Days to Germination: 4-14 days
Germination Temperature: 60°-70°F
Since Peas dislike heat, direct-sow in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked or in the late summer for fall harvest. Peas prefer rich soil. Amend the soil as necessary with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-rotted manure. Plant in full sunlight. Plant seeds 1" to 2" apart or in double rows 4" to 6" apart. Provide a supportive structure if the Pea vines grow over 24" tall. Space the rows the distance equal to the height of each variety. Water regularly and mulch to deter weeds and retain ground moisture. Install floating row covers to protect the plants from birds if necessary. Harvest Shelling Peas while they are small and tender. Harvest Snow Pea Pods when their pods are flat and shiny. Harvest Snap Peas when their pods are fat and tight but still smooth. Pick Peas on a daily basis once mature to prolong pod formation. For an early crop, prepare the bed completely in the fall, digging in lots of manure. By doing so, you will not have to wait for the soil to be workable and prepared: all you will have to do is pop the seeds in the ground as soon as it has thawed in the early spring. Peas are open-pollinated, thus ideal candidates for seed saving.
Cues for Minding Your Peas
Picking Peas is easy, but you need to do it at least every other day for best quality and freshness, and to keep production going. Here are a few tips:
~For Pea vines that flop over but are too short to trellis, flip them to one side and pick the ones exposed on top. The next day flip the whole row back again and pick the other side.
~For tender shelling Peas, pick when the Peas are round and filled out in the pods. When you squeeze the pod they should feel solid but not hard.
~Pick snap Peas such as Super Sugar Snaps when they feel hard, but while the surfaces of the pods are still smooth.
~Peas grown for their pods, such as Snowflake, should be picked while they are still flat, before the Peas swell inside. The pods can be picked while tiny, but have more flavor at a larger size.
Win the Race for Spring Peas
A local restaurant we know used to award a prize for the earliest Peas brought in. To me, that heavenly fresh taste is reward enough. Here are some tricks for extra-earlies: prepare the bed completely in the fall, digging in lots of manure. It can even be fresh manure, since it will rot during winter. You won’t have to wait for the soil to be workable; just pop the seeds in the ground as soon as it has thawed. In warm climates, you can even plant in late fall or winter for spring germination.