Shell, Snap, Snow...OH MY!
It seems like everything in the garden has choices. Things to decide before you start, things to decide during the growing process, and things to decide during harvest! Well…Guess what! Peas are the same way!
Growing peas can be fun and beautiful. The flowers on pea vines are dainty and sweet most of the time. And, plant all across a trellis really is something to see!
That brings me to the first choice. What kind of trellis will you use? Unless you are growing a very compact variety, you will need a trellis. You can get something over the top and beautiful, or just use some long bamboo stakes with string tied between them. Regardless of what you choose to use, you want it in the ground before you plant your seeds (or starts if you go in that direction).
With three types of peas, and endless varieties of each type, you are bound to find one, some, or several that are your “favorites”. My favorite type of pea is the snap because I like to pull them off the plant and pop them in my mouth while still in the garden! However, decide what you like and then start with the steps!
1. Plant Early! Pea seeds can be planted 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost date when the soil is cool but workable. Peas planted in soil that is around 40 degrees will germinate slowly. If you wait until the soil is around 50 degrees you will see them sprout up faster! You can always start peas inside and transplant them out as well. You can also start a fall harvest of peas about 4 weeks before your first frost.
Snow and frost will not hurt pea plants, however several days with temperatures in the teens could. Have some frost fabric on hand just in case and be prepared to plant again if the first peas don’t make it.
2. Go With Full Sun! Plant in a sunny location with well-draining soil. Peas can grow with some shade but they will not be as productive and the taste won’t be as sweet as you would like!
3. Planting Day! Soaking seeds in water overnight before planting is not needed at all, but it will speed up germination. So if you are in a hurry, grab a cup of water!
Plant seeds about 1 inch deep! The standard thought is that seeds should be placed 2 to 2 inches apart. However, an old farmer once said he just piled the peas in and let them do their thing and they grew like crazy. You can do whatever you want to do with this but if you are going to plant closer than normal, make sure you fertilize them well. No need to ever thin plants out.
Fertilizer Tip: Fertilize with something high in phosphorus and potassium but not much nitrogen. Otherwise, you will get leaf growth instead of flowers or pods.
That is about all there is to peas. They will grow and vine and produce great harvests for you in the right conditions.