Choosing to grow peas in your vegetable garden is a good choice. Peas are packed with power for both you and your garden! Growing peas helps rejuvenate your soil by fixing nitrogen back into soils where nitrogen is depleted.
It is good practice to grow peas or beans in a soil after a root crop such as beetroot or carrots that deplete soil resources. This helps replace valuable nutrients that the root crop has used up.
By adding peas to your diet, you will benefit from their characteristics:
- Peas are low in fat.
- They are high in anti-oxidants that help prevent aging and boost the immune system
- Peas have anti-inflamatory properties and are high in vitamins C, E and K and manganese
- They also help reduce bad cholesterol
- Peas are high in protein
There are a number of different pea varieties to choose from. Some have inedible pods such as sweet peas. Snow peas have edible flat pods but with small seeds inside. Snap peas also have edible pods, but with large seeds (peas) inside.
Let’s get into the fun part of how to grow perfect peas!
When To Plant Peas
Peas prefer cooler weather, thriving in temperatures of 13 -18C (55-64F). Thus, in South Africa, where I live, it means starting planting in July and August. For the rest of the world, planting should happen about two weeks before your last frost.
Pea plants do not do well with frost, which easily kills the plants and flowers.
Preparing The Soil To Grow Peas
Don’t give your peas nitrogen rich fertilisers. This will cause lots of leafy growth with a lower yield of pea pods. Usually, if you add plenty of organic matter in the form of compost just before sowing, you will not need to add any extra feed to your pea plants. Mixing wood ash into the soil prior to planting has shown good results.
The best soil is a well-drained loamy soil, with a soil pH range of 6.0 -7.5.
Peas can manage with partial shade, but prefer 6 – 8 hours of full sun daily.back to menu ↑
Pea Planting – Plant Directly
Peas are easy to grow. Plant them directly in the soil at a depth 3 times the diameter of the seed. This is usually 2-3cm (1 inch) deep. The seeds seem to do better when planted in soil at temperatures between 8°C and 24°C (46F and 75F).
Space the seeds 5 – 8 cm (2 – 3 inches) apart. For companion planting, you can plant with cucumber, radish, turnips, carrots and beans. Don’t plant your peas with onions, garlic, leeks or chives as they do not get along.
You may want to succession plant every 10 to 14 days for a continuous crop on fresh garden peas.back to menu ↑
Maintenance – Support Your Peas
When you grow peas, you will need to give them some structural support. Twiggy sticks (sticks still with little twigs or branches on them) are ideal for this purpose. Alternatively, you can tie string between posts or use chicken wire mesh. There are various commercial trellis supports available if you require something more visually appealing. You may need to tie you peas up when the plants are young, until they start to produce the tendrils that secure them to the support.
Water deeply once every two weeks. Once pea plants start to flower you can increase the watering to once a week. This will encourage good pod development.
You can limit water loss by laying down a good mulch layer 5 -10cm thick. Good materials for mulch include wood chips, straw, well-rotted manure or pine needles. Do not mulch high directly under the plant High mulch directly on the plant will encourage developing powdery mildew.back to menu ↑
Harvest Peas Regularly
Your first crop should be ready for harvest in 9-11 weeks. It can take up to 3 weeks from when the flowers appear to producing pods. Pick the pods daily to increase pod production. The best time to pick peas is in the morning after the dew has dried.
Start harvesting from the bottom of the plant and work your way up. It is best to use two hands when you pick peas to prevent damaging the plant. Hold the vine with one hand and pull the pod off with the other hand.
Keep your fresh peas in the refrigerator where they will last up to 5 days. Alternatively, you can place them in a paper bag, wrap the bag in plastic wrap and freeze them.