When you are expecting to harvest something for the first time of the biggest challenges is being patient. You want it yesterday. Patience as in most cases will reward you. And out of all pea types, shelling or English peas require the most patience. As you watch the plant go from flower….
It may be tempting to start your harvest. But if you want to get your maximum yield you will need to practice some restraint. The pods will begin to fatten up before the peas inside have done so. You want the pods to fill really full, like there is no room for anything but the peas inside. If you pick them too early, the peas inside will be small – still tasty, but small. If you get them right where they are perfectly plumb you will be rewarded with large, candy sweet peas.
In the above photo, you can see the peas inside the pod are starting to grow but aren’t fully developed yet, this pod is not ready to be picked.
These are Desiree Dwarf Blauwaschokkers, a purple podded pea with green peas on the inside. The pods are fully developed. This is what they should look like when ready to be picked.
The length of the pea does not matter in terms of readiness. The Desiree peas I grew were shorter than the Improved Maestro peas. Length is just a manner of variety.
When Will Shelling Peas Be Ready Compared to Snow or Snap Peas?
If you planted all your pea types at the same time, generally it will be 1-2 weeks after you begin picking snow or snap peas until the time you can be shelling peas.
Peas are Turning White/Light Green
Once you see the pods turning a light green or white in color this means that you haven’t waited too long. The peas inside have started to turn their sugars into starch. At this point you can either, pick them for adding to soups as they won’t be as good to eat raw. Or you can continue to let them dry out and you will have seed for next year. I would try to same at least some seeds. I find a great satisfaction in the following year getting to plant seed that I actually grew myself. It’s a way to make you feel like real farmer. It’s also nice to be able to save even a little bit of money.