Gardening in Hilo — Peas, Please!

by Lisa Atkinson, Paradise Hand Pies

When I first moved here, I was excited to live in a climate where you could grow a garden year-round. I hated gardening as a kid (it was on my ‘chore’ list, so ewww, yuck), but the first time I owned my own home, I remember feeling so proud to be able to plant flowers and trees, and my own edible garden. I have always LOVED English shelling peas (my childhood nickname from my dad was “Pea Pockets,” because I would sneak out to the garden when my parents weren’t looking and fill my pockets with pea pods).

Every place I’ve ever lived, I’ve planted peas, following my great-grandmother’s edict of planting peas on Good Friday. This worked well in Seattle, but here all I’ve found is failure. I’ve tried planting earlier, later, buying a giant canopy to keep them covered during the heat of the day, etc. All failures. I get that I’m not in “Kansas” anymore, but I also know that we have 11 climate zones on this Island- there MUST be someplace English shelling peas will grow. I’ve made pleas to farms that grow microgreens, but to date no one wants to host the pea patch of my dreams. Friends, Hawaii Countymen and women, lend me your higher-elevation plots to help me reach my dreams of being able to stuff my pockets full of delicious, plump, juicy shelling peas. I promise I’ll share.

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