I love fresh peas and these were a staple for my children’s garden raiding for years. It’s tough to be mad when your kids want to eat vegetables and harvest most of them for snacks.
When to Plant
Sow as early as you can work the soil; later plantings will not bear as heavily as the cold weather ones. All you require is a soil temperature of 10C and you’re off and running. In my zone 5 garden, this is early to mid-April in a decent year.
Fall crops are sown in the first week of August.
Where to Plant
Full sun. Peas benefit from a well drained soil that is high in organic matter.
How to Plant
Sow seed 2-3 cm deep (up or down a bit doesn’t hurt) and cover. Later summer plantings for harvest in late fall can be sown even deeper at the 3-4 cm depth to get steady moisture levels and out of the direct heat of the sun.
Rows should be 1 to 1.5m apart to allow for adequate air circulation.
Care & Maintenance
While you can sow the seed and let the vines ramble over the ground, the far better way is to drive stakes into the ground and string some form of support between the stakes. A roll of plastic snow fence is ideal or old diamond-wire home fencing also works well. The top has to be supported with horizontal supports or you’ll find the fencing leaning over with the weight of the vines. Growing peas up a trellis or fence means harvesting is easier, air circulates around them and this keeps them much more disease free.
You can also use an old-fashioned pea fence -constructed out of old Christmas tree boughs or woody cuttings or both.
If you do overfeed peas, you’ll find you’ve produced a lot of tender shoots, fewer flowers and a ton of insects thanking you for the fine tender lunch you’ve provided. Go easy and/or use compost. Even commercial growers feed this vegetable lightly as it produces nitrogen on root nodules.
Peas are one crop that is shallow rooted so a steady supply of water applied in drip irrigation will pay off with large harvests of plump pods. Overhead irrigation during harvesting time may increase problems like powdery mildew on crowded vines.
Also because of the shallow root system, you have to be very careful of hoeing next to the rows; you’ll have a tendency to chop off the feeder roots (never a good idea) 🙂
How much to plant? Well, 115 gms of seed will sow about 9m of row and this will produce approximately 120 plants. Each plant should give you several dozen pods. Pick regularly as soon as they start to mature and the harvest will be extended. If you only pick once and then leave the vines alone, the production will slow down and stop. Regular picking is the key to high yields.
Growing instructions are the same for edible podded peas as they are for shelling or dried peas.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm