Peas

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Botanical name: Pisum sativum

Plant type: Vegetable

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Sun exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun

Soil type: Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral


Peas are a cool-season crop, now coming in three separate varieties to suit your garden and cooking needs. They are: Pisum savitum, which includes both garden peas (sweet pea, inedible pod) and snow peas (edible flat pod with small peas inside) and Pisum macrocarpon, snap peas (edible pod with full-size peas). They are easy to grow, but with a very limited growing season. Furthermore, they do not stay fresh long after harvest, so enjoy them while you can!

Planting

  • To get the best head start, turn over your pea planting beds in the fall, add manure to the soil, and mulch well.
  • As with other legumes, pea roots will fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants.
  • Peas will appreciate a good sprinkling of wood ashes to the soil before planting.
  • Sow seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F.
  • Plant 1 inch deep (deeper if soil is dry) and 2 inches apart.
  • Get them in the ground while the soil is still cool but do not have them sit too long in wet soil. It's a delicate balance of proper timing and weather conditions. For soil that stays wet longer, invest in raised beds.
  • A blanket of snow won't hurt emerging pea plants, but several days with temperatures in the teens could. Be prepared to plant again.
  • Peas are best grown in temperatures below 70 degrees F.

Care

  • Make sure that you have well-drained, humus-rich soil.
  • Poke in any seeds that wash out. (A chopstick is an ideal tool for this.)
  • Be sure, too, that you don't fertilize the soil too much. Peas are especially sensitive to too much nitrogen, but they may like a little bonemeal, for the phosphorus content.
  • Though adding compost or manure to the soil won't hurt, peas don't need heavy doses of fertilizer. They like phosphorus and potassium.
  • Water sparsely unless the plants are wilting. Do not let plants dry out, or no pods will be produced.
  • For tall and vine varieties, establish poles or a trellis at time of planting.
  • Do not hoe around plants to avoid disturbing fragile roots.
  • It's best to rotate pea crops every year or two to avoid a buildup of soil-borne diseases.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Keep your peas well picked to encourage more pods to develop.
  • Pick peas in the morning after the dew has dried. They are crispiest then.
  • Always use two hands when you pick peas. Secure the vine with one hand and pull the peas off with your other hand.
  • Peas can be frozen or kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Place in paper bags, then wrap in plastic.
  • If you missed your peas' peak period, you can still pick, dry, and shell them for use in winter soups.

Recommended Varieties

  • ‘Snowbird’ (snow pea), resistant to fusarium wilt
  • ‘Sugar Ann’ (snap pea), early variety, short vine
  • ‘Green Arrow’ (garden pea), mid-season variety, high yields, resistant to fusarium wilt

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

If a girl finds nine peas in a pod, the next bachelor she meets will become her husband.

Comments

My pea plants are vigorous

By Clara Sharp

My pea plants are vigorous and productive but today I discovered many of them severed about 2 - 3 inches above the ground. Would this be the work of mice? We have many of them about this year. Would mesh wire stop them? What size mesh and how deeply does it need to be buried? What else could the problem be? We live in the south Yukon Territory.

Hi, Clara: As you surmise,

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Clara: As you surmise, this could be any number of things, from worms to mice/rats/squirrels to deer. Assuming that you have looked for tracks from the bigger critters and found none, you might also consider other suspects: birds, such as sparrows and finches. If it's possible in your garden, identify some still good plants where you can carefully smooth the soil. Sprinkle a dusting of powder or flour and just see if any tracks show up, just to check. At the same time, set yourself up a little scarecrow and be prepared to use some hardware mesh or perhaps bird netting, as the case may be. If necessary, you need to bury your mesh or old screening at least 6 inches deep, but hopefully some anti-air-craftiness will prove simpler, cheaper, and just as effective.

I just removed all my old

By mike Benson

I just removed all my old purple hull plants, tilled area and replanted. Plants have already started growing after just two days. This in 3rd week of July in S.C. and wondering will they produce or will it be too hot....avg. temp. = 90-100 now around 80 nights.

Hiya! I had some snap peas

By Mamagates

Hiya! I had some snap peas that I harvested from my garden a while ago (a week or two?)in the fridge. Just took them out for a snack and some of them are sprouting! Can I plant these peas and expect to get...peas? It is a little late in the season...I live on Long Island, NY but I would love to try it if it can work!

We love peas off the vine!

By Almanac Staff

We love peas off the vine! They are so sweet we can barely get them in the house. Perhaps garden peas are the most different than supermarket peas?
First, you may have noticed that peas taste wonderfully sweet off the vine but turn to starch very quickly. You want to eat peas quite quickly. Once peas are shelled they rapidly lose their sweet flavor, and it's best to shell then pop them directly into the pan! Another option is to freeze them right away.
You would not plant this sprouted pea right in the ground. However, you can harvest peas for replanting. The trick is to grow them on the vine for a few weeks longer than you would if you were going to eat the peas. Let them dry out. When the pods are brown, remove the seeds and place in a dry, cool place until completely dry and no moistness is left. Put in a bag and save to replant in the spring!

Can snap peas be planted in

By Judi C

Can snap peas be planted in August on Long Island, NY for a fall crop or can they only be successful if planted as an early spring crop.? Thanks!

Peas are cool-season crops.

By Almanac Staff

Peas are cool-season crops. You can try planting in the fall and they'll grow when temperatures are between 60 F to 75 F. It's just that spring crops usually have a greater yield; sometimes the fall temps get surprising warm!

Can I soak my peas for a few

By William Lansberry

Can I soak my peas for a few days to speed up germination?

Hi, William: Overnight is

By Almanac Staff

Hi, William: Overnight is fine, but a few days is really not necessary at this time of year ... get 'em in the ground, and they'll grow great!

how long does it take for

By sipho

how long does it take for green peas to grow

The days for green peas to

By Almanac Staff

The days for green peas to grow depends on the variety and the 'days to maturity' will listed on your seed packets or any online seller. However, soil temperature will also greatly influence your timing. If the is 40 degrees F., pea seeds may take more than a month to sprout, while at 60 degrees F. or above, they take about a week. 

We have chosen to plant

By thekishfam

We have chosen to plant heirloom 'Early Frosty' peas in our first year garden. So far they have all sprouted and look good (fingers crossed). I will be adding a hanging string trellis by next week. We live in the 5b MI zone area. What category do they fall under, 'Sweet'/'Snow'/'Snap'? Thanks in advance.

This is a shell pea—sweet and

By Almanac Staff

This is a shell pea—sweet and great for freezing, too. Make sure your trellis supports a vine that can grow up to 3 feet. Harvest just before pods are completely filled. Not the easiest variety to pick, but one of the easiest to shell.

where do you plant peas

By Burnerbut

where do you plant peas

I started my pea and green

By Katie Indiana

I started my pea and green bean plants inside about mid March can I plant them outside yet? I live in southern Indana. Thanks

Peas will tolerate chilly

By Almanac Staff

Peas will tolerate chilly nights but the beans need a bit warmer weather. If you have no more frosts or cold nights transplant the peas and the beans can follow in a week or two.

We planted our peas the end

By Chere Webster

We planted our peas the end of Feb. and last night started to harvest them. We want to know if they will produce more peas or are they done and we need to replant more seeds?

They may produce a few more

By Almanac Staff

They may produce a few more peas. Pod set always proceeds from the bottom of the plant to the top. When only pods at the stems tips remain there will be no more peas. It's always a good idea to plant a row of peas every two weeks in the spring to have a longer harvest.

Help! One of my snow pea

By mariepea

Help! One of my snow pea vines has snapped in two places and that vine has a few peas growing on it. My question is what will happen with the snapped vine and what should I do?

By now you probably know if

By Almanac Staff

By now you probably know if the vine grew more new shoots. It depends on where the vine snaps if it is going to survive.

Hi, I bought 7 dried pea

By Eric the Viking

Hi, I bought 7 dried pea straw bales to use as mulch to condition some soil on our property(i live in Australia). over an area approx 4 metres wide x 15 metres long. I laid out the pea straw then covered it in eucalyptus wood mulch. I planned on that being a base for building a row of vegie beds. We got a good dose of rain and all the pea straw has generated fresh green pea sprouts. are these sprouts viable and able to grow and produce peas ? or should i just remove them. Im very surprised to find the hale bales have produced live sprouts.

No probs with the straw off

By shags

No probs with the straw off shoots. A pea is a pea is a pea.

Thank you

By john motgomery

Thank you

black eyes peas hi when can I

By steve3846

black eyes peas
hi when can I start planting.
my black eyes peas.

Your planting time depends on

By Almanac Staff

Your planting time depends on where you live. In places like South Carolina, planting is often in April. Black-eyed peas are a warm-season crop requiring warm soil temperature (at least 60 °F) for the best germination and emergence.

Hi all, Thank you for an

By Peafessor

Hi all, Thank you for an interesting site.
I have planted my peas 6 weeks ago (I live down under) and they have been growing well and are about 4 inches high. However, I notice that many have gone to flower. Is this the end of my plants? Do i need to start again?
Thank you.

no the end isn't near . Peas

By cheeze

no the end isn't near . Peas will grow up to 4 feet high flowering all the way , just keep them watered.

I'm not much of a gardener

By Villainesse

I'm not much of a gardener yet, but without flowers you'll get no fruit, or in this case, yummy peas.

About how much time does it

By McCartney

About how much time does it take for a pea plant to grow?

The days of maturity for a

By Almanac Staff

The days of maturity for a pea plant depend on the variety chosen but it will range from 55 to 70 days from seeding to harvest.

i think peas wil take 60-80

By markdonad

i think peas wil take 60-80 days to mature

how much rainfall(in cm)is

By Advaitva

how much rainfall(in cm)is required for the production of peas?

We have planted bush peas &

By steve scholer

We have planted bush peas & something is eating them. Haven't seen anything around them, what could be eating them? This also happened last year. Thanks for your help.

You need to identify the

By Almanac Staff

You need to identify the pest.  Go out very late at night or very early in the morning with a flash light and look for slugs, a common culprit. if you see slugs, you can put slug pellets and crush eggshells around the base of the plant. If it's not slugs, look carefully at the plant. Are the leaves being eaten? Large holes or small holes?  Describe the damage as different pests chew plants in different ways.

Easy way to find out if you

By LAUREL BARRICK

Easy way to find out if you have slugs and get rid of them is to bury a pie pan in the ground so that the rim is level with the ground and fill it with stale beer. The little alcoholics will crawl in and drown themselves for you. You can also kill them by sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth on the ground around the base of the plant or using a dust applicator to apply it to foliage. Works on aphids,thripes,ants and many others. Reapply after rain or watering. Use only the "food grade" DE. Cheapest rates are the farm stores. Totally non toxic. Many people eat it as a nutritional supplement. As long as the package says "food grade",you have the right one.

Hi, I let some of my beans

By self sufficient lds mamma

Hi, I let some of my beans and peas stay on the vine longer for harvesting next year. when I picked the pods off the plants(or vines) I I took the beans and peas out of the pods! I did not know I was suppose to leave the pod on till they dried! did I ruin my seeds or will they be fine for next year? thanks

We're not sure if the seeds

By Almanac Staff

We're not sure if the seeds will be viable. You should do a germination test and see how it goes.
As you've discovered, the pods should ripen on the plants until they’re dry and starting to turn brown, with the seeds rattling inside. This may be as long as a month after you would normally harvest the peas or beans to eat. You can even leave the seeds in the pods until planting time.

I started my peas with

By Faery

I started my peas with everything else this year the first week of May. They were going just fine and then overnight they all seemed to turn brown and dry up everything else is still green and growning; it happened last year too. What happened and how do I stop it??

It sounds as if you have a

By Almanac Staff

It sounds as if you have a fungus disease, powdery mildew. If the plants are too infected, you'll need to discard them. Don't plant peas in the same place next year. Next spring, plant peas early (in March even if there's snow as long as it's not soggy), Watch carefully for mildew (whitish color) and spray a mix of 9 parts water to 1 part powered milk to avoid this problem. Also,be sure to water peas early in the day and water at the soil line not overhead to avoiding wet leaves. Also, buy a  disease-resistant variety such as Sugar Ann.

I asked my husband for some

By barb372

I asked my husband for some wood for my pea vines to crawl up. Im in ma I believe zone 4/5. I was hoping that it was not too late to plant. Should I just wait until the spring?

In your zone, the traditional

By Almanac Staff

In your zone, the traditional time to plant peas is St. Patrick's Day (even if there's snow)!  It's a springtime veggie. Wait until next year for best success. They prefer a cool, long spring.

I planted my peas at the end

By thehunter101

I planted my peas at the end of june and they seem to be growing just fine. and I was just wondering if something is wrong. Utah

Sounds good! Not clear what

By Almanac Staff

Sounds good! Not clear what your question is.

I have waited way too long to

By bert jaspering

I have waited way too long to pick my peas. Are they still all right? Some are a little wrinkly but they taste all right

Sure, you can still pick 'em

By Almanac Staff

Sure, you can still pick 'em and eat 'em, but they may not taste as good. Up to you! The earlier you pick, the more production you'll get.

Peas planted and grow next to

By Wayne TR11

Peas planted and grow next to a four foot fence. They grow another 2 feet beyond the top of the fence and of course fall over. What can I do to prevent this? Not sure of the variety of peas, I keep last years stock for seed. Langley, BC

Some pea varieties get tall

By Almanac Staff

Some pea varieties get tall -- we'd go with a 5- or 6-foot trellis next year. Some readers use electrical metal conduit with netting.For now, could you add some stakes or trellis material atop the fence?

After picking my garden peas,

By jetnurse

After picking my garden peas, will more continue to grow on the vines or should I plant new seeds?

Yes, Pick your peas often

By Almanac Staff

Yes, Pick your peas often (every other day) and they'll produce more!

They will keep producing! You

By Homestead Dreamer

They will keep producing! You want to harvest regularly to encourage more growth.

My father is an experienced

By Tammy Enloe

My father is an experienced gardener in Texas zone 9. He has a good crop of cream peas that are blooming making pods but the peas are shriveling up. Would like to know what could be making this happen?

The usual reasons for pods

By Almanac Staff

The usual reasons for pods and seeds appearing shriveled are Stink Bugs and Pea Leafminers – These insects,like the aphids, suck the juices out of the developing pods. However, you should properly identify before treating; some stink bug species and their
close relatives are beneficial insects; call the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at 854-9600 for more information.

I grew my peas and I don't

By Phillip mason

I grew my peas and I don't know how to store them. My refrigerator broke and I do not know what to do. I am saving them for a family reunion. Help, please.

If you already picked the

By Almanac Staff

If you already picked the peas you need to store or preserve them. Fresh peas don't keep long at room temperature. Here are your option. Find a friend who has room in her/his freezer. Borrow a dehydrator and dry the peas or can the peas. Good luck!

My peas are growing okay,

By Carol Bohmrich

My peas are growing okay, although they are yellowing on the new growth. Am I giving them too much water? Are the sun's UV rays to much for them? Do they need to be fertilized. I live in Colorado, where the UV index is high, should I shade my peas? Help, I'm a novice gardener trying to make a garden work in a high altitude, very dry climate. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

If anyone has an answer for

By Melanie Chaffin

If anyone has an answer for this I am also having the same issue. Live in Wyoming so I have the high altitude, UV index, and dry conditions. I have been following a strict watering schedule for best results from my garden and my peas have shade first thing in the morning but full sun the remainder of the day. HELP

Have you tried a light

By Homestead Dreamer

Have you tried a light fertilizer yet? yellowing can mean a possible soil deficiency. Mine were looking a bit peckish so I put some seaweed fertilizer on em and now they are going gangbusters!

I have peas planted and they

By Susan Brox

I have peas planted and they aren't blooming, what could the problem be? They have been planted for at least 2 months. They are very tall plants lots of leaves but no blooms.

Phosphorous will encourage

By Almanac Staff

Phosphorous will encourage blooms. Use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous or sprinkle bone meal around your plants.

Frosty peas

By Anonymous

Have 2" tall pea plants in pots inside where temp is in low 70's with window and artificial light. live in southeast texas where days are in mid 80's right now. Would it be ridiculous to put plants in refridgerator at night?

root depth

By Anonymous

Can I grow peas in a tub? As my ground is very waterlogged. I have a south facing, sunny garden but the corner I have for the peas is also low lying and swampy and I don't know how deep the roots need to go. Thank you

re: root depth

By Anonymous

I have grown peas with much success in containers, including an 8 inch deep hanging basket and 12 inch pot. Choose smaller varieties, such as Oregon Sugar Pod as the vines only grow to about 3 feet.

What do I do after fruiting period ends?

By Anonymous

I have planted snow peas and they are coming to the end of the fruitng period. What do I do with them now? Should I cut them back to soil level? If I do, will they grown back again? Any advice would be appreciated as they are now just taking nutrients from the soil and stunting growth of the other plants near by. Thank you

Peas

By Anonymous

If you Inoculate your Pea's they will actually supply Nitrogen for your Warm Season Crops. I would prepare the area to be planted. Then Soak Pea Seeds over-night. The next Day Inoculate Pea Seeds and Plant as Packet instructions. When temperatures are at steady 70°-75° Pea will not produce anymore. Now, I usually Plant Corn right into the area as Corn is a heavy Nitrogen feeder. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/Assets/Information/InoculantsTechSheet.pdf

Pea care after harvest

By Almanac Staff

Snow peas are annuals, so they will not grow back again next year; you'll need to sow more seeds next year for a new crop.

When you are through with this year's harvest, you can cut the pea plants back down to the ground and then compost the tops. Because the peas are legumes, they have nitrogen-fixing bacteria within their roots. Once a plant dies and decays, the nitrogen in the roots will return to the soil, allowing it to become available to other plants.

Too Many Pea Seeds

By Anonymous

This year I planted both Snow and Sugar Snap varieties of peas. I let the end of summer pods dry on the vine for seed, but when i shelled them I found I had WAY more seed than I can use next year or even the next few years. Can snow and snap pea seed be used as dried peas for cooking? Or are they poor quality as dried peas?

drying peas

By Almanac Staff

For best quality, use shelling peas to dry for use in cooking; there are even varieties of shelling peas that do especially well for this purpose.

The texture and taste of the snow and sugar snaps will likely suffer when dried, but, as an experiment, you can certainly dry and cook up a small batch to see how they turn out. Otherwise, perhaps you can donate your extra peas to friends or a garden club for planting next year.

Sowing seeds in fall

By Anonymous

I am trying to plan my first garden for planting in the fall. Is it possible to plant these seeds in August/September?? Any other suggestions for other crops with planting August/September planting times would be much appreciated =)I'm in zone 7

fall crops

By Almanac Staff

Some gardeners are successful in planting a fall crop of peas, although it will depend on several factors. Peas like it cool, and planting in August/September usually means that they'll be starting out in warm weather. Select varieties that mature quickly and time your planting so that the plant will flower before a frost hits. You might provide row covers or other shading in warmer weather. As for other fall crops, you might be able to plant broccoli, kale, lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, beets, or carrots. For other ideas for your area, you might ask a local nursery or your county's cooperative extension.

Shelling Peas

By Janlinae

I am novice gardener. I harvested 50 or 60 pea pods from my garden. I don't know how to shell them. Any help appreciated.

Happy to help! First, rinse

By Almanac Staff

Happy to help! First, rinse the vegetable. To shell, pinch off the stem. Then, pull the string down the length of the pod to open it. Push out the peas with your thumb. Rinse off your peas!
We like to steam for 2 to 3 minutes (don't overcook).

Harvesting peas for planting

By Anonymous

What do I need to do to the peas, if I want to plant my harvest back in the ground as soon as possible?
Do they need to be dried, for how long?
Or can I just plant them again right away.

saving pea seeds

By Almanac Staff

Peas are a great choice for seed saving. Just let the pods ripen on the plant until the pods turn brown and start to dry up. This often takes about 1 month after you'd normally harvest. Spread out the pods indoors and dry for 2 weeks before shelling. Or, you can dry the pods and plant whole in the ground when it comes planting time. In the meantime, store seeds in a tightly-closed glass container in a cool, dry place such as the fridge.

Picking Peas

By Anonymous

A pair of barber scissors makes pea harvest easier on you and the pea vines. Just snip the pea away from the vine just above the pod. No tugging or crushing future peas.

Sugar Ann & Daddy's

By bigtrucks

Hi! I have both Ann & Daddy Peas and I live in Marion County Fl. Can I start planting them near the end of the Sept. as October is when we start with cooler weather?
Regards
BT

pea planting

By Almanac Staff

For all who wish to start planting peas, please see our Best Dates to Plant chart which is customized to your city: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates

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