How to Grow Peas

Peas are one of my favorite vegetables. I like them fresh out of the garden. And since I do not use chemicals of any sort in my garden I can sample the crop right in the garden! IMG_0593
Creative Commons License photo credit: NatalieHG

Peas used to have to be grown only in the early spring or later in the season as a fall crop. But with the new heat resistant varieties the season has been extended. I have also found planting the later crops near a tall plant that will shade them during the hottest hours of the day helps too. So for a season long crop of peas stagger you planting time by two to three weeks.

How to plant peas

First choose a site that gets full sun. If you have a garden spot with a slight slope and southern exposure that would be a perfect location to plant your peas.

Peas do not grow well in wet soil so check the drainage. Adding compost should provide the right texture and help with drainage. At this time also check the soil for a ph of 6.0 to 6.8. Testing kits can be picked up at any garden center.

I have found growing peas in raised beds makes soil maintenance easier and I also add a fence to one side of the raised bed for the peas to vine up. Growing you peas vertically makes them easier to harvest and saves space in the garden.

Pea seeds germinate so easily, and because you’ll want to make successive plantings, there’s really no advantage to buying started plants. Most people sow peas directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. This is usually about five weeks before the last expected frost. For my first batch of peas I start the seeds in pots in the house. I have found that I have a better germination rate and loose fewer plants for the first planting, but I live in a cool zone 5 with an unpredictable wet spring. First peas
Creative Commons License photo credit: S0MEBODY 3LSE

If this is your first time for planting peas you will want to plant the seeds an inch deep, 3 to 4 inches apart, in rows about 3 feet apart. Place your supports the same time as you plant your peas. This ensures that you will get them in the ground before the plants intertwine. (I always used to put off getting my supports up and that ended up making more work later on) Start guiding the vines up your supports as soon as they’re long enough to climb.

If you want a continuous supply of peas during the growing season plant a different, heat-resistant variety a few weeks after the first sowing. Then 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost date, plant a crop in another bed for an early autumn harvest

There are three different varieties of peas: English or garden peas (only the seeds are eaten), Chinese or snow peas (picked when the pods have reached full size but the seeds are still small and eaten pod and all), and snap peas (picked when both pod and seeds are mature; both are edible).

Peas will be ready for picking about three weeks after the plants begin to flower. Pick early and often for sweet peas and a larger harvest.

I have also found that I have very good luck growing peas in a large container. The container garden has a fun look with peas growing on a trellis and I add a few flowers and herbs for color. This makes a perfect patio or porch container garden

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