How to Grow Sweet Peas
Sweet Peas are one of the favorite vegetables of kids and adults. You'll
love them straight from the garden. You can pick sweet peas off the vine,
shell them and eat them raw, for a delicious, and healthy snack. Sweet Peas
are one of the hardier vegetables. Sometimes called snow peas or snap peas,
they get their name as the young seedlings can survive frosts, freezes and
There are numerous varieties of garden sweet peas. Some pea plants require
fencing or support. Others are described as "Self-supporting". Read the
directions on the package to identify what you are buying. We recommend you
fence them, regardless of type. This helps to keep the pea pods off the ground,
and results in cleaner peas. Inexpensive chicken wire fence and a few stakes
are all you need. Or, use a
Vegetable "Pop Rocks!? Run Frozen peas under hot tap water to warm
them up. (Don't cook them). Kids love they way the peas "pop" in their
Varieties of Sweet Peas:
Regular Sweet Peas- These nutritious vegetables are grown for their seeds.
There are many varieties to choose from. Some are better for canning and
freezing, while others are best fresh.
Edible Podded- Eat the pea pod and all. The pod is sweet and tender (if picked
while still young). It also contains pea seeds. Best of all, they are far
easier to prepare. Simply pick them, wash them off, and cook them. No shelling
Chinese Peas- Similar to edible podded peas, you eat the crispy pod of these
chinese varieties. The difference, is the pea inside is very tiny.
Days to Maturity:
Ranges from 55 to 70 days, depending on variety. Early varieties have
less seeds in the pod, usually three to four. Later varieties may have 8
to 10 seeds per pod.
Hills and Mounding:
Early spring crops benefit by creating a long hill or mound. This slight
elevation helps to warm the soil. Most importantly, it keeps excess water
and spring rain from rotting the seeds before they sprout.
Don't worry if there is cold weather or even snow. Young pea plants are hardy,
and will survive temperatures into the 20's.
How to Grow Sweet Peas:
Growing sweet peas is easy. Select an area of your vegetable garden that
gets full sun. The plants prefer rich garden soil. Mound soil for spring
planting, if your area receives heavy and frequent spring rains.
Sow sweet pea seeds as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Space
seeds 1" to 1 1/2" apart. The large seeds are easy to space. We suggest planting
double rows, with the double rows about 2 feet apart. Place a fence between
the double rows, for them to climb upon.
Apply a side dressing of fertilizer, to give these plants a fast start as
soon as they germinate. Apply a general purpose fertilizer every three to
Planted in the early spring, the soil is usually contains plenty of moisture
until warmer, drier weather sets in. Water deeply, as needed.
Sweet Peas do not grow well in hot weather. However, fall crops will do well.
Make sure to plant them with enough growing time to mature prior to heavy
Harvest as sweet peas, and edible podded varieties, while young and tender.
Sweet Peas lose their sweetness and become hard, if left on the vine
Insects and Pests:
Pea seedlings are a popular food for birds. As the seedlings grow, birds
will sometimes eat the tender tips. We recommend placing chicken wire or
bird netting over the young seedlings.
Boring insects will sometimes enter the pea pod. Occasional aphid infestations
can also occur, but this is uncommon.
In wet weather, slugs will climb the vines and suck on the pea pods. Use
snail and slug pellets. For organic control, make a beer trap. Put a little
beer in a small can or bowl. Tuna cans work great. Bury the trap, up to the
lip, in the garden soil. Snails and slugs will be attracted to it, fall in
More on Slugs and snails
More on Plant Problem Diseases
With summer heat and humidity, comes diseases that can befall these plants
just before, or during the ripening of the crop. Fungicides can be used in
areas of high heat and humidity. However, we recommend you find out whether
it is a problem in your area first.
Peas are very "cold weather" hardy. Plant them early in the season. They
will withstand frost, light freezes, and even snow cover. Planted early enough
you can complete one crop by early July, and still have time for a fall crop
in most areas.
Peas do not like heat. In hot weather the plant stunts or slows it's growth.
Any peas that develop and mature are not as sweet.
Garden Sweet Peas Recipes:
May we suggest: