How & Do You Need to Thin Pea Plants?

Peas Too Close

Your peas are in the ground, they are sprouting and you’re feeling proud of yourself. And you should be. Waiting for plants to sprout takes patience. The work has just begun. Now it’s time to evaluate what has come up and answer the age old question, to thin or not to thin. This might be one of the most debated topics in gardening. How much room should I leave? It is really necessary? Seed packets don’t always agree. One pack from company A may say 1 inch, company B may say 2. What is one to do? Let’s address the issue first.

Why Thin Plants?
It’s question that has an obvious answer. You want to thin plants so they have enough room to grow, to gather nutrients from the ground, and simply produce the biggest and best crop. Not all plants need the same amount of space. You wouldn’t dream of planting trees two inches apart. Here is where things get tricky. You need to understand how a plant grows in order to know how to thin it.

How to Thin Pea Plants
Let’s compare two plants I have in my garden right now, peas and broccoli. Broccoli grows a big thick stem and leaves that get quite large. Thus it needs plenty of space to reach it’s potential. Peas on the other hand grow small leaves and, most importantly, peas grow vertically. They don’t need the horizontal space that broccoli does. Look at the stems of the pea plant. They don’t get really thick. At most as thick as a pencil. What you can’t see is their root system, I know that peas have shallow roots.

Taking all this information into consideration, I conclude that it isn’t vital to thin peas. I recommend you take a glance over, if you see two plants that are right on top of each other, then you can pull one, but no reason to get the ruler out here. Remember peas have shallow roots so you need to be careful if you are removing any plants not to distribute the surrounding ones. One gardener I spoke with years ago said he doesn’t worry about spacing as he believes peas will grow nice and tall as they compete for space, and being close together encourages that. Also, the peas can support each other better if they are close enough together.

Weeding peas is still important, so I encourage you to do that as soon as the peas have grown a bit and get the weeds out. You can put down some straw once you have weeded to try to prevent more weeds from coming back (or at least slow them down).