Popular Pea Varieties: Snow Peas, Snap Peas and More
You have many different varieties of peas to choose from. The three main types are:
- snow peas – edible, flat, stringless pods with small peas in them;
- snap peas – edible, thick pods containing large peas;
- garden peas – inedible pods with sweet, large peas.
Within each of these three categories, there are numerous cultivars. For example, the ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ snow peas are a dwarf variety that only grows to about 16 inches tall. The ‘Cascadia’ snap pea is known for its very sweet, juicy pods. And the ‘Wando’ garden peas are especially good for freezing.
If you’re not sure which variety to grow, ask your local nursery or gardening center for suggestions. You can also try different cultivars to see which ones you like best. Keep reading to learn how to grow peas.
Planting Peas: The Basics
Peas are best planted in the early spring, as soon as the ground has thawed. Don’t worry if another frost is forecasted – peas can handle it. In fact, they actually grow better after being exposed to a little bit of cold weather. As long as the soil temperatures have reached 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you can sow your peas.
If the ground is soaked from melting snow, wait a day or two for it to dry out before planting. You don’t want your peas to sit in wet soil, as this can lead to disease. You can also plant them on raised beds to ensure good drainage. Partial shade is best if you’re wondering how to grow peas in terms of sunlight.
Plant your peas 1 inch deep, about 2 inches apart in rows that are 7 inches apart. If you’re using a trellis, plant the peas in a single line next to it. Otherwise, you can just let them sprawl on the ground – some varieties are bred short so that they don’t require support.
How to Grow Peas: Caring for the Seedlings
Once the peas have been planted, give them a good drink of water. After they germinate, limit watering to 1 inch per week. Too much or too little water can both lead to problems such as yellowing leaves and stunted growth.
Weeds can also compete with your peas for nutrients and water, so be sure to pull them out as soon as you see them. You can also lay down a layer of mulch to help prevent weeds from growing in the first place. Grass clippings or shredded leaves work best, and they’ll also double as a fertilizer.
As the peas start to grow, you may see some insects such as aphids and root maggots. These pests can damage your plants, so it’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible. You can do this by spraying the plants with cold water.
How Long Do Peas Take to Grow?
Germination takes 7-14 days. After that, how long do peas take to grow? Pea plants take about 60 to 70 days to mature. However, this can vary depending on the variety you’re growing. For example, ‘Sugar Ann’ snap peas only take 56 days.
You’ll know the peas are ready to harvest when the pods are plump and the peas inside are still small. If you wait too long, the peas will start to get big and starchy. Of course, this depends on the variety – here are the signs that each type of pea is ready to be picked:
- Snow peas: The pods begin to show immature seeds inside. Because the pods are edible, you can start eating them as soon as they’re ready.
- Snap peas: The pods will be plump and full, but still glossy.
- Garden peas: The pods will be plump and full of dull-looking peas. Pick them before the pods become waxy.
To harvest, simply snap the pods off of the plant. If they don’t come off easily, they’re not quite ready yet. After harvesting, you can store the pods in a refrigerator for up to 5 days (wrapped in paper and placed in a plastic bag).
Now you know how to grow peas and when to pick them. Enjoy!