Children and adults alike both love to grow and eat peas. A sweet, tender vegetable that is simple to cook and works well in a variety of casseroles and dishes, peas are also easy to grow and not particularly fussy.
You can find a selection of pea varieties at your local garden center or in a seed catalogue. All of them require the same easy care and will produce a bounty of tender, tasty crop over the summer months.
Best Soil for Growing Peas
Peas thrive in well drained soil and will do well in a sandy bed that’s rich in organic matter. Mix kitchen composts and composted manure into the soil before planting and aim for a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.
Full sun is good but peas will do just fine in partial shade as well. Mix in some wood ashes for a boost your peas will thank you for.
When to Plant Peas
These garden favorites will tolerate a little cold. Plant them direct into the vegetable patch as soon as the soil can be worked and your compost mixed in. The seed will germinate in soil at temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can also start peas in the greenhouse or windowsill a few weeks before the last frost and plant out when the garden is ready for them.
How to Plant Peas
For direct sowing, plant peas in a double row (two rows 3 to 6” apart) against a trellis or fence. Since they naturally climb, providing them with support will keep the plants healthy and productive all season long. It will also help to keep the base of the plant to over heat, causing the fruit to be less flavorful and the pods stringy.
The next set of double rows should be planted about 24” from the last and should have their own fence or trellis to climb.
Dig down 2 to 3” and plant pea seeds about 1 to 2” apart. They don’t mind being crowded together.
You can pick up treated or untreated pea seeds. When planting the untreated varieties be sure that the soil is not soggy and is well aerated or else the seeds will rot quickly and you’ll lose out.
Proper Care of Peas
Keep the soil evenly moist in the vegetable patch, but water low down near the base of the pea plants. Use a soaker hose for the gentlest method in the best position. Mulch around the plants once they’ve began to grow well and you’ll help cut down on weeds and moisture loss.
Watch the soil during flowering and as the pea pods are setting. This is when even moisture is most important to produce a tasty crop.
When to Harvest Peas
Peas generally take between 55 and 70 days to mature in the garden. Watch for the fruit to show signs of maturity such as when the pods become plump.
The younger peas are when you pick them, the smaller and sweeter they will be. Let them grow on the vine a little more and see whether you prefer that taste or whether the mellowed flavor of larger peas is more for you.
How to Harvest Peas
Peas are simple to harvest and a favorite gardening task for the kids and grandkids to do. The pods are simply picked directly off of the vine and can be collected in baskets and bags. Split the pods to use the peas inside on your menu or cook the entire pea pod, as often happens with the sugar snap pea.
It’s best to continually pick the pods as they mature. This encourages more growth and production, resulting in more delicious peas for your table.
Common Pea Pests and Diseases
There aren’t many pests that specifically attack peas. The usual beetles and flies can be found hanging around and are deterred by natural predators such as parasitic wasps and lacewings.
Root rot is a common disease that can destroy the entire plant. Keep the soil moist, but never soggy and install a firm vertical support for your pea plants. This will allow air to flow around the roots and may also help to deter winged pests and mildew on the leaves.
Gardening Tips and Tricks for Growing Peas
Irrigation is an excellent practice to employ in your pea gardens. Although it will require keeping a daily watch on the plant, by irrigating around it you’re ensuring continuous, even moisture. This will result in an overflow of fruit and healthy, attractive pea vines. The support is also essential to provide good growing conditions and should be firm and strong.
Include these tender vegetables for a sweet alternative on your table. Fairly simple to grow once the garden is set up, peas are a family favorite on the menu and a healthy patch will produce enough to share.