If you have gotten your pea garden started for the season here are some of my top tips for growing peas. Nothing beats the sweet taste of freshly picked peas. You will never have that experience with grocery store peas. Near the end of this post you will find a video preview of what my garden setup for 2014.
1. Plant Early
Once your soil is ready to go, plant your peas. They handle a frost, no sweat. They like growing in the cooler weather of spring and fall. I don’t know about you but after a winter of no gardening, I want to get my first harvest of something as soon as possible, so why wait?
2. No Spacing Worries
Peas are one of those crops where you don’t need a lot of space between plants. Seed packets may tell you a certain amount you must leave. One experienced gardener once told me to plant them close together as it promotes their upward growth. Peas have shallow roots too. When I plant peas I don’t worry much about spacing or thinning.
3. Check the Height Yours Peas Grow To
Peas grow vertically. But how tall they grow will depend on the exact variety. Check the seed packet before planting or better yet before purchasing. You don’t want to plan for a 3 foot tall trellis when your peas could make it up to 6 feet, there are some varieties than can go as high as 10!
4. Always Stake Your Peas
Some pea you buy will say no staking required. While it may not be required, I still recommend it. They are easier to pick that way. Plus most people have an unlimited amount of vertical space, not so horizontally. So think upwards. See how I grow peas using oats as a trellis
5. Separate Shelling, Snow, and Sugar Snap Peas
For ease of harvest, you will want to clearly define where your peas are by type (shelling, snow, sugar). It can be hard to easily tell which pea you are seeing as they begin to grow. Shelling peas may start out looking flat like snow peas or plump like sugar snaps. Problem is most shelling varieties are not meant for eating whole so if you mistake them you will end up eating something that is too string or too tough. Watch the YouTube video below with me explaining how I set up my garden this year to keep varieties separate.
6. Try Different Types
There are plenty of choices to choose from when it comes to buying peas. Don’t be afraid to try several different varieties before choosing the ones you like. I usually have some new ones to try out every year (see the varieties I am growing this year). One thing I will is when you are looking for shelling peas pick varieties that produce a lot of peas per pod. You will get more from less work (unless you like shucking peas!)
7. Keep the Harvest Coming
When the harvest begins be sure to get out there and pick those peas regularly. It may start out every couple days, then when things really get going you should be out there daily. You don’t want them to get too tough and you want to pick them so you have more to pick. Depending on the weather and variety you should have 2 to 4 weeks of harvesting, with 3 weeks being the average.