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Easy Guide to Growing Perfect Peas

With pretty flowers, crisp green pods, climbing tendrils and delicate leaves, peas are an attractive and delicious addition to any kitchen garden.

Easy Guide to Growing Perfect Peas - How to Grow, Harvest, Save Seeds & Cook Peas | The Micro Gardener

Best of all, every part of a pea plant is edible!

These little powerhouses may be low in calories but peas are packed with a surprising number of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and are high in micro-nutrients, vitamins, fibre, protein and minerals that provide us with a wide range of health benefits.

Peas are annual vegetables – best eaten raw (straight off the plant before their natural sugars turn to starch and lose their sweet flavour).

They are easy to grow so are an ideal first crop for children and beginner gardeners.

How to Grow Peas

 

Timing

Peas love cool, frost-free growing conditions (they suit cold climates/cool seasons). Flowers are affected by frost and pods won’t form so check the best time to sow for your local climate. I get best results by sowing in the first moon quarter of the month to take advantage of moisture in the soil and a time of prolific growth for above ground plants like peas.

 

Snow pea flowers & pods - peas can take up to 3 weeks to mature from flower to pod. | The Micro Gardener

Peas will grow, develop flowers and fruit in about 10-14 weeks depending on the variety.

 

If you want ‘fast food’:

  • Choose snow peas because you don’t have to wait for the pods to fill.
  • Start with seedlings rather than seeds.

 

Sugar Snap Pea Seedlings - save time by planting seedlings if you have a short season. | The Micro Gardener

Try planting a few pea varieties if you want to stagger your harvest time.

 

Growing Conditions

 

  • Peas are low maintenance, easy plants to grow and after germinating, usually only need watering, support and harvesting.
  • Peas like well drained loamy soils, with plenty of organic matter and a soil pH 6.0-7.5. They love a sunny spot but not extreme heat or too much wind. They like moist soil but not waterlogged feet!

Companion Planting

Avoid planting peas in the same container or near garlic, onions, chives and shallots that compete and stunt plant growth. (I’ve tested this out and it’s the same result for beans!) They seem to grow well planted with beans or with low-growing carrots, radish and turnips.

Sowing & Spacing

  • Pre-soak seeds overnight in warm water to soften the seed coat. Spraying liquid seaweed on the seeds when planting helps stimulate germination and promote stronger growth.
  • As a general guide, sow seeds directly into moist soil or seed raising mix 2-3cm (1in) deep.

 

Snow peas growing with alyssum in my container garden | The Micro Gardener

As a guide, I sow 6-8 seeds in a 20cm (8in) pot and a few more in a 30cm (12in) planter.

 

Sow 10cm (4in) apart or in rows about 60cm (24in) apart to help air circulation and prevent disease in a garden bed.

 

Wait until seeds germinate (sprout) before watering again to prevent rotting. Carefully transplant seedlings when 5cm (2in) high. | The Micro Gardener

Wait until seeds germinate (sprout) before watering again to prevent rotting. Carefully transplant seedlings when 5cm (2in) high.

 

If you are growing more than one variety, separate them in different containers or garden beds if you want to save seed so their vines don’t intermingle and you can correctly identify them.

Support Structures

Both climbing and dwarf pea varieties need support. Maximise vertical space by training climbers to grow up corn stalks; a boundary fence; lattice; stakes; a trellis; tepee/tripod; or frame with wires, string or horizontals every 20cm or so to support their growth.

 

Maximise growing space and have easier access with simple tripod structures | The Micro Gardener

Vertical structures like these pea tepees make harvesting and maintenance easier.

 

Some more ideas to inspire you:

 

Sugar snap peas climbing my  4 legged bamboo tepee with string | The Micro Gardener

Sugar snap peas climbing my 4 legged bamboo tepee with string tied horizontally & diagonally for maximum support

 [See DIY Tutorial: How to Make a Bamboo Tepee in a Minute]

 

Pea trellis | The Micro Gardener

An alternative bamboo and string trellis vertical support for peas

Via Garden Therapy

 

Repurposed bike rim trellis - a low cost vertical garden solution | The Micro Gardener

Two old bike tyre rims from a bicycle shop were cleverly upcycled into a pea trellis.

 Via Suited to the Seasons

 

Pipe & chicken wire A-frame pea trellises maximise growing space | The Micro Gardener

Pipe & chicken wire A-frame pea trellises - if you want to make a similar design remember to avoid plastic made out of PVC (recycle number 3) as this leaches toxic chemicals into your soil. Look for a safe alternative.

 

Dwarf peas grow better supported by pruned sticks or bamboo canes to help minimise pest and disease problems.

 

Dwarf and sweet peas suit hanging baskets | The Micro Gardener

If you have no vertical supports, plant dwarf peas in a hanging basket to grow down for easy access harvesting.

 

Growing Tips

  • Peas are light feeders and produce their own nitrogen in the soil so they are a cheap crop to grow! Avoid over fertilising your soil or the plants will produce leaves but not flowers and pods.
  • Snow peas, sugar snaps and garden peas are all members of the Fabaceae (legume) family and help to ‘fix’ nitrogen in your soil in a form your plants can easily take up with the help of bacteria around the roots. These soil bacteria convert nitrogen from the air into plant food.
  • Growing legumes (like peas and beans) helps feed and improve your soil without buying in fertiliser!

 

Snap peas flowering and well mulched | The Micro Gardener

Peas have shallow roots so mulch well to avoid weeds and retain soil moisture.

 

  • Watering: Keep soil moist while flowers and pods are developing – this is critical to their healthy development.
  • Pinch out the shoots at the top of each plant when you see the first pods are ready to pick and add to your salads. This helps stimulate the plant to produce more pods.

 

Crop rotation

To make the most of the free nitrogen in your soil after growing peas, plant leafy greens or a heavy feeding fruiting crop like tomato, capsicum, chilli, eggplant or potato.

 

Snow peas and other crops are rotated in my raised hay bale garden. | The Micro Gardener

There will be much less chance of fungal diseases by rotating crops from different families in the same container or garden bed.

 

Pests & Diseases

 

Watch out for thrips, mites, aphids, cutworms, root knot nematodes and fungal diseases. The organic strategies I use for healthy peas:

  • Plant disease resistant varieties
  • Practice crop rotation
  • Space plants adequately
  • Add compost and organic soil conditioners seasonally (rock minerals and complete organic fertilisers)
  • Apply liquid seaweed as a foliar spray on warm sunny days to strengthen plants and build resistance to disease.

 

Sugar snap peas ready for harvest | The Micro Gardener

Sowing early in the season may also prevent pests from affecting growth and production.

 

Harvesting

 

  • Pick your peas just before you want them on your plate! Eat as soon after harvesting for freshness and flavour.

 

Pea pods ready for picking | The Micro Gardener

Harvest when the pods are bright green, full and plump depending on the variety.

 

  • Start picking from the bottom of the plant and work up to the top, holding the plant in one hand and snapping the pea off with the other to avoid breaking the stem. Regular picking produces more peas.
  • Snow peas are great value because you eat the whole pod, seeds and all before the peas mature and they have a longer harvesting period (5-6 weeks) than garden peas (2-3 weeks).
Ripe snow peas with dew on a cool morning | The Micro Gardener

They have sweet crisp flat pods that are eaten before the peas mature.

 

  • Sugar snap pods have thick walls and are picked when the pods are plump and round.

 

Green baby peas in a pod | The Micro Gardener

Garden peas are eaten when they are mature by discarding the pod and shelling the peas.

.

  • Pea shoots (the top 5-7cm) can be picked and used in stir fries or salads when the plant is at full height.
  • After your plants have stopped producing flowers and pods, harvest the leaves for salads and stir fries.
  • Avoid leaving pods on the vine unless you are saving for seed, otherwise your plant will age and stop producing pods.

 

Plump fully mature sugar snap pea pods | The Micro Gardener

Check vines daily - these over ripe sugar snap pods were too starchy to eat but I dried them and saved the seeds instead.

 

  • After harvesting, leave roots to rot in the ground to release nitrogen in the soil and feed your next crop.

Saving Seed

To save money and grow your crop for free next season, allow pods to dry on the plant until they go brown and brittle or cut at the base and hang to dry under cover.

 

Pea seeds drying - larger seeds contain a better food source for healthy plants. | The Micro Gardener

Remove dried peas from the pod and leave on a tray or plate for a few days.

 

Store in a self-seal bag in a labelled envelope with the variety/date in a cool dark place or an airtight bottle with some dry rice to absorb any moisture.

In the Kitchen…

 

Enjoy them as sprouts, stir-fries, Asian dishes, soups, pasta or any number of other recipes.

 

Snow and snap peas are crunchy additions to salads | The Micro Gardener

I love the crunchy texture and sweet flavour of peas in our salads

 

Sprouting: Peas and snow peas can be grown as nutrient rich tasty sprouts, microgreens or added to breads, salad garnishes and soups.

Cooking: Fresh raw peas have maximum nutrients and flavour so if cooking, use minimal water and stir fry or steam quickly until just tender.

 

Fresh peas can be snap frozen after blanching to retain nutrients and flavour. | The Micro Gardener

Boil frozen peas for about 1-2 minutes.

 

Drying: Allow peas to air dry for a few days then store in a sealed jar in your pantry to use in soups or casseroles. The texture, flavour and nutrient value won’t be the same as fresh or frozen peas although this is an alternative to extending your harvest. Pre-soak peas overnight before cooking.

Freezing: Pick, shell and blanch in boiling water for 1 minute before cooling. Then bag and freeze immediately.

 

Snap peas can be eaten fresh, cooked or frozen | The Micro Gardener

Sugar snap peas can be blanched for 2 minutes, cooled and frozen whole also.

 

Too many or too few? If you don’t have enough fresh peas for a meal or have an abundant harvest, freeze fresh peas in plastic bags or containers.

 

Freshly harvested snap peas in a basket | The Micro Gardener

If any peas actually make it into your kitchen and aren’t consumed while you are picking, there are plenty of yummy ways to enjoy them.

 

Peas Please! Delicious Recipes…

 

Mixed Pea, Mint & Feta Salad

Mixed Pea, Mint & Feta Salad

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mixed Pea, Mint & Feta Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad, Side Dish
Serves: 6
 
A quick to prepare salad with fresh ingredients.
Ingredients
  • 200g podded fresh peas or frozen peas
  • 200g sugar snap peas
  • 200g small snow peas
  • 100g pea shoots*
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 200g marinated Persian feta*, drained
  • * Persian feta is from delis, or use other marinated feta. Pea shoots are available from greengrocers.
  • Dressing:
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed with salt
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs dried mint
Instructions
  1. For the dressing, combine the crushed garlic, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Stir in the mint and season with black pepper.
  2. In a large pan of boiling salted water, cook fresh peas for 5-6 minutes (3 minutes if frozen), adding the sugar snap and snow peas for the final 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Cool completely.
  3. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the pea shoots, feta, mint and dressing and toss gently to combine.
  4. Enjoy!

 

 

I’d love to hear your experiences with growing peas so please leave a comment!  Keep up to date with new posts by subscribing to my newsletter (and grab your free eBook) or click on the RSS feed below or to the right.

 

© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2011-2013 – http://www.themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Easy Guide to Growing Perfect Peas”

  1. Trevoron 29 Jun 2013 at 10:35 am

    What a beautiful page on growing peas. We love them too.

    One thing I would like to add is picking the growing tips of the vine.
    They are delicious raw or in a braised dish or in soup. Tender and sweet.
    I think picking off the tips also stimulates secondary growth and gives a bushier plant instead of one that is too tall.

  2. The Micro Gardeneron 29 Jun 2013 at 11:57 am

    Hi Trevor – thanks for your positive feedback and tip about pinching off the pea tips. We’ve been enjoying Sugar Snaps for a month or so now with more young plants succession planted for a second harvest before the weather warms up again. Enjoy yours too! :)

  3. Gustosoon 17 Dec 2013 at 10:03 am

    A lovely summary of peas.

  4. Bevon 07 Jan 2014 at 6:35 am

    I have been growing peas inside for the winter. Just like growing micro greens. Awesome in salads and smoothies. Thank you for the great tutorials.

  5. […] Veggies: Want to grow climbing veggies like peas, beans, tomatoes or cucumber? Easy – add a tepee (get my free instructions on making yours […]

  6. margareton 30 May 2014 at 12:11 am

    I love growing peas in my garden. My plants are only about 2ft high. The leaves are getring a lighter shade of green along the veins. Is that normal or are my plants in need of a remedy?

  7. Anne Gibsonon 31 May 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Margaret, it sounds like your pea plants may be nutrient deficient, possibly in sulphur but it could be something else. If the older leaves are still green, but the younger newer ones are paler along the veins, this could be the case. A liquid feed of seaweed, a side dressing of compost and some ‘worm juice’ or compost tea can help boost nutrients in your soil, assuming the pH and moisture levels are normal. Hope this helps. :)

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