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“If you don’t like peas, it is probably because you have not had them fresh. It is the difference between reading a great book and reading the summary on the back.” — Lemony SnicketI brought my amaryllis bulb out of hibernation a little too late for Christmas, but I had some beautiful red blooms for Valentine’s Day. It takes about six to eight weeks to get this plant to bloom. What do you do after it blooms? Cut back the stalk once the blooms die, let the leaves grow, and start to fertilize.

You should fertilize full strength once a month or one-quarter the strength every week. Do not overwater and never pour water directly on top of the bulb. This will cause it to rot. Place the plant in a sunny window until June, then move to a partly sunny spot outdoors, usually in the southeast or northeast and never in west. The west side is much too hot for them.

Keep the plants watered and fertilized all summer and you will have beautiful plants next winter. I usually put them, pot and all, in a dark spot in the basement about the time of the first frost and bring them out about six to eight weeks before I want them to bloom. Do not water them while they are sleeping.

Pea seeds

One of my favorite vegetables to grow are peas. I plant the seeds outdoors when the soil temperature is about 45 degrees for best germination. The middle of April is my goal. This year I would like earlier peas to eat, about June 1. To get peas that early, I plant two seeds to each peat pot indoors in the beginning of March, place the pots on a heat mat until they germinate, and then keep the plants fairly cool. I will put them in a mini-greenhouse around April 1, then into the garden around April 15.

I think the best peas are peas from the sugar snap family. These peas are a cross between an edible-podded pea and a thick-shelled pea. You get the best of both because when the peas are young you can eat them pod and all. When they mature, you have shelled peas. It is one stop shopping.

Gourmet shallots

Have you ever grown shallots? Shallots are a gourmet vegetable. They are almost like a very mild onion and are prized by chefs worldwide. Shallots are fairly expensive to buy. However, you can grow them from small bulbs. Even though the bulbs are pricey, each bulb will produce six to 10 shallots.

If planting them this year, make sure they get all the nutrients they need. A good fertilizer would be 5-10-5 and about one cup for a 10-foot row. When planting shallots leave about ⅓ of its top above soil and after they sprout, a fertilizer like Miracle Grow will be enough.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.