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Nutrition Articles  ›  Seasonal & Holiday Tips

Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Peas

A Guide to Gardening, Growing and Harvesting Edibles

-- By Jenny Sigler, SparkPeople Contributor
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Peas are easy to grow; once established, they require little more than watering and harvesting. There are several types of peas, including shelling, snap, snow and sugar pod peas.

Hardiness Zones:
5-11 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
Directly sow seeds between late winter and early spring, a month before your last frost date. Plant seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep and 1 inch apart in single or double rows. 

Conditions:
Peas require full sun to partial shade. Loamy, rich soils are best, but peas will tolerate all soils except clay.

Space Needed:
Allow 18 to 24 inches between single or pairs of rows. Allow 8 to 10 inches between double rows in pairs. Vertical space varies by variety, but most peas grow at least 3 feet high.

Maintenance:
In the hottest part of the summer, you may have to provide some shade for peas. Peas need a support but will find their way up any trellis on their own without training. Add additional soil or mulch around the peas during the hottest part of the summer to keep roots cool and maximize water retention. They require no extra fertilization. Consider using a legume inoculate to boost production.

When to Harvest:
Harvest time varies by variety, so consult your seed packet. Inspect the pods by breaking one of them open. Those that are ready for harvest will contain healthy peas that have a nice sheen, are bright green, and are fully developed (one exception is snow peas because the entire pod is edible and will not contain "swollen" peas). Peas are most delicious when picked very shortly before consumption. Snow peas are ready 5-7 days before flowering. Harvest peas every few days for up to three weeks after the initial harvest.

Average Yield:
A 6-foot row of shelling peas will yield about 5 pounds over the season; all other varieties will produce about 6 pounds for every 6-foot row.

Continuous Yield:
No

Life Cycle:
Annual

Difficulty Rating (1-5):
2
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About The Author

Jenny Sigler Jenny Sigler
Jenny is a stay-at-home mom to her young children, Augustine and Olive. An avid gardener and baker, she enjoys writing about health and childcare topics to empower people to make healthy choices. See all of Jenny's articles.

Member Comments

  • JGMARIE80
    I always grow zucchinis, tomatoes, and bell peppers. They're my favorites. I have the soil prepared but don't have the plants yet. - 4/29/2013 5:03:09 PM
  • Does anyone know what peas and beans are best/easiest to grow in northern New Jersey? I just moved to Essex County and don't know the soil/conditions around here yet.
    - 2/2/2011 12:16:15 PM
  • Thanks for these articles, as they are so helpful. - 5/6/2009 10:14:48 AM
  • Peas are so yummy and easy to grow! I like growing Super Sugar Snap. The pods are great at any stage and you can shell them or eat them whole. I've never had any problems growing them, and the plant is so pretty and the flowers smell nice. I interplant them with sweet peas for extra color and fun. Here in California I grow them in late fall and through the winter into spring and get loads of peas. - 4/15/2009 11:18:12 AM