TICONDEROGA - Defying Mother Nature can be hazardous, but Heidi teRiele Karkoski, curator of the King's Garden at Fort Ticonderoga, will carry on a centuries-old tradition of planting peas before the chance of frost has passed.
"Wake up Spring! Peas for the King!" is a new family program scheduled for Saturday, April 25, nearly a month before most gardens are planted and long before the fort season starts.
Children and their parents will get their hands dirty planting peas directly into the cold earth where they will germinate as the ground warms up. Peas are considered a cool weather crop and can be planted twice a season for two harvests.
Karkoski will guide visitors through the basic techniques of preparing the ground, testing the soil temperature, setting the seeds and building a small trellis.
All this will take place in the demonstration garden known as the Garrison Garden.
Originally built by the French, three successive armies used the garrison garden at Fort Ticonderoga during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution. Vegetables were grown to supplement the regular rations, providing a source of vitamins and minerals essential to the health of the army. At one time the entire area where the Pavilion and the King's Garden now stand was given over to farming.
Along with this hands-on afternoon each child will sow their own 'crop' to take home with care and planting instructions. Peas in various stages of germination will be on hand to show participants what to expect from their peas as they mature.
Boots and gloves are recommended for working in the garden and pre-registration is encouraged by calling 585-2821. Children are $5 each and their parents are free. Access and parking are from the lower road in the garden parking lot.
The King's Garden opens for the regular season on June 1 and the fort on May 21. Both will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
New programs and celebrations include a Scottish Festival on June 20 and a birthday party on July 25 that will incorporate the fort's centennial and the quadricentennial of Champlain's landing. Information and schedule can be found at www.fortticonderoga.org