Do I Need To Start Peas Indoors?

When it comes to the topic of starting seeds indoors you are going to receive a passionate response. Some people fear it. They have watched their seeds fail to thrive and die. I feel like I am more in that camp. There are also those out there that love starting their own seeds indoors. They look forward to it each year. They like to be able to get a head start and to have more choices for what to grow – things like tomatoes and peppers. This leads me to a question I got my twitter account recently. Someone wanted to know where to start peas indoors or just directly sow them in the ground. So of course with this being the pea project I had to answer that question in blog format.

Do I Need To Start Peas Indoors?

Nope. You certainly do not. All of you in the I hate starting seeds indoors camp, please take a moment to breath a sigh of relief. Now here are my reasons why.

Reasons to NOT Start Peas Indoors

Peas Like It Cold
One of the reasons people start plants indoors is that are trying to get a head start, especially with a plant like a tomato that takes a long time to grow. In northern climates you would not dream of directly sowing tomato seeds and expecting to get a crop in time. Growing season is not long enough. Peas like it cold though. They can be planted before the last frost. A head start is not needed.

Not Enough Plants
I always find it sad when people buy pea starter plants. They buy a 6-pack of plants and go onto to producing only a small harvest. 6 tomato plants are going to produce a lot more food (in terms of weight) than 6 pea plants will. They are smaller and you need more of them to have a sizable harvest.

Easy to Sow
Peas are pretty easy to directly sow. Typically in 7 to 10 days they sprout. Among veggies I think them and beans are the two easiest things to directly seed and grow and are what I recommend to first time gardeners.

Royal Snow Pea
These are Royal Snow Peas that I directly sowed in 2016

Directly Sowing Peas

As soon as the soil can be worked you can plants your peas. By the time most of us think of starting peas indoors you can probably already plant them out. The soil temperature can be as low as 45 degrees and the seeds will germinate. Keep in mind that the air temperature and the soil temperature are not the same thing. For me, when I directly sow peas I wait until it is warm enough outside so that I am not shriving. Temperatures here in Michigan can range from the 30s to 70s in April. That is warm enough for the peas to germinate.

Do I Need to Soak the Seeds Beforehand?

People say that soaking the peas beforehand helps speed germination. And I believe that is true. I however have never remembered to do this time right before planting. Maybe I will finally this year, so I can compare. But anyway the point is that you don’t have to soak them. It can help, but if you need to plant RIGHT NOW then it’s totally ok to skip this step.

When Might I Consider Starting Them Indoors?

I haven been mainly speaking about growing peas in places like where I live – zone 5, SE Michigan. If you live in a place that has a really short spring and you got to high temperatures rather fast, then I would consider starting them indoors because your growing seasons for peas at least is short. I would look into trying to get them in the ground in late winter even. Peas can survive a frost and even some snow.

These peas got snowed on and survived! Thanks to Lucinda Pinchot for the photo

What Do You Do?

I would love to hear your pea growing experience. Do you start indoors or just directly sow? When do you plant them outside. Share in the comments below.