Planting, Growing, Harvesting, and Storing Peas
Peas are a popular and versatile vegetable enjoyed by gardeners and cooks alike. They are a nutritious, protein-rich legume, making them an excellent addition to any garden. In this article, we will delve into the world of peas, providing a comprehensive guide on planting, growing, harvesting, and storing peas.
Types of Peas
There are three main types of peas: garden peas, snow peas, and snap peas. Each type has unique characteristics and uses in the kitchen.
- Garden peas (Pisum sativum) – Also known as English peas, these are classic peas with a sweet taste and tender texture. The pods are typically discarded, with only the inner peas consumed.
- Snow peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon) – Snow peas are flat, tender pods with small, undeveloped peas inside. The pod and the peas can be eaten, making them a popular addition to stir-fries and salads.
- Snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon ‘Sugar Snap’) – Snap peas are a cross between garden and snow peas, featuring plump, edible pods with fully developed peas inside. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are a favourite for snacking and salads.
|Days to Grow||60-70 days|
|Square Foot Garden Spacing (Special pea layout)||8 plants/sq. ft.|
|When to Plant||1-2 weeks before last frost date|
|Yield||1-2 cups per|
|Hours of Light Needed||6-8 hours daily|
|Soil Conditions||pH 6.0-7.0, well-drained|
|Days to Maturity||60-70 days|
Peas thrive in cooler temperatures and should be planted early in the spring or late in the fall. Follow these steps to plant your peas:
- Choose a location – Select a site with well-draining soil and full sun or light shade. Peas prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
- Prepare the soil – Amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and drainage. Ensure the soil is loose and free of large clumps.
- Sow seeds – Plant pea seeds 1-2 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart in rows 18-24 inches apart. For taller varieties, provide a trellis or support structure for the peas to climb.
- Water and fertilize – Keep the soil consistently moist during germination and early growth. Fertilize with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer to encourage strong root development.
Follow these tips for a successful pea crop:
- Mulch – Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch around the pea plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
- Support – Provide support structures, such as trellises, for climbing taller pea varieties.
- Water – Water peas regularly, providing 1-1.5 inches of water per week. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
- Pest control – Keep an eye out for common pea pests such as aphids, thrips, and pea weevils. To manage infestations, organic pest control methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap.
- Disease prevention – Practice crop rotation and avoid planting peas in the same location for at least three years to reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases.
To ensure the best quality and flavour, follow these guidelines for harvesting your peas:
- Garden peas – Harvest garden peas when the pods are plump and bright green. The peas should be visible through the pod but not overly large or hard. Pick pods from the bottom of the plant upwards as they mature from the bottom up.
- Snow peas – Harvest snow peas when the pods are young, flat, and tender but before the peas inside begin to swell. Regular harvesting encourages continuous production.
- Snap peas – Harvest snap peas when the pods are plump and crisp, but before the peas inside become too large or tough. Like snow peas, frequent harvesting will promote further production.
Harvest peas in the cool morning hours to preserve their sweetness and flavour. Use a gentle twisting motion to remove the pods from the plant, being careful not to damage the delicate vines.
Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the quality and taste of freshly harvested peas. Follow these steps for the best results:
- Garden peas – Shell garden peas immediately after harvesting, as their sugar content begins to convert to starch quickly. Blanched peas can be frozen for up to one year, while fresh peas can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days in a perforated plastic bag.
- Snow and snap peas – Store snow and snap peas in the refrigerator, unwashed and in a perforated plastic bag, for up to one week. For more extended storage, blanch and freeze them for up to one year.
- Drying – Peas can also be dried for long-term storage. Shell garden peas and spread them out on a screen or tray in a well-ventilated, dark location. Once thoroughly dried, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Peas are a delightful and nutritious addition to any garden, offering a versatile and delicious harvest. By following this comprehensive guide on planting, growing, harvesting, and storing peas, you can enjoy a successful and bountiful pea crop. So embrace the joys of gardening and savour the sweet, tender flavours of your homegrown peas.
Seeds and planting
Links and Resources
(These are some of what I use)
mybackyard.ca Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success
myBackyard.ca Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)
Individual seed and plant information is available in the "Gardening Shortcut Links" above under "North Hardy Plants to grow". I have successfully grown all of these, and most I grow year to year.
myBackyard is for recreational purposes only. Plants, mushrooms and berries cannot be 100% identified through this website alone. It is up to the reader to properly identify plants, fungi and trees. Some wild plants, berries and mushrooms are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. Even those listed as edible may cause adverse reactions in individuals.
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