that of the Pea plant supports, into the soil 3-4 cm from the side, and to the bottom of the container, moving it enough to slightly enlarge the hole, and looking to see how wet it is can check again for wetness by wrapping a dry sheet of absorbent paper around the dowel, maybe holding the dry paper in place with an elastic band. If the soil and sand are wet, then immediately transplanting your Pea plants to a container as described above would be good.
Applying a very sparing amount of a balanced fertiliser, eg 4-4-4 NPK, or a fish emulsion type fertiliser, or specialised tomato fertiliser which contains NPK plus additional important trace materials, could be helpful. Then, after the plants become established, adjusting to, very sparingly, a nutrient more as 2-4-4 NPK ratio Peas naturally collect Nitrogen in their root nodules from Nitrogen-fixing rhizobia soil bacteria. However, it takes a couple weeks for the plants to develop this, so, initially, very sparingly applying nutrient, including Nitrogen, can help them along in the meantime. Also, the soil which you're using may be deficient in such bacteria, though they're present in most soils. Rhizobia Nitrogen-fixing bacteria can be conveniently made available to Pea seedlings by lightly dusting the seeds with a Rhizobia dust prior to planting, which makes the bacteria available to all the newly extending roots effectively applying it after the plants are growing is somewhat problematic though, especially since pea roots are very delicate, and probing into the soil can cause abrasions to them.
The ranges of temperatures are okay, though 24°C is near the upper good level, as Peas prefer temperatures from about 11-22°C (52-72°F). The amount of Sun they're receiving sounds good.
The soil acidity level could be a contributing factor: Sugar Snaps do well with slightly acidic soil, pH around 6.5 Peas may do okay in soil with pH from
6.0-7.2 (7.0 is 'neutral'), but if lower than 6, it might be good to apply some form of lime to reduce the acidity. The pH levels might also differ between the seedling trays and the container, if the soils in them differ.
Checking pH level and levels of various elements and soil nutrients could be very helpful if any of these are significantly suboptimal, and it may be fairly convenienient and very reasonably available to have the pH and important nutrient levels accurately tested, depending on your region and fairly good testing kits might be reasonably available at gardening supply places.
The amount of water your Pea plants are receiving is reasonable, though Peas do better when watered thoroughly, but only every two to four days, especially when in containers. And adequate drainage is very important, and is likely decreasing with every watering because of the layer of sand becoming more and more obstructive to drainage. With good drainage, for seedlings: watering every other day, and for established plants, watering every two to four days more often if necessary: it's very important that the soil doesn't become dry! And as the Pea plants increase in size, they require more water overall than they do when they're small. The germination tray with the malformed sprout seems too wet, which can result in root difficulties.
When the soil remains wet, various fungus problems are more likely to occur, and the Pea roots don't aereate well enough. Peas tend to do excellently when planted directly in their intended permanent location first presoaking the seeds for about half a day, then lightly dusting them with Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and then planting them about 2.5 cm deep and 10 cm apart. If obtaining seedlings or if growing seedlings in trays, it's very important to be very careful of their roots and transplant them with their root and soil module intact, because Pea plant roots are very delicate. Also, if Pea plants are obtained as seedlings, they may exhaust any slight fertiliser present in their seedling root and soil modules, which could contribute to a yellowing effect as the plants grow, unless appropriate nutrient is sparingly applied within a few days after transplanting.
Since the roots of Pea plants are quite delicate, it's important to place trellises or other supports Before planting the seeds, to avoid disrupting the roots or causing abrasions to the roots, which can result in interruption of nutrient uptake and open the the roots to fungus. Standard trellises, vinyl coated sheep fence (with any wire ends blunted!), or twine between posts, can all work well, but it's good to place them Before planting the the seeds, or, if placed after planting placed very carefully so the Pea plant roots aren't disturbed. The maximum diameter for the Pea plant tendrils to readily attach to is about 6 mm, so anything with diameter over 5-6 mm wouldn't afford good support, and the plants would flop over from their own weight or from even a slight wind.
Another possible contributor to the situation could be insects, such as Aphids, which can cause leaf curling as shown in your illustrations, and another possible pest could be Spider Mites. Neither of those seem obvious from your illustrations, but those pests are very small, so there could be some on the larger seedlings which aren't apparent in the illustrations. The curling could be resulting from heat or sun drying, although the intensity of sun you describe sounds fine. Wide temperature fluctuation from night to day and then very strong direct sun to the new leaves might have some effect, but not to the extent seen. Depending on when the support poles were placed, that could have affected the roots, but to a lesser overall extent than seems evident.
Your Peas are fairly well formed, both the small seedlings, and the plants in the larger container the single malformed seedling could be an exception for that particular seedling. And the other seedlings in the close illustration look sturdy and very healthy, and their green colour is excellent.
So, it could be a combination of factors, including watering and inadequate drainage, heat, root delicacy factors, soil nutrient levels, including Nitrogen, and pH level. Hopefully your Sugar Snaps will soon be doing great! Good question and very helpful details & illustrations!
Every plant has its problems. Peas are no different. Here is what you need to be aware of when growing peas:
Aphids are a threat to many plants because they seem to show up in almost every garden. They are tiny bugs that cause problems with your plants, but also leave a residue that draws even more pests to your garden.
Also, you’ll know that you have aphids on your plants’ leaves become discolored or misshapen. You will see the sticky residue on your plants as well.
If you have aphids, try spraying your plants to dislodge the pests from the leaves. You can also try dusting your plants with flour.
Finally, try using an insecticidal soap or neem oil to rid yourself of the aphids problem
Mexican bean beetles are little bugs that look similar to ladybugs. They do similar damage to Japanese beetles.
They eat your plants and leave only a skeletal remain of them behind.
There are few ways to rid yourself of Mexican bean beetles. You can try insecticides or handpick the beetles off of your plants when you see them.
A personal recommendation (if you have the room and patience) is to consider getting guinea fowl or chickens. They’re productive and will eat these pests.
Some people call them woodchucks, I call them groundhogs. Whatever you call them, these little critters can destroy your pea harvest. If you are unfamiliar with groundhogs, they look like overgrown squirrels. They weigh around ten pounds and are about three feet long.
Unfortunately, these critters are also binge eaters. When you have one, they can scope out your garden and destroy it in no time.
You can begin to protect your garden by sprinkling blood meal and ground black pepper around the edge of your garden.
Then you can also try putting a fence around your garden too. Try to locate the hole of the groundhog and clog it to encourage them to move on.
Finally, if nothing else works, use a humane trap and relocate the animal yourself.
This is a fungal disease that begins in the soil. It attacks the plant’s roots and then makes its way up the plant interfering with water distribution throughout the plant.
From this, your plants will begin to wilt.
You can attempt to treat this disease with fungicides. You should also cut the dead from the plant to stop the spreading.
Also, check your soil. If your soil is high in nitrogen, it’s making the plants more susceptible. You should try to balance your soil and also stop fertilizing so much in the event this disease has developed.
There are a number of issues, pests and diseases that can potentially harm your peas. Not to worry! We’ve listed them here below, as well as what you can do to either avoid or fix the problem.
Aphids:Small pests that transmit the Pea Enation Virus, which causes curling, discoloration, and leaf deformation. Typically, aphids form large colonies on the underside of leaves.
Seedcorn maggot: Yellowish-white legless maggots with a pointy head that damage seeds as well as the roots and stems.
Armyworms and Cutworms: They’re green, reddish, or black caterpillars. Armyworms feed on leaves and stems, while cutworms will feed near the soil level.
Pea Weevil: A brown-flecked beetle with a short and broad snout. The females lay eggs on young pods and their larvae feed on the seeds.
Root rot and damping off:A disease that stunts your plant’s growth, and turns the lower leaves yellow. Grey, black or red lesions will also appear on the lower stems and roots.
Fusarium wilt:A virus causing downward curling leaves, while the stems and roots will develop a yellow-orange discoloration. This disease becomes a problem when soil temperatures exceed 70°F (21°C).
Powdery mildew: A powdery white fungus will develop on the leaves and stem, and it will stunt your plants if an infection happens during their early growth stage. As well, infected pods might have black or brown spots on them.
Pea Enation Mosaic:A virus transmitted by aphids, it causes leaves to become crinkled and stunted, and white flecks will appear on the leaves and pods. As well, those pods might also be misshapen.
NOTE: Don’t plant your peas in the same spot more than once in 4 years - this will help keep them safe from disease infections.
If you're having an issue with your peas that wasn't listed above, be sure to let us know! Send us a message so that we can help your plants thrive :)
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