Peas are a rewarding vegetable to grow. This sweet and nutritious snack will make a great addition to any early spring or fall garden.
In this post, I’ll go over how to plant peas by either starting indoors or direct sowing. I’ll also discuss when and how to harvest mature pea pods.
Keep reading for more!
Types of Peas
Before we talk about how to plant peas, it’s important to know which type of pea you wish to grow.
There are three main types of peas: English, Snow, and Sugar Snap. Within those three types are many different varieties. Some varieties grow bushy, while many have trailing vines that require support.
Let’s break down these three types.
English peas are the most popular type of pea. You might also see them referred to as shelling peas.
You can’t consume the shell of English peas, but the peas within are plentiful and fast-maturing.
Unlike English peas, snow peas have a flat shell that is edible. They are often slow to mature, but they are highly productive.
Snow peas make a great addition to a salad.
Try the double-podded variety ‘Oregon Sugar Pod‘.
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas combine different characteristics of English and snow peas. Sugar snap peas have edible shells, but the peas within are large and round, as well.
Sugar snap peas go great in stir fry or eaten raw.
Try ‘Super Sugar Snap‘ for a productive yield of peas this year.
When to Plant Peas
Although there are many types of peas, they all have similar growing requirements. Peas prefer cooler weather and should be allowed time to mature before the hot summer months.
Wait until the soil has warmed to around 40 degrees to plant peas.
If the soil is slightly workable, you should be safe for starting pea seeds. This is often four to six weeks before your last anticipated frost.
You can also plant peas for a fall crop. Start your seed six to eight weeks before your zone’s first average frost.
How to Plant Peas Indoors
Peas are prone to experience transplant shock, so starting pea seeds indoors can be tricky. You should direct sow peas when possible.
But planting peas indoors can be done if you prefer to get a head start on your garden!
What You’ll Need
If you don’t already have a seed starting setup, you’ll need a few supplies to get started.
Check out these seed starting products before we go over how to start peas.
To help with transplant shock, you can also try using biodegradable pots. They aren’t required. But, the pots can be planted directly into the garden and will slowly break down into the soil.
Starting Pea Seeds
Fill biodegradable pots up with your favorite seed starting mix. The mix should be flush with the top of the pot.
To remove air pockets, lightly water the mix. Avoid overwatering biodegradable pots to prevent premature breakdown. The soil should be kept consistently moist but not soggy.
Next, you’ll need to make an indention to place your seed into. Pea seeds should be planted at a depth of 3/4″ to one inch.
Place the seed into the hole and lightly cover it with soil.
As you plant your seeds, remember to label the pots with which variety you planted.
Place the pots on a heat germination mat under a full-spectrum grow light. To help with watering, you can place a bottom tray on the heat mat under the pots.
Look for pea seeds to germinate in seven to 14 days.
Tips for Transplanting
Once your pea seedlings have reached a few inches in height, you can begin to transplant them to the garden. Make sure to gradually harden off the seedlings to get them used to outdoor conditions.
Plant the seedlings – pot and all – in the soil. This will prevent the pea seedling’s roots from being disturbed.
How to Plant Peas Outdoors
Learning how to start peas outdoors will help keep your pea seedlings and their roots happy.
Choosing the Best Location
Choose a sunny spot to plant your peas.
Peas don’t take well to soggy soil, so avoid any low-lying areas.
The soil should also drain well, so you should make plans to amend the soil if you have heavy clay. Adding in composted organic matter is a great way to improve your soil texture.
Many pea varieties have climbing vines that need a trellis for support. Install a trellis in your garden area before sowing pea seeds. You can also use stakes and attach trellis netting to create your own support.
Upright, bushy varieties don’t tend to need any support.
Sowing the Seeds
Underneath your trellis, sow pea seeds every two to three inches at a depth of one inch. If you’re planting multiple rows, space them 18 to 48 inches apart.
To avoid rot, pea seeds should be planted when the soil is dry. Seedlings shouldn’t need additional water until they sprout.
Caring for Peas
Since peas grow during cool weather, you may not see the need to water them frequently. This is normal.
When watering peas, you should thoroughly water them about once per week or every two weeks. Any signs of wilting should prompt watering.
This will allow the pea plant to be sufficiently hydrated until the soil begins to dry out.
After starting pea seeds, you aren’t required to apply fertilizer. If you have compost worked into your soil, your peas should be getting more than enough nutrition.
If you think your peas still need a boost, try a low nitrogen fertilizer.
How to Harvest Peas
After starting pea seeds, harvest time is just around the corner. Within 60 days, most pea plants are producing mature pea pods.
There are some differences in how you harvest the different types of peas.
Let’s break it down:
- English peas should be harvested when the shell is completely rounded out, indicating mature peas. The pod shouldn’t be waxy at this point.
- Snow peas indicate maturity by their size. Pick the pods before they grow over two inches. The pods should also still be tender.
- Sugar snap peas should be harvested just as the peas are beginning to round out. Sugar snap peas that are allowed to fully round out will become too tough in texture. Mature sugar snap peas are usually larger than three inches.
To remove peas from their vine, cut them off with a sharp knife. You can also snap peas off with your hand by twisting them from the vine.
To store peas, place them into a sealed Ziplock bag. They will normally keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Wrapping Up How to Plant Peas
Learn how to plant peas, and you’ll be adding a healthy snack to your garden. You’ll also be giving your cool-season garden some vertical interest with these beautiful vining plants.
Do you want to learn more about improving your cool-season garden? Visit the Seed Starting page on our website for all the tips on growing your favorite vegetables and flowers!