I garden in a pretty harsh climate - it can freeze any time until early June, and then the daytime temperatures can be up in the 90's overnight. Nights cool down to the 40's so using mulch too early in the season cools the soil too much for effective germination of many seeds. We average only seven inches of precipitation annually, and most of that in the form of snow November to March. Most years, we have no rain at all from May through September so everything has to be artificially irrigated. Afternoon winds and hot daytime temperatures make spray watering wasteful, so I use 50' soaker hoses on my wide garden beds.
The land also slopes downward towards the east so instead of long rows, I've free-form shaped each bed into a flattened "S" shape to create a terraced effect on the slope, and arranged the four "S" shapes of the main garden into a decorative four-square. With wider paths between the beds and a small central circular flowerbed with a sundial, my garden is attractive as well as productive (bottom center on the aerial photo of our lot; the grey roofed buildings are our neighbors' below us). I rotate my crops around through five beds, so don't have any permanent structures as part of any one bed. Everything gets taken apart and stored at the end of the season, and reconstructed anew each Spring. And this year, I've resorted to something different in my ongoing pursuit of peas.
Fresh-picked home-grown peas - nothing like what you buy in a store: memories of shelling English peas in the backyard as a child; flat Chinese pea pods still crunchy in a stir-fry; grazing on raw Snap peas right there in the garden. I love peas, and haven't had a decent crop for years. The past couple of years, I was able to protect the young plants with wire until they got tall enough to survive assaults by bugs and birds, but wasn't getting many peas. Finally, I caught the guineas in the act of stretching up to eat the flowers before they had time to set fruit. And then this year, sparrows or quail got under the wire to the little pea plants as soon as they emerged from the ground (they got all the lettuce seedlings too, and almost destroyed the spinach that overwintered). Desperate for some fresh green things myself, it was time to take desperate measures!
It's getting late in the season for pea planting - if I wait too long the summer heat sets in, and that's it for the pea plants. So before replanting my pea patches, I soaked the seeds overnight and then kept them wet down with paper towels a couple of days until they started to sprout, then planted the sprouted seeds (I reseeded various lettuces too). My pea support trellises are t-posts pounded into the ground and then wire fencing wired between them - strong enough to both support pea vines and withstand our afternoon winds. And then, something desperate - I draped netting, originally designed to cover an entire fruit tree, over the entire "S" shaped bed, supported by the pea t-posts plus a few more here and there, held down with rocks and bricks. I think this just might work! I can leave the netting in place, and sit underneath when it's time to harvest. As long as the wind doesn't tear it apart, or a late heavy snow rip it down, I just might get good crops of both greens and peas. The heart of a gardener is ever hopeful.