Growing peas can be fun, but also rewarding when it comes mealtime. Small pea crops are relatively easy to both plant and maintain, and can bring you delicious fresh peas that you and your family can enjoy for months.
Peas are best suited for growing during cool seasons, and in partial sunlight, making them the ideal vegetable to grow in a number of different locations around the world.
If you’re interested in growing peas – be them sweet peas, snow peas, or snap peas — for yourself, there are just a few things you need to know you get started.
Keep it Cool
Peas are a cool-season crop, so you don’t want to plant your seeds in the heat of summer, or in climates where temperatures are often scorching. In general, peas grow best at temperatures under 70 degrees, which makes them the perfect crop to grow during spring or fall when the temperatures are still pretty mild.
Growing peas is best done four to six weeks after the last spring frost in your area, with the best time to sow seeds specifically being when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees. So, it’s cold, but not freezing.
You want to plant seeds one inch deep in the ground, two inches apart. It’s best to plant seeds while the soil is still a bit cold, but you also don’t want your seeds hanging out in wet soil for too long or getting covered in snow repeatedly – so the right timing is everything.
If the temperature drops considerably for several days after planting your peas, then you want to monitor the plants and potentially be ready to replant them.
In general, cooler is better. Pea plants are strong enough to battle it out through several frosts and cooler temperatures. The plants can’t handle heat very well, however, and have trouble tolerating temperatures that rise over 70 degrees. A temperature over 75 degrees for a prolonged period of time can mean death for a plant.
Find a Good Spot
Peas don’t like being moved, so when you plant your peas you want to be placing seeds in the plant’s final resting place.
If you’re growing peas in addition to some other crops, then it can often be good to plant your peas nearby, where crops such as corn can shade them if the sun starts to heat up.
The best soil for growing peas depends in part on what time of year you’re initially planting the crop. Early peas can benefit from sandy loam soil that will get warm in the sun. A late pea crop, however, can benefit from a heavier soil that will help keep it cool as the temperature rises.
Peas bring their own nitrogen to the ground, so if you do choose to use fertilizer on plants, you want to do so sparingly. Once your peas have sprouted, and are about 6-inches tall, you may want to add compost to the sides of the plants to help aid in growth.
Mulch can also be a fantastic addition as temperatures rise. Mulch will help keep the roots of your pea plants cool, and will help keep moisture in as temperatures rise.
Growing peas starts to get a bit tricky when it comes to watering. Giving your plants the perfect amount of water is a careful science. Water your peas too much, and your peas can become waterlogged, ultimately causing them to rot. Water them too little, and you’ll end up killing your plants.
While the plants are germinating or blooming, or when the pods are swelling regularly water your peas so that they’re moist, but not wet.
Once a plant sprouts, then you can drop their water intake down to a half-inch of water every week. Once your peas bloom, you can increase that amount to an inch a week until your pods have completely filled out.
Caring for Your Plants
Pea plants are very fragile, so while you’re growing peas you want to try and avoid moving the plants or even touching them when you don’t need to.
Try and keep the area around your pea plants free from weeds, and regularly check on your plants to ensure they have enough water and are not being attacked by any pests.
Peas particularly lend themselves to attracting pests such as Aphids, Mexican Bean Beetles and Fusarium Wilt.
In general, if you keep a watchful eye while you’re growing peas, then the plants will remain safe and flourish.
As your pea plant produces peas, you want to harvest them. Continuously harvesting peas from your plants encourages the plants to produce more pods, and consequently more peas.
Peas are best picked in the mornings, when they’re crispest, after the morning dew has dried.
Use two hands to remove peas from the vine, in order to avoid damage. Use one hand to hold the vine, and the other to pull the peas off.
Freshly harvested peas can be kept in your refrigerator and consumed for roughly five days after they’ve been harvested. The peas can also be frozen or canned and enjoyed later on.
Growing peas can be a fun and rewarding experience if you do so carefully and thoughtfully!