One of the best vegetables for a beginner to grow is peas. In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to get started growing peas.
I absolutely love peas. Not the mushy, tasteless store-bought peas, but the fresh peas from the garden.
I love running out to the garden before dinner and searching the vines for pods that look ready.
I love the sweet peas flavor, and distinct texture.
Besides their large yield, storage ability and deliciousness, peas also fix nitrogen in the soil.
This way, it makes the soil more available for other plants.
Another great thing to know about them is that they require little extra fertility to grow and produce pods. With peas, you wouldn’t really have to bother about pests and diseases!
Although, you need to be careful about aphids, but getting rid of them is easy, too. Check out my post on natural ways to get rid of aphids.
Growing them is even better. The young plants grow so quickly I swear you could watch them.
They’re cold hardy and forgiving. I say forgiving because they let you know when they need water and bounce back quickly when given what they need.
In addition to being easy to grow, they fix nitrogen into the soil, making it available to other plants.
Whether you plant other crops nearby, or simple rotate your crops yearly, I love that peas give back to the soil.
Peas also have a lucky superstition for the bachelorette. There’s an old wive’s tale that a young lady who finds a pea pod with nine peas in it, the next man she sees will become her husband.
In a similar fashion, if she suspends the pea pod with nine peas in it over her doorway using a white thread, the next man to come through the door will become her husband.
Nutritional Value of Peas
These tiny little balls of green goodness are jam-packed with nutritional power.
In additional to being sweet and tasty, one cup of cooked peas contains:
- 40% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin K,
- 36% of your manganese (the sneaky little nutrient that assist in metabolic action, the thyroid gland, sex hormones and the regulation of blood sugar),
- 30% of your vitamin B1,
- 27% of your copper
- 26% of your daily vitamin C
- 23% of your phosphorus
- 22% of your folate
- and between 16-18% of vitamin B6, B3, and B2
In addition to all of the above, peas also contain lutein and zeaxanthin – known to promote eye health.
They are also packed with antioxidants which may help build up our immune system.
Peas also have anti-inflammatory nutrients that may help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
The Difference Between Peas and Beans
Did you know there’s no real difference between peas and beans?
Generally speaking, beans are considered seeds of any plant in the Fabaceae family (or legumes).
Peas usually refer to seeds from Pisum sativum, a specific species of legume.
Before You Start Planting
Peas are one of the first plants to plant in early Spring, as soon as the soil is workable enough not to freeze.
Generally you’ll direct sow seeds in February, March or April, depending on your planting zone. Think 4-6 weeks before your last frost date.
These plants thrive in cool weather and they have the ability to tolerate a light frost.
Once germinated, these plants can go well with the cold breeze and the wet climate of Spring.
You might want to count on your soil temperature to determine how long your pea seeds will take to germinate.
Remember that higher soil temperature will need a shorter amount of time for your seeds to germinate.
This can mean that a soil temperature of 40 degrees F can take your pods a month in order to fully sprout, while it only takes a week for your pods to sprout in a soil temperature of 60degrees F.
This means that the time it takes for your pods to germinate well may really be affected by the soil temperature, so you might want to consider that one, too.
To make sure you make the best out of your garden, start off by selecting a good location, where full sun can be expected most times.
Peas grown under the heat of the sun make the sweetest, as compared to those who don’t get direct sunlight.
Next, make sure your soil gets good drainage. As peas don’t really go well with wet areas, you might want to do away with the idea of planting in a wet area, as wet soil encourages pea seeds to rot even before they can germinate.
You can consider raising your garden beds six to eight inches higher to make sure water drains well.
Wood ashes and bone meal placed in the soil help make your peas grow better as they need phosphorus and potassium.
However, make sure not to place too much nitrogen on your plant beds.
There are generally three type of pea for home gardeners to choose from:
- English peas (shelling peas): inedible pod with large, edible peas
- Snow peas: edible pods with small peas inside
- Snap peas: tender, edible pods will full-sized peas (these are our favorites – think sugar snap peas)
It should say on the seed packet what type of pea it is.
Depending on your family, you may want to plant different pea varieties for different purposes.
Growing Peas – Planting
Before you start planting your green peas, make sure to soak seeds in water overnight.
When planting, you should consider sowing peas in wide rows, since once peas grow close to each other; they start shading out weeds, keeping the soil cool.
You can place your seeds 12-24 inches apart.
When covering the seeds with soil, cover it with an inch of soil during springtime and cover it with two inches of soil in the summer.
Water the plants deeply only once a week.
Make sure to water your plants when they are blossoming and starting to produce pods.
Since pea vines love to climb a fence or trellis, make sure to prepare support for them.
If you’re using a trellising system or support you can plant double rows of peas and have them growing up each side.
Peas have shallow roots so make sure to be careful and take caution when weeding them.
There are certain pests or fungal diseases you might want to be on the lookout for when growing peas, or any plant for that matter including aphids, root rot, fusarium wilt, downy mildew, Mexican bean beetles, powdery mildew, root-knot nematodes, and wireworms.
Fusarium wilt, powdery mildew and downy mildew and fungi that you would want off your plants, while the other mentioned are insects.
A great way to prevent and/or treat most fungal diseases AND pests is by spraying neem oil, which is organic and not harmful to ingest (however I wouldn’t spray once seed pods develop.
Another way to prevent these problems from arising would be to cultivate peas in rotation with wheat or other plants.
This way, there will be an increase in soil carbon content which leads to better crop yields, too.
Harvesting Pea Pods
Pea pod harvest comes around 60 to 70 days after the pods have been planted.
Make sure to check your peas every day once flowers start blooming and keep them well picked. This way, more pods will be able to develop.
It is best to harvest your crops early in the morning. Wait for the dew to fully dry up.
When harvesting your peas, make sure to take care of your plant. Check if your pods are round, have a nice sheen and are bright green in color.
Peas with pods that are dull green and have ridges are past its time.
Always remember that pea stems are easily broken and are easily damage.
When harvesting, use two hands, one to pick your peas, and the other to take hold of the vine.
A great thing about peas is once harvest season starts, you can expect a rolling yield.
Make sure to make the most out of your harvest by picking every other day.
Heirloom Varieties of Peas
If you’re trolling your seed catalogs or local garden centers for peas, here are our favorite heirloom varietals. (We choose heirloom variety so we can harvest the seeds for next year’s crop).
- green arrow peas
- dwarf sugar snaps
- champion of england
- dutch gray pea
- tom thumb
If you’re growing Peas this year, here’s what you need to know:
1/2 – 1 inch per week
Direct sow 4-6 weeks before the last frost
Carrots, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Lettuce, Potatoes, Spinach
Avoid Planting With
Low maintenance. Climbing varieties will need some sort of trellis or support.
65-90 days. Harvest peas before fully ripe. This will encourage the plant to grow more pea pods.
Saving The Seeds
To save pea seeds, allow some of the pea pods to ripen and dry completely on the vine. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.