Easy Guide to Growing Perfect Peas

With pretty flowers, crisp green pods, climbing tendrils and delicate leaves, peas are an attractive and delicious addition to any kitchen garden.

Best of all, every part of a pea plant is edible!

Peas are little powerhouses! They may be low in calories, but peas are packed with a surprising number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Peas are also high in micro-nutrients, vitamins, fibre, protein and minerals that provide us with a wide range of health benefits.

Peas are annual vegetables. Best eaten raw and straight off the plant before their natural sugars turn to starch and lose their sweet flavour.

Peas are easy to grow, so are an ideal first crop for children and beginner gardeners.

How to Grow Peas

Choosing Pea Seeds

Peas are an easy seed to sow and save. However, like all edible seeds, I encourage you to choose safe seeds. Organic, heirloom and open-pollinated seeds from reputable seed suppliers, who grow without chemicals, including fungicide sprays to stop rodents and insects eating seeds in storage. Your health is at stake! If you buy hybrid seeds, you won’t have an opportunity to save free seeds for next season.

You can also grow peas as microgreens (just for the quick growing shoots, rather than waiting for the whole plant to grow and produce pea pods). Learn more about sourcing and saving seeds here.

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Edible Peas vs Non-Edible

Just to avoid any confusion, there are three main types of edible peas (Pisum sativum). Shelling or podded peas, snow peas and sugarsnaps. These are all delicious and nutritious.

However, there are also Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) grown for their incredibly beautiful and fragrant flowers. They have lightly hairy leaves and pods, but are mildly to moderately toxic to humans and pets. If you have a dog or cat that is prone to taste testing from your garden, please consider this before growing sweet peas.

When to Plant Peas

  • Peas love cool, frost-free growing conditions. They suit cold climates/cool seasons.
  • Pea flowers are affected by frost and pods won’t form. So check the best time to sow for your local climate.
  • I get best results by sowing in the first moon quarter of the month to take advantage of moisture in the soil and a time of prolific growth for above ground plants like peas.
  • Personally, if the humidity is above 70% and temperatures are still high, I hold off planting seedlings and sow seeds instead. By the time they are ready, I hope the weather will be more favourable.
  • Peas will grow, develop flowers and fruit in about 10-14 weeks depending on the variety. Peas can take up to 3 weeks to mature from flower to pod.

Sugar snap pea flowers on a young climbing variety. Peas need staking or a trellis for support as they grow.

If you want ‘fast food’:

  • Choose snow peas because you don’t have to wait for the pods to fill. A great choice for kids and impatient gardeners!
  • Start with seedlings rather than seeds. You’ll save 3-4 weeks.

Try planting a few pea varieties if you want to stagger your harvest time.

Growing Conditions for Peas

  • Peas are low maintenance, easy plants to grow. After seeds germinate, plants usually only need watering, support and harvesting.
  • Peas like well drained loamy soils, with plenty of organic matter and a soil pH 6.0-7.5.
  • Peas prefer a sunny spot but not extreme heat or too much wind.
  • They like moist soil but not waterlogged feet! In humid conditions, avoid mulch up too close as this can create an environment for powdery mildew to grow.

Companion Planting with Peas

Avoid planting peas in the same container or near garlic, onions, chives and spring onions. These plants tend to compete and stunt plant growth. I’ve tested this out and I’ve had the same result for beans! Peas seem to grow well planted with beans or with low-growing carrots, radish and turnips.

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Sowing and Spacing your Peas

  • Pre-soak seeds overnight in warm water to soften the seed coat. Spraying liquid seaweed on the seeds when planting helps stimulate germination and promote stronger growth.
  • As a general guide, sow seeds directly into moist soil or seed raising mix 2-3cm (1in) deep.

As a guide, I sow 6-8 seeds in a 20cm (8in) pot and a few more in a 30cm (12in) planter.

  • Sow 10cm (4in) apart or in rows about 60cm (24in) apart to help air circulation and prevent disease in a garden bed.

Wait until seeds germinate (sprout) before watering again to prevent rotting. Carefully transplant seedlings when 5cm (2in) high.

  • If you are growing more than one variety, separate them in different containers or garden beds if you want to save seed. This way, their vines don’t intermingle and you can correctly identify them. Always use plant labels!

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Support Structures for Peas

Both climbing and dwarf pea varieties need support. Maximise vertical space by training climbers to grow up corn stalks; a boundary fence; lattice; stakes; a trellis; tepee/tripod; or frame with wires, string or horizontals every 20cm (8 in) or so to support their growth.

Vertical structures like these pea tepees make harvesting and maintenance easier.

Some more ideas to inspire you:

Sugar snap peas climbing my 4 legged bamboo tepee with string tied horizontally & diagonally for maximum support

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An alternative bamboo and string trellis vertical support for peas

Via Garden Therapy

Two old bike tyre rims from a bicycle shop were cleverly upcycled into a pea trellis.

Via Suited to the Seasons

Pipe & chicken wire A-frame pea trellises – if you want to make a similar design remember to avoid plastic made out of PVC (recycle number 3) as this leaches toxic chemicals into your soil. Look for a safe alternative.

Dwarf peas grow better supported by pruned sticks or bamboo canes to help minimise pest and disease problems.

If you have no vertical supports, plant dwarf peas in a hanging basket to grow down for easy access harvesting.

Tips for Growing Peas

  • Peas are light feeders and produce their own nitrogen in the soil, so they are a cheap crop to grow! Avoid over fertilising your soil or the plants will produce leaves but not flowers and pods.
  • Snow peas, sugar snaps and garden peas are all members of the Fabaceae (legume) family. They help to ‘fix’ nitrogen in your soil in a form your plants can easily take up, with the help of bacteria around the roots. These soil bacteria convert nitrogen from the air into plant food. Pretty cool hey?
  • Growing legumes (like peas and beans) helps feed and improve your soil without buying in fertiliser! Saves you money too.
  • Peas have shallow roots so mulch well to avoid weeds and retain soil moisture.
  • Watering: Keep soil moist while flowers and pods are developing. This is critical to their healthy development.
  • Pinch out the shoots at the top of each plant when you see the first pods are ready to pick and add to your salads. This helps stimulate the plant to produce more pods.

Crop Rotation for Peas

To make the most of the free nitrogen in your soil after growing peas, plant leafy greens or a heavy feeding fruiting crop like tomato, capsicum, chilli, eggplant or potato.

There will be much less chance of fungal diseases by rotating crops from different families in the same container or garden bed.

Growing Peas – Pests & Diseases

Watch out for thrips, mites, aphids, cutworms, root knot nematodes and fungal diseases. The organic strategies I use for healthy peas:

  • Plant disease resistant varieties.
  • Practice crop rotation.
  • Space plants adequately.
  • Add compost and organic soil conditioners seasonally (rock minerals and complete organic fertilisers).
  • Apply liquid seaweed as a foliar spray on warm sunny days to strengthen plants and build resistance to disease.

Sowing early in the season may also prevent pests from affecting growth and production.

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How to Harvest Peas

  • Pick your peas just before you want them on your plate! Eat as soon after harvesting for freshness and flavour.

Harvest when the pods are bright green, full and plump depending on the variety.

  • Start picking from the bottom of the plant and work up to the top, holding the plant in one hand and snapping the pea off with the other to avoid breaking the stem. Regular picking produces more peas.
  • Snow peas are great value because you eat the whole pod, seeds and all before the peas mature. They have a longer harvesting period (5-6 weeks) than garden peas (2-3 weeks).
  • Sugar snap pods have thick walls and are picked when the pods are plump and round.

Garden peas are eaten when they are mature by discarding the pod and shelling the peas.

  • Pea shoots (the top 5-7cm) can be picked and used in stir fries or salads when the plant is at full height.
  • After your plants have stopped producing flowers and pods, harvest the leaves for salads and stir fries.
  • Avoid leaving pods on the vine unless you are saving for seed, otherwise your plant will age and stop producing pods.
  • Check vines daily. Over ripe pods become too starchy to eat but you can still dry them and save the seeds instead.
  • After harvesting, leave roots to rot in the ground to release nitrogen in the soil and feed your next crop.

To save money and grow your crop for free next season, allow pods to dry on the plant until they go brown and brittle or cut at the base and hang to dry under cover.

Remove dried peas from the pod and leave on a tray or plate for a few days.

Store in a self-seal bag in a labelled envelope with the variety/date in a cool dark place or an airtight bottle with some dry rice to absorb any moisture.

Cooking and Using Peas in your Kitchen

Enjoy them as sprouts, stir-fries, Asian dishes, soups, pasta or any number of other recipes.

I love the crunchy texture and sweet flavour of peas in our salads

Sprouting: Peas and snow peas can be grown as nutrient rich tasty sprouts, microgreens or added to breads, salad garnishes and soups.

Cooking: Fresh raw peas have maximum nutrients and flavour so if cooking, use minimal water and stir fry or steam quickly until just tender. Boil frozen peas for about 1-2 minutes.

Drying: Allow peas to air dry for a few days then store in a sealed jar in your pantry to use in soups or casseroles. The texture, flavour and nutrient value won’t be the same as fresh or frozen peas although this is an alternative to extending your harvest. Pre-soak peas overnight before cooking.

Freezing: Pick, shell and blanch in boiling water for 1 minute before cooling. Then bag and freeze immediately.

Sugar snap peas can be blanched for 2 minutes, cooled and frozen whole also.

Too many or too few? If you don’t have enough fresh peas for a meal or have an abundant harvest, freeze fresh peas in plastic bags or containers.

If any peas actually make it into your kitchen and aren’t consumed while you are picking, there are plenty of yummy ways to enjoy them.

Peas Please! Delicious Recipes…

Mixed Pea, Mint & Feta Salad

4.7 from 3 reviews Mixed Pea, Mint & Feta Salad A quick to prepare salad with fresh ingredients. Author: Valli Little, Delicious Magazine Sept 2007, p71 Recipe type: Salad, Side Dish Serves: 6 Ingredients

  • 200g podded fresh peas or frozen peas
  • 200g sugar snap peas
  • 200g small snow peas
  • 100g pea shoots*
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 200g marinated Persian feta*, drained
  • * Persian feta is from delis, or use other marinated feta. Pea shoots are available from greengrocers.
  • Dressing:
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed with salt
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs dried mint


  1. For the dressing, combine the crushed garlic, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Stir in the mint and season with black pepper.
  2. In a large pan of boiling salted water, cook fresh peas for 5-6 minutes (3 minutes if frozen), adding the sugar snap and snow peas for the final 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Cool completely.
  3. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the pea shoots, feta, mint and dressing and toss gently to combine.
  4. Enjoy!


  • Quick Sesame Snow Peas
  • Snap Peas with Meyer Lemon & Mint
  • Italian Peas with Garlic

See 3 Tips on Growing Peas and Beans for more practical ways to enjoy a bountiful harvest.

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Pea Plant Growth Stages: how do peas grow and what to do with them.

admin September 9, 2018 3546 Views 0 SaveSavedRemoved 0

Peas are one of the first things I like to plant in early spring. They love to germinate in cool temperatures, and can handle being planted as early as a month before the final frost date for your area.

They don’t like to be transplanted, as the roots are fragile, but you can direct seed them nice and early to get a head start on a crop before the heat of summer slows down the pea’s production.

You can sow peas again in late summer, keeping the seedlings shaded for heat, in order to produce a fall crop. And, if you are interested in eating the tender shoots of new peas, you can easily grow them year-round in a shallow container of soil on your windowsill indoors.

The shoots make a lovely addition to salads or a topping for soups, and add a special touch to any plate they garnish.

Growth stages of peas

  1. Germination – the pea seed takes root and sends out a vertical shoot which begins the process of photosynthesis (using chlorophyll to change sunlight into energy for the plant)
  2. Pollintation – The stem develops leaves and flowers. The flowers have male organs called stamen which contain pollen and female organs called styles contain the seed or ovary. The plant is self pollinating which results in the pea pods forming after the flowers die off.
  3. Fertilization- When the plant is pollinated, fertilization begins by the pollen reaching the ovary/seed which creates a protective covering (the pod) for new seeds (peas) which swell up and grow inside the pod.
  4. Dispersal- normally we pick the seeds (peas) before the plant is mature. If the plant was allowed to mature the peas would dry up and harden and the pod would split dropping the peas on th ground tfor the lifecycle to begin again.

Growing peas

Peas are not very fussy about soil conditions, and do not require any special fertilizing or feeding, although they should not be let to dry out entirely.

They like a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, which is typical of most garden soil. Though they don’t need rich soil, they do appreciate some compost being worked into the bed before planting.

I like to loosen the soil to help the plants take hold. Their roots are quite shallow and don’t spread too far, meaning that you can plant peas easily in containers, raised beds, or shallow places in the garden, spacing the plants quite close together.

Soaking the seeds overnight and then coating them with inoculant, available at garden centers, is recommended when planting early in cool soils.

The rhizobia bacteria in the inoculant helps jump-start the growing process and brings nitrogen to the plant. It is, however, not necessary to either use inoculant or soak the seeds.

Sowing peas

Sowing thickly should help if any of the plants don’t germinate and this also provides the right amount of support for the plants as they grow together.

Weeding becomes difficult with peas as their roots don’t like to be disturbed, so planting close together will also help deter weed growth and keep maintenance to a minimum.

Growing peas in containers

In containers and raised beds, I will plant peas one or two to a hole, about an inch deep and spaced about a 1/2 inch apart, and train them to grow up supports or trellises in order to get maximum yield from minimal space. You can also just broadcast them in the bed and then fill in with a top layer of about an inch of soil, without worrying at all about spacing.

Water the newly planted seeds well and keep them moist. Depending on soil temperatures, and the age of the seeds, it can take anywhere from a week to a month to see sprouts appear above soil.

You can try staggering your planting over several weeks to get a more continuous harvest, or planting several different varieties with different dates to maturity.

Types of Peas

While considered a vegetable, peas are technically fruit! There are several different types of peas, including garden or shelling peas, meant to be shucked from their pods, and ‘mange-tout’ (eat-all) peas, such as snow peas and sugar snap peas, which are eaten as whole pods.

Peas are found in many different varieties of height and growth habit, from dwarf bush peas to tall plants meant to grow on a trellis. There is sure to be a pea variety to fit any space in your garden.

Although they are similar in appearance, sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are not the same as peas (Pisum sativum), and sweet pea plants, which are grown for their flowers, have toxic pods which should not be eaten. For this reason, growing these plants in separate areas of the garden is a good idea.
How long do peas take to grow

Peas, like other annuals, have a life cycle of one year. Many grow quite quickly, sending out new tendrils daily, it seems. Peas are, in general, climbing plants which appreciate supports to hold onto with their curly, strong tendrils.

Once the plant matures, it produces flowers which are quite attractive to bees and other beneficial insects. These flowers then mature into pea pods, which are either picked as snap or snow peas in a flat stage with the seeds inside not yet developed, or picked once the pods and seeds have fully matured, for garden or shelling peas.

If the pods are not regularly picked, the plant will stop producing them, so to get the best yields, pick your peas at least every two days. Any pods left on the plant too long will go past the eating stage and into the seed phase, where the plant begins to dry out and turn brown, pods shrivel, darken and brown, and dry out, and the seeds inside get shrunken and dried, ready to be collected for winter soups or for future plantings.

You can then cut the plants off above ground and use them in your compost pile, or chop and turn them under in the garden bed, where they will decompose quickly and help enrich the soil by releasing all of their remaining nitrogen. The roots left in the soil will also help fix nitrogen for the next crops that get planted there, making peas an excellent choice for crop rotation and maintaining healthy soil.

Harvesting Peas

Peas are best picked in the morning or evening when the pods are crisp, although picking snow or snap peas any time while gardening provides a delicious snack. Pods should be picked where they join the stem, so that the pod tip is intact, rather than breaking the top off the pod. The whole plant is quite fragile, so be careful while picking not to break the stems. Shelling peas must then be removed from the pods before eating.

How to store peas

To store your pea harvest, you have several options. All types of peas can be blanched by immersing in boiling water (for just a few seconds for snow peas, to up to two minutes for large garden peas) and then ice water, before draining them to freeze. In order to freeze them individually rather than in a big lump, spread the blanched peas out on a tray and put in the freezer for several hours until fully frozen. Put the frozen peas in a bag or container in the freezer for long-term storage, labeled with the date. Frozen peas should be eaten within a year.

You can dry shelling peas to use for pea soup in the winter, though it depends on the quantity of peas you’ve grown whether this seems worth it or not. Peas must be fully dried to be properly preserved, so using a dehydrator or oven with the door open on lowest setting will help ensure they are thoroughly dried. Dried peas will last about five years.

You can also bottle peas, although this method of storage is perhaps not recommended for beginners, especially if you have room in your freezer to more easily preserve them. Home-bottled peas should last a year.

Pea Seeds

Pea seeds are easily saved, making this an excellent crop for gardeners concerned with sustainability. Saving seed does more than save money—you can select varieties well-suited to growing in your particular garden, and encourage biodiversity by saving seed from heirloom varieties. There is something extremely satisfying about this process, and for those new to seed saving, peas are one of the easiest seeds to save at home. Make sure you choose open-pollinated seeds to ensure that the seeds stay true to their variety.

If you plan to plant more than one pea variety and would like to save seeds, just make sure you put a little distance between the varieties and you should easily be able to save the seeds from each type.

Once the pods are dry and brittle on the plant, break them off and collect them. Remove the pea seeds from the pods, and if they are still at all moist, continue to dry in a dehydrator or on a sunny windowsill until totally dry (cut one open to check!). You can then put them in an envelope or small bag and label with the variety and date.

Seeds store best in dark, cool and dry environments, so I recommend putting your seed envelopes all together in a large container and adding in some of the desiccant packets that come in shoeboxes or vitamin bottles sometimes.

You can make your own desiccant packets by wrapping up a little powdered milk in some tissue paper and adding that to the seed jar, too. The milk powder will absorb any moisture and help to preserve your seeds for as long as possible. I would not recommend the fridge for seed storage as it’s too moist, but a cool closet or garage shelf would be just fine.

Companion Planting Peas

According to the principles of companion planting, peas are beneficial or friendly towards members of the brassica family (broccoli, kale, etc), and they are mutually helpful for turnip, cauliflower and garlic, with each plant aiding the other. It is also thought that peas grow better when planted near mint.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is an important part of maintaining a healthy and productive garden, because different plants use different amounts of the nutrients that are in the soil. By rotating crops you also avoid spreading some plant-specific diseases. Peas are an important contributor to this cycle because of their nitrogen-fixing ability.

Ideally, peas are planted after a crop of cucumbers, squash or melons, or else leafy greens, spinach or kale. Peas would be best followed by either corn, wheat or oats, or a member of the nightshade family, such as potatoes, eggplant, peppers, or tomatoes.

Cover Crops

You can also sow peas as a cover crop, which is a quickly-grown crop after the main harvest. It is used to prevent soil erosion during the fall, winter and early spring, and to return nutrients into the soil before the next major crop gets planted.

Cover crop peas can be sown in the fall, as the plants don’t need to fully mature before frost in order to secure the soil. Then in the spring you can till under the remaining plant matter ,and it will feed the soil with the nitrogen and other nutrients as you plant your next main crop.

Vertical Gardening

Peas are naturally upward-reaching plants, well-suited to vertical gardening. Even dwarf bush peas appreciate a little support, but the tall climbing pea varieties absolutely require it. Don’t let this intimidate you!

Trellises and vertical structures can be as simple or as fancy as you want them to be. While there are many options for trellises available on the market, you can also do it yourself quite easily. Some people will just put sticks from around the garden upright in amongst the bush peas for supports.

I like to use a simple system with bamboo hoops criss-crossed over each other, with strings hanging down for the peas to catch onto. I have also trained them to climb up chicken wire attached from the side of my shed roof, down to the raised bed at the base.

Peas will really grow up anything you put in their environment, and it’s best to add these supports early in the season, ideally right at planting time. so that you don’t disturb the plant’s delicate roots later.

Pests and Diseases

As far as garden crops go, the pea is relatively problem-free. It can succumb to powdery mildew, root rot, and mosaic virus, but these are mainly avoided by choosing resistant varieties and practicing good garden hygiene by rotating crops regularly.

Being careful not to over-water is also key to deterring rot. You want the soil to be moist but not soaking wet in order for peas to do their best.

Aphids can also be a problem. If spotted, you can spray immediately with either a hard spray of water sufficient to dislodge them, or a soap solution, either insecticidal soap or a homemade soap spray with dish liquid. Several applications may be needed over a few days to completely get rid of the aphids. If the problem persists, remove affected plants so that the aphids don’t spread to any healthy plants, and destroy the infected material.

History of the Pea Plant

Peas are one of the oldest cultivated plants on earth, and have been around since the very beginning of agriculture. They originated as wild plants in the Mediterranean region, and were then collected and cultivated—mentioned as early as 3rd century BC by the Roman writer Theophrastus. Dried, or field peas, were one of the major staple foods during the widespread famines of the Middle Ages. Green “garden” peas, eaten when fresh and far sweeter and more delicious than field peas, were a luxury for the upper classes, introduced from Genoa to the court of Louis XIV of France in 1660. From there, they never quite fell out of fashion again.

Gardening Activities for Kids

Pea plants are fantastic for gardening with children. The large seeds are easy to handle, and carefree in terms of spacing. They can grow in small containers or, if you have the space, can transform a tripod of bamboo stakes and some string into an amazing living teepee shelter for the children to play in at the height of summer.

Pea plants grow quickly and dramatically, with new leaves and tendrils unfurling every time you look, it can seem. They don’t need any weeding or special feeding, just to be watered and frequently picked.

They are beautiful plants, with delicate flowers and delightful curly tendrils. It’s fun to hunt for the feel of the pea pods with your fingers amongst their camouflage of leaves and vines—a great task for kids before supper. What’s more, peas are generally a food that children tolerate, at least the snow and sugar snap pea variety.

They may love them even more if they can grow some themselves and eat them right from the vine.

Nutritional value of peas

Peas have a high amount of dietary fibre, as well as of potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin K, as well as B1, B2 and B6 and a range of other minerals and vitamins. They should be combined with a grain for optimal nutrition.

Peas are thought to help prevent heart disease, regulate blood sugar, boost immunity, fight cancer, and more. In general they are known to be an all-around nutritional powerhouse. While a small percentage of the population is allergic to peas, most of us can benefit from eating more of this healthy food.

Peas Recipe

Many snow and snap pea varieties have a ‘string’ that runs from tip to tip of the pod, which you must peel off before eating, though some are tender enough to eat without removing the string.

Snow and snap peas are delicious eaten raw as a snack, for dipping, and in salads. They can be added to stir-fries and pasta, or sautéed gently with garlic, as a side dish. Because they are so tender, snow and snap peas need very little time to cook and can be added at the last minute to many dishes. A brief steam or sauté is enough.

Garden peas need to be shelled before eating. After picking the ripe pods, remove the peas by running your thumb down the line on the inner side of the pod.

It should open up and allow you to scoop out the peas into a bowl. Pea shells and other remaining bits of the plant can be returned to the garden compost or directly into the soil. After sifting through the shelled peas for any bad ones, prepare your fresh peas by quickly cooking them, either by steaming or quickly sautéing.

Boiling isn’t recommended for fresh peas, as it changes their sugars and thus their delicate taste. In my opinion, peas really don’t need much in the way of seasonings to taste their best, and serving them fresh and simply cooked is the best way to eat them.

Peas are often paired with mint, both because they grow at the same time in the garden, and because they taste so delicious together. The sweetness of the peas is offset perfectly by the coolness of fresh mint.

Grow a peppermint plant in a container somewhere in the garden, just to savor this seasonal delight—just be careful that you don’t plant it in the ground, as mint can soon take over.

Toss gently steamed peas and chopped fresh mint leaves with a little butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper, and enjoy this amazing green side dish.

Pea shoots are also edible, and can be a great thing to grow on the windowsill in the winter months when outdoor gardening isn’t possible. The tender leaves taste lightly pea-like, and look beautiful as a garnish on just about anything, or when added to salad. Fill a shallow tray with about an inch and a half of soil, soak pea seeds and scatter thickly on top of the soil.

Water well and place on a sunny windowsill with a clear bag or container loosely placed over top to maintain some humidity. Mist the seeds to keep them moist but not soaking wet. Snip off as needed once the shoots get to be about 3 inches long, and don’t let them get to be longer than about 6 inches before you use them.

Return the nitrogen-rich soil to the garden or compost pile once you’ve used all the shoots, and start a new batch.

Grow your own peas

Peas deserve a place in every garden, for how easily they grow, how delicious they are, and how beneficial they are to the overall garden ecology by providing essential nitrogen back into the soil for other plants.

They attract beneficial pollinators like bees, and their delicate, intertwining vines can provide beautiful vertical accents within the garden landscape.

Even the smallest garden has room for some peas. And even the winter windowsill has room for some pea shoots.

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Pea Seed, Sugar Snap Pea, Heirloom, Organic, Non Gmo, 20+ Seeds, Perfect Peas

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  • Reliable, consistant, and sweet
  • Perfect for freezing but also delicious when eaten fresh or canned.
  • Easy to Plant and Grow
  • Pods are about 3″ long, 1/2″ across, and bear over a long picking period
  • Better than anything you can buy in the store.

David’s Garden Seeds Pea Green Arrow SL2040 (Green) 100 Non-GMO, Organic, Heirloom Seeds

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  • Harvest in about 70 days
  • Seeds are Non-GMO and hand packed by David’s Garden Seeds in the United States
  • English shelling pea
  • This favorite variety for home gardeners produces loads of 4 to 5 inch pods full of plump, sweet, dark green peas
  • Germination rate about 80% or better

I found the seed mail order company Seeds Now to have a good selection of pea varieties and quick delivery.

I hope you found my article helpful – please leave a comment below if you did..thanks!

Grow and Save Pea Seeds

It is easy to see why this early-season crop is a popular garden plant. Peas require little care beyond a trellis and pest protection, yet they produce prolific amounts of snappy pods throughout the spring and summer.

Time of Planting

Sow peas outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked, but do not sow outdoors when soil temperatures are below 50 degrees F as germination is erratic and poor in cold soil.

Spacing Requirements

Seeds should be planted at a depth of ½–1 inch and between 2–3 inches apart. Space rows of peas at least 18 inches apart.

Time to Germination

7-14 days

Special Considerations

Pea plants require a trellis to support their climbing habit. Panels of thick wire, such as cattle panels, work well for this purpose. Alternatively, you can set up bamboo trellises or build a system of chicken wire or twine for peas to climb. Peas do not tolerate drought, excessive temperatures, or waterlogged soil. Peas should be grown in an open, sheltered position on moisture-retentive, deep, free-draining soil.

Common Pests and Diseases

Pests common to pea plants include pea moths, pea thrips, and mice. Crop covers can help protect the plants from moths at the flower-bud stage.

When and How to Harvest

Peas can be harvested in the snap/green stage, the shelling stage, or the dry stage. Snap peas are ready for harvest when the pods are still tender, before the seeds start to swell. Shelling peas are ready when the pods are tender and the seeds are round and plump. Dry peas are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.


Early peas are make great fresh eating while later peas can be shelled and enjoyed in salads, soups, and stir fries. Snap peas and snow peas are often eaten whole. Dried peas can be cooked like beans and used in soups, stews, and dips. Pea shoots also make a tasty snack.


Blanch and freeze peas if you would like to save your spring flavors for another day; use within a year. Peas can also be left on the vine to dry. Dry peas will store for several years in a cool, dry place.

How to Save Pea Seeds

This crop is a great way to make your first foray into seed saving as peas produce seed the same season as they are planted and are mostly self-pollinating, minimizing the need to be mindful of preventing cross-pollination.

Life Cycle


Recommended Isolation Distance

When saving seeds from peas, separate varieties by 10-20 feet.

Recommended Population Sizes

A single pea plant can produce viable seed. However, to maintain a variety’s diversity over time, save seeds from 5-10 plants.

Assessing Seed Maturity

Pea seeds are ready for harvest when they are hard and their pods dry out and start to turn brown on the vine and shrink against the seeds. This is about four weeks after the eating stage.


If pea pods are not completely dry before the first frost, pull the plants up, root first, and hang them in a cool, dry location until the pods are brown and dry. When the pea pods are completely dry, break them open to release the seeds.

Cleaning and Processing

Pick the brown pods from the vines and remove the seeds. Separate seeds from the chaff. Seeds will require about six weeks of air-drying.

Storage and Viability

Store peas in cool, dark, and dry places and always keep them in an airtight container to keep out moisture and humidity. Under these conditions, pea seeds will live 3-4 years.

Download the PDF

Snow peas, Sugar Snap Peas, Mangetout, And Common-or-garden Peas, A Definitive Guide

“At home on my doorstep a brown paper bag is waiting for me. Inside is a packet labelled ‘English Peas’ and a slip of yellow paper.
‘I thought you might be missing these peas’ it says.
We are.
‘Enjoy,’ it says.
We do.
3,662 miles from London we lovingly mush them into submission as the windows steam up and our kitchen fills with the smell of home.”

-Jenny Lee in The Financial Times, 25 November 2017

What is the difference between snow peas, sugar snap peas, mangetout, and common-or-garden peas? They are all super-quick to cook and add crunch and a bright, fresh green to the look of a dish so it’s worth knowing which is which and what to do with them.

Snow peas and sugar snap peas first come into season in April, and are best in July and August. Both are often referred to as mangetout (or mange tout), but technically mangetout is another name for snow peas. Ordinary peas come into season a little later.

If you grow peas, did you know you can eat the flowers?

Ordinary peas

In the case of common-or-garden peas they’re quick because if you buy good quality frozen petit pois (not massive cannon balls) all you have to do is empty them, frozen, into a saucepan, and cook gently with a little butter, mint and maybe a little sugar until they are heated through – about five minutes usually.

Ordinary ‘wrinkled’ peas have a hard wall to their pod.

Snow peas (aka Mangetout, or Chinese sugar peas): Pisum sativum var. saccharatum

Snow peas on the other hand are the pods of a type of pea which only develops very small peas so you can eat the entire pod whole.

You can eat them raw, throw them into stir fries, or fry quickly – no more than a couple of minutes – in sesame oil, throwing in some lemon juice and zest, some sesame seeds, and salt – sea salt flakes, or the sparkly, electric Oshima Island Ara Shio Dry salt you can get from The Salt House.

snow peas

Sugar snap peas: Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon

Sugar snap peas (see the featured image at the top of this post) are a cross between ordinary peas and snow peas. They have slightly larger peas inside than snow peas, but you can still eat them whole and they are still crunchy and fresh… possibly a little sweeter. You can make a virtue of the larger peas by slicing them in half lengthways to reveal the visually interesting peas. Then throw into a salad.

If you’re a grower, remember it’s all to do with timing with sugar snaps – they grow slowly, so if you don’t pick them regularly you can harvest the maturing peas and eat them as a normal variety.

The don’t keep long, so eat them as soon after you buy them as you can. They need very little cooking.

You can fry them quickly in oil for three or four minutes and then add a little lemon and lemon zest and smoked salt crystals and serve them to pick at with drinks.

You can rinse, put back in the plastic dish you bought them in with a little water and microwave on high (or alternatively steam them) for a couple of minutes. Then refresh briefly in cold water to ensure they keep their bright green colour and add a little butter and mint.

Other recipes using sugar snaps are:

  • snappy-earthy green salad
  • crunchy-mashy olive pervaded salad

“Pea with mint tastes like England in June. The pea’s flavour is as bright and simple as sunshine, which mint over casts with its own damp, gloomy take on summer.”

-Niki Segnit, The Flavour Thesaurus

Pea flowers

You can eat pea flowers which taste of peas, and which will give impact to any salad. If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen garden try growing the beautiful Carouby de Maussane which has beautiful pink and purple flowers which wouldn’t look out of place in a flower garden.

Common-or-garden peas in their pods

Mangetout may refer to the snow pea (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum) or snap pea (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon). Both varieties of peas are eaten whole and do not have inedible fiber in the pod walls. Snow peas have thinner walls than snap peas. Snow peas are usually found in Chinese cooking. Snap peas can be found in salads; however, they may be stir-fried or steamed as well.

Here are the 7 health benefits of mangetout.

1. Mangetout is a nutritionally dense food.

Mangetout is an excellent low-calorie food. One cup contains only 67 calories while containing many vitamins and minerals. This makes mangetout the perfect weight loss food.

2. Mangetout could help you fight infections.

Fresh mangetout contains 128 percent of the vitamin C daily requirements per cup. Vitamin C is a powerful natural water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and eliminates cancer-causing free radicals in the body.

3. Mangetout is great for the hair and skin.

Adequate vitamin C intake does not only improve the immune system but can also create and maintain collagen, a necessary protein found in hair and skin. Also, one cup of mangetout contains 33 percent of recommended vitamin A. Vitamin A has been known to keep the hair moisturized through increased sebum production.

4. Mangetout can help the bones stay strong.

One cup of mangetout contains half of the needed vitamin K. Adequate vitamin K consumption acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.

5. Mangetout may promote enhanced brain health.

Several components of mangetout, such as potassium, folate, and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits. Folate has been known to reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Potassium has been linked to increase blood flow to the brain, and enhance cognition, concentration, and neural activity. One cup of mangetout contains 12 percent of the recommended daily needs of folate.

Also, mangetout contains vitamin B6. A deficiency has shown depression and nausea. Be sure not to consume too much. The vitamin B6 upper limit is set to 100 milligrams for adults over the age of 18, but adults do not need that much unless directed by the doctor. One cup of mangetout has 12 percent (0.2 milligrams) of the daily need for vitamin B6.

6. Mangetout can help prevent neural tube defects.

Folate has shown to help in neural tube formation and red blood cell formation in prenatal babies. A deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women can lead to the birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects, or spina bifida, in newborns.

7. Mangetout can help improve the heart’s health.

Mangetout is rich in potassium with 384 mg per cup. The recommended 4,700 mg of potassium is not obtained by many individuals in the United States, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, despite the benefits of increased potassium intake. One study suggested that individuals who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium approximately 1,000 mg per day.

Sautéed Snow Peas  (mangetout, pea pods, sugar snap peas)

Total time: 10 minutes
Another of those fleeting spring vegetables. Some say they are best eaten while standing in the garden and pulling them off the vine. This is second best.


  • snow peas – enough, 150gr, 5.3oz
  • 1 tsp butter, 5gr, .18oz
  • 1 tsp olive oil, 4.5gr, .16oz
  • Salt and pepper


  • Clean pea pods – snip off the stem end…
  • Heat butter and oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • Add pea pods and sauté 5 – 10 minutes, depending on size, stirring frequently.
  • Taste, when they are done to your liking, remove, add salt, pepper and serve.

Nutrition Information
Recipe serves 2
Entire Recipe / per serving
Calories: 140 / 70
Total Carbohydrates: 12 / 6
Dietary Fiber: 4 / 2
Total Fat: 8 / 4
Saturated Fat: 3 / 1.5
Cholesterol: 11 / 5.5
Protein: 4 / 2
Calcium: 65 / 32.5
Sodium: 35 / 17.5

General Technical Details and Disclaimer:

Measurements are actual measurements used for calculation. If there are no values the nutritional numbers were simply too small.

I try to be accurate, but I do not guarantee it. I use ‘grams’ as the unit of weight; with an approximate conversion to ounces.

My information comes from my own digital, computerized scale and the USDA Nutrient Data Library:

What Are Edible Pod Peas: Learn About Peas With Edible Pods

When people think of peas, they think of the tiny green seed (yes, it’s a seed) alone, not the exterior pod of the pea. That’s because English peas are shelled prior to being eaten, but there are also several edible pod pea varieties. Peas with edible pods were made for lazy cooks because let’s face it, shelling peas is time consuming. Interested in growing edible pod peas? Read on for more edible pod pea info.

What are Edible Pod Peas?

Edible pod peas are peas where the parchment has been bred out of the pod so the young pods stay tender. While there are a number of edible pod pea varieties, they come from two ilks: the Chinese pea pod (also known as snow pea or sugar pea) and snap peas. Chinese pea pods are flat pods with insignificant peas inside that are commonly used in Asian cuisine.

Snap peas are a relatively new type of pea with edible pods. Developed by Dr. C. Lamborn of the Gallatin Valley Seed Co. (Rogers NK Seed Co.), snap peas have fat pods filled with prominent peas. They are available in both bush and pole types as well as stringless.

Additional Edible Pea Pod Info

Pods of edible pea pods can be allowed to mature and then harvested and shelled for use just as English peas. Otherwise, they should be harvested when young and still tender. That said, snap peas have a thicker pod wall than snow peas and are eaten near maturity just like snap beans.

All peas produce better with cool temperatures and are early producers in spring. As temperatures warm, the plants begin to rapidly mature, shortening the production of peas.

Growing Edible Pod Peas

Peas grow best when temperatures are between 55-65 F. (13-18 C.). Plan to sow seeds 6-8 weeks prior to the last expected killing frost in your region when the soil is about 45 F. (7 C.) and can be worked.

Peas thrive in well-drained sandy soil. Sow seed an inch (2.5 cm.) deep and spaced 5 inches (13 cm.) apart. Set up a trellis or other support for the pea vines to clamber up or plant them next to an existing fence.

Keep the plants consistently moist but not drenched. Ample water will allow the pods to develop with the tenderest, plumpest peas, but too much will drown the roots and promote disease. For a continuous supply of edible pea pods, stagger plantings throughout the spring.

Say hello to this super easy sugar snap peas with lemon side dish. This sugar snap peas recipe is my go-to side dish recipe when I don’t have a lot of time for preparing a healthy side dish. It comes together in 10 minutes and can be paired with so many of your favorite entrees.

Do you struggle with making dinner? For many, it’s relatively easy to think of the main entree and to keep it clean and healthy. But, for some reason, people run out of ideas when it comes to side dishes and so they stick with the classic options that are not always healthy. You know…fries, mashed potatoes, white rice, pasta, all those usual suspects.

Does this sound familiar?

While these options may be tasty, they are not always very healthy or nutritious. And, while I still like to enjoy them every now and again, on a regular basis, I prefer healthier and more nutritious side dishes, like this sautéed sugar snap peas recipe.

If you’re anything like me, you love to eat fresh, raw snap peas right out of the bag. Guilty. As. Charged. If so, I’m pretty sure you’ll very much enjoy this side dish. It’s the next best thing.

These little snap peas are SO delicious. And this sugar snap peas recipe is simple, flavorful, and super easy.

The lemon zest adds the perfect strong, yet delicate, flavor to the sweet, crunchy snap peas.

Sometimes, if I have it on hand, I also like to throw in some fresh thyme leaves right at the end to add some extra oomph to the snap peas.

All in all, this recipe for snap peas makes a great side dish and takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish. Winner!


Okay — wondering what snap peas and snow peas are and how they’re different? Snap peas and snow peas are both members of the legume family. Also, both of them are climbing plants and are related to garden peas. They are similar, but not the same.

The most noticeable differences are their look and their taste, but the recommended cooking styles for snap peas and snow peas are also different from the cooking style of garden peas.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Snap peas, or sugar snap peas, are basically a cross between garden peas and snow peas. The whole pod is edible and they have a crunchy flavor and sweet taste.

What to do with snap peas:

  • Eat them raw as a snack <—- LOVE!
  • Use them to make simple side dishes, like this sugar snap peas with lemon
  • Slice them diagonally and toss in a salad for extra crunch.

Snow peas, also known as Chinese pea pods, are flat and they have very small peas inside. They have a mild flavor and, as in the case of snap peas, the whole pod can be eaten.

What do to with snow peas:

  • Eat them raw as a snack.
  • Use them in stir-fries.


Ok, snap peas are delicious but what are the snap pea health benefits? I mean…are snap peas healthy?

Thanks for asking. You know I love ya!

Snap peas are healthy, yes. And they also have numerous health benefits.

Wanna talk about them? Yeah? Ok. Mwah.

Snap peas…

  • Are high in fiber, which means they help your digestive system to work properly and they regulate your blood sugar levels.
  • Are low in calories. One cup of snap peas contains only 60 calories.
  • Are fat-free and they contain folate. Folate helps to lower the levels of amino acids in your body.
  • Are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C boots our immune system and prevents cold and flu.
  • Contain carotenoid. Carotenoid promotes eye health.
  • Contain calcium. Calcium is good for bone health.
  • Contain iron, which can help in combating anemia.

Snap pea nutrition per serving (serving size – 1 cup)

  • Calories – 60
  • Fat – 0
  • Cholesterol – 0
  • Potassium – 0
  • Carbs – 10.5g
  • Dietary fiber – 3g
  • Sugars – 4.5g
  • Vitamin A – 8% of the recommended daily dose
  • Vitamin C – 18% of the recommended daily dose
  • Calcium – 6% of the recommended daily dose
  • Iron – 13% of the recommended daily dose

As you can see, sugar snap peas are undoubtedly good for you.

Oooohhhhh SNAP! (Had to!)


I like to buy snap peas that are already de-stringed because it makes them just that much easier to prepare. And… because I can be a little lazy with things like that. At least I’m honest, right?

However, if you want to learn how to trim sugar snap peas, I can teach you. When I’m not lazy, I do it myself. So don’t worry I know how to do it.

How to trim sugar snap peas:

  1. Start with a snap pea in one hand and a paring knife in the other hand.
  2. Make sure the inside curve of the pod faces you.
  3. Sever the top of the snap pea and you’ll see a tough string that runs along the pod.
  4. Pull that string out.

That’s it. There’s no need to remove the other string but you can do it if you want.

See? It’s not hard and I know it isn’t but it takes time and, sometimes, I really don’t have that much time on my hands.

Bwahahaha: sometimes!


If you’re not the type of person who enjoys raw snap peas, you’ll need 2 things:

  1. learn how to cook snap peas
  2. snap peas recipes

This sautéed sugar snap peas recipe is my top recommendation, but if you learn how to cook snap peas, you’ll have tons of delicious options.

Sugar snap peas are best when they are briefly cooked. Cooking them for too long means ending up with soggy and bitter snap peas. Bleh! You don’t want that so make sure you don’t overcook them.

Perfectly cooked snap peas are green and they maintain a slight crunch. Basically: You want them to — snap — when you bite into them.

Now here are some cooking options for you:

  • Sauté them for 2 or 3 minutes with olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper and enjoy them. Or, if you want more flavors, use my sugar snap peas recipe.
  • Grill them for 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Season them with salt and pepper and serve them as a side dish.
  • Roast them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. You can season them with lemon zest or parmesan for extra taste.


Lemon zest is the perfect addition to making snap peas and I LOVE it in this sugar snap pea recipe.

Speaking of lemon zest… Do you know how to zest a lemon properly?

First, you should know that zesting lemons can be done with many kitchen tools like…

  • lemon zester
  • lemon grater
  • vegetable peeler
  • paring knife
  • kitchen grater
  • microplaner

Secondly, follow the steps below if you want to zest a lemon properly:

  1. Wash the lemon thoroughly.
  2. Dry the lemon with a paper towel.
  3. Make sure that when you’re zesting the lemons, you’re taking off only the yellow part. The white part is bitter and you want to avoid grating it.
  4. Tip: to prevent the lemon zest from sticking to the zester or grater, wrap the tool in plastic wrap before grating. When you’re done, pull the plastic wrap from the grater and shake it to transfer the lemon zest to a plate.

If you want to use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife to zest lemons…

  1. Carefully peel thin slices of lemon skin. Make sure you stay peel only the yellow layer.
  2. Chop finely.


This sugar snap peas recipe is proof that side dishes can be healthy and delicious at the same time. Also quick and easy to make. Do I have other similar side dish recommendations? Of course I do. Here they are:


This Lemon Roasted Asparagus recipe is another side dish recipe that is ready in 10 minutes.

Gotta love these 10-minute recipes, am I right? But that’s not all. This recipe is also easy to prepare, it does not require many ingredients, it tastes super yummy. Oh, the clean up is also super easy. Get the recipe.


This Garlic Parmesan Green Beans recipe is not another 10 minutes recipe. It is a 15 minutes recipe.

Green beans are delicious and crunchy, easy to cook and, when paired with garlic and parmesan, they make an amazing side dish for your favorite main dish recipes. Get the recipe.


You cannot have a healthy side dishes list without a broccoli recipe. So here’s my Roasted Broccoli recipe.

The flavor and texture of this baked broccoli are amazing and I know this side dish will become one of your favorite side dishes. Get the recipe.

5 from 1 vote Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon Prep Time 3 mins Cook Time 7 mins Total Time 10 mins

Say hello to this super easy sugar snap peas with lemon side dish. This sugar snap peas recipe is my go-to side dish recipe when I don’t have a lot of time for preparing a healthy side dish. It comes together in 10 minutes and can be paired with so many of your favorite entrees.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Recipe, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian Difficulty: Easy Keyword: snap peas, sugar snap peas, sugar snap peas recipe Servings: 5 cups Calories: 79 kcal Author: Lacey Baier Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, freshly grated
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Add the snap peas and toss to coat. Cook snap peas for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

  3. Add the lemon zest, salt and pepper (and thyme, if you wish) and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, until the snap peas begin to puff up and are crisp, yet tender.
  4. Serve immediately.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon Amount Per Serving (1 cup) Calories 79 Calories from Fat 27 % Daily Value* Fat 3g5% Sodium 295mg12% Potassium 226mg6% Carbohydrates 8g3% Fiber 2g8% Sugar 4g4% Protein 3g6% Vitamin A 1235IU25% Vitamin C 68.7mg83% Calcium 49mg5% Iron 2.4mg13% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post contains affiliate links for products I use often and highly recommend.

Pea Picking: The best way to tell when peas are ready is to pick and taste each day until they are just right.

The best tasting peas are young, sweet, and tender.

The best way to tell when peas are ready is to pick and taste each day until they are just right. Then harvest.

Peas should be just about ready for harvest 3 weeks after the flowers appear. Shelling peas are ready when the pods have swelled and are nearly cylindrical shape. Edible pod peas are ready when they are 2-3 inches long, before the seeds begin to swell.

A small pair of scissors may be the quickest way to harvest, or pinch them off by hand. Vines can be brittle, so steady them with one hand with picking with the other. The tips of pea vines are edible and can be used in stir fries.

Harvest peas often. The more you pick the more the vines will produce.

You’ll want to start eating your pea harvest immediately. Like corn, peas start converting their sugar to starch as soon as they are picked.

If your peas taste just a tad bitter or the texture seems off, you probably waited too long.

Pea growing tips at How to Grow Peas.

Harvesting Peas – A How-To Guide

When harvesting peas, check the appearance of the pods to determine if they are ready to be picked. Peas have the best, sweetest flavor if they are picked at just the right time. Harvest too early and the pods will be small with only a few peas inside. Wait too late and the pods become fibrous and the peas inside lose much of their sweetness. Here are some tips for determining if your peas are ready to be picked.

Garden Peas

When harvesting peas that will need to be shelled, check to see that the pod is round and bright green. It should also be somewhat shiny. There should be no visible bumps. These are indications that your peas have reached their peak and are ready to be harvested. If you wait too long, the pods will have bumps from the peas inside getting too large. The pods will also be dull green with no sheen. At this stage, your peas are over- ripe. You can still pick them and eat them, they just won’t taste as good and may have a tough texture.

Snap Peas

When harvesting peas that have a round, edible pod, you also have a larger window of time to still get great flavor and texture. You can harvest them as early as you want to. You can also wait until the pods are large and rounded. As long as the pod appears to be shiny and not bulging, it will still taste sweet and have a good level of crispness. Once the peas begin to dull and get bulges, they are past their prime. You can still pick them and shell the peas to eat, but the pods will be fibrous and not taste as good. As with snow peas, it’s better to pick snap peas too early rather than too late.

Snow Peas

When harvesting peas that have a flat, edible pod, you have a bigger window of time to still get great flavor. These peas can be picked as soon as they are big enough for your liking. As long as the peas inside the pod have not enlarged, you’re in good shape. You can also gently squeeze the pods to see if there’s a little movement around the peas inside. Once the peas inside become larger, the pod will be tighter, rounder and have a more fibrous texture. At this stage, the pods and peas will also lose much of their sweetness. When in doubt, it’s better to pick snow peas too early rather than too late.

When harvesting peas of any variety, take great care when picking the pods from the vine. Pea plants have shallow root systems. If you aren’t careful, you may pull the whole plant out of the ground when trying to pick a pea pod. The stems are also delicate and can break off easily. It’s best to use 2 hands to pick peas. Use one of your hands to hold the vine and the other hand to gently pinch the pod off the plant.

Pea plants, like peppers, green beans and lots of other plants, will produce more if you keep picking the peas on a regular basis. Once the plants begin producing pods, you should be harvesting peas every 2-3 days to force the plants to produce more pods.

If it was up to them and weather conditions were ideal, pea plants would continuously produce pods throughout the year, as long as you kept picking them. However, pod production and quality begins to suffer greatly when hot weather appears. If you are growing a fall pea crop, harvest as many peas as you can before the first hard freeze, which will also shut down production. Once production stops, you can pull the plants up by the roots and add
them to your compost pile.

After harvesting garden peas, you’ll need to remove the peas from the inedible pods. Use your fingernail or a small sharp knife to cut a slit down the length of the pod. Open the pod and empty out the peas. The pods can be added to your compost pile.

Since the pods of snow peas and snap peas are edible, they don’t need to be shelled. Just trim off any remaining stems and eat them whole, pod and all.

Garden peas, snow peas and snap peas are best eaten as soon as possible after picking them. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Wash them off and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you want to store peas for longer, you can freeze them. Just blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes and them plunge them into ice-water to stop the cooking process. Once cool, you can pack the peas in airtight bags or containers and place them in the freezer. They will last for up to 9 months. You can use this method to freeze garden peas, snow peas and snap peas.

You can also use a dehydrator to dry shelled garden peas. Once dried out, they can be stored in airtight bags or containers and used later in stew or soup. This process doesn’t work well for snap peas or snow peas. You can also leave the peas on the vine until the pods turn brown and brittle. The peas inside will dry out and can be shelled directly into airtight bags or jars.

Now that you know all about harvesting peas, it’s time for a few of our favorite recipes that feature peas.

4 Tips for Harvesting Snap Peas

Snap peas are delicious and nutritious. Here are some tips to maximize your harvest and your enjoyment.

When to harvest. Snap pea pods are sweetest and most tender in cool weather when they are young and while still increasing in size. GardenZeus recommends harvesting when pods have swelled but before they are fully plump. GardenZeus expert Darren Butler prefers to eat snap peas before the rounding of individual peas is apparent through the shell of a pod. Peas may quickly lose flavor and sweetness at maturity, during hot weather, and within hours to days after being harvested, as sugars in the pods and seeds turn to starches. Even 2 or 3 days of hot weather may negatively impact the flavor of snap peas. Older pods become tougher and stringy, with less sweetness and flavor, to the point that pods become inedible and the less-flavorful peas may need to be shelled to be eaten.

How to harvest. Pea plants are delicate and may have shallow root systems; stems are easily bent or broken. Avoid the temptation of pulling on pods to harvest them; this may break stems or pull the plant off of its trellis or support. For smaller or shallow-rooted plants, the harvesting-by-yanking method may partially or completely pull plants out of soil. GardenZeus recommends harvesting pea pods with garden shears, kitchen or garden scissors, or a sharp knife. An alternative, recommended only as a back-up measure or when the sudden need arises to graze on snap peas while garden shears and knives are at an impossible distance, is to use both hands: hold the stem above the pod with one hand, and use the other to pinch or pull off the pod.

How often to harvest. Harvest regularly, every day or every other day, to encourage production of new pods and maximize yield from snap peas over a possible bearing period of weeks to months. Pea plants may produce few new pods while maturing seeds in existing pods. Check plants carefully to avoid allowing any pods to stay on pea plants. As with all annual vegetables, the life cycle of pea plants is based on reproduction (blooming then setting seeds). If pods are allowed to persist on plants until the seeds are fully mature, the plant may stop producing, decline, and die. If you allow the first dozen or two pods to mature and develop seeds, that may exhaust the plant and become your entire harvest; whereas, if you harvest all pods when young, a pea plant may continue to produce consistently for 2 to 3 months or longer. Allowing a few pods on a given plant to go unharvested, such as those hidden among weeks or in another out-of-sight area, may reduce yield and shorten the harvest period.

When to eat. They are best used or preserved immediately after harvest, as sugars in the pods and seeds turn to starches. As with all garden vegetables, but especially those that are tempting to harvest and eat immediately, GardenZeus strongly recommends washing snap-pea pods thoroughly before eating (who knows what the last several bugs stepped in before they walked on your pea pods) but snap-pea pods are otherwise ready to eat immediately after harvest.

To view customized instructions for growing snap peas, go to GardenZeus and enter your zip code, then go to snap pea. For ideas on how to extend the harvest of snap peas in increasingly warm weather, see GardenZeus Tips for Shading Vegetables During Hot Weather.

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