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How to Grow Peas

Date Posted: May 19, 2016

Seeds of the Month Club by Mike the Gardener How to Grow Peas
photo credit: Mike the Gardener: Peas

I love growing peas in my own home garden. Like many other vegetables and fruits, you can pick the peas right off the vine and eat them right there in the garden. While I won’t say that growing peas is difficult, there are some steps you can take to ensure that your pea harvest is an abundant one.

Choosing Where to Grow Your Peas

This year I am growing my peas in a three foot by three foot raised bed located in a corner area by my house in the backyard. I chose this spot because it receives full sun, and because the peas replenish the soil with nitrogen, it made for a perfect “next” crop in the rotation for this particular bed, since I grew cucumbers in there last season. I talk more about replenishing the soil towards the end of this article. The important takeaway from this is that, peas love sun. The more the better so be sure to choose a location that receives at least 6 hours worth.

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How to Grow Peas

Conditioning the Soil Where Your Peas Will Grow

Peas do not require a lot of fertilizer to be successful but adding in a little bit of compost or aged manure can be beneficial. Unlike other vegetables, where feeding during the course of the season is highly recommended, peas do not need to be fed regularly. A simple layer of compost to the top of your garden bed is all it will need, and I would recommend only doing that once after the plants have been growing for 4 weeks.

Growing Peas at Home

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When to Start Your Pea Seeds

When to start your pea seeds will vary based on your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. The earlier you can start your seeds outdoors the better it is to simply direct sow them into your garden bed. If you are in a colder climate where direct seeding is nearly impossible, then start your pea seeds indoors and transplant them outdoors when the weather allows.

Direct Sowing Pea Seeds

Direct sowing of pea seeds is exactly as it sound. You take your pea seeds and plant them directly in the ground. There are a couple of ways you can do this. The traditional way is to create a small indentation into the soil, for the length of a row, about 2 inches deep. You then take your packet of seeds and plant them along the entire row. When they start popping up, you thin them out by snipping away the ones that are crowding out the ones you want to keep. This leaves you with pea plants that should be spaced out every 4 to 6 inches. To me that seems like a lot of waste. I would recommend that you measure every 4 to 6 inches, poke your finger into the soil creating a hole, and drop one pea seed in. You waste fewer pea seeds doing it this way.

Starting Pea Seeds Indoors

For those of you that simply cannot direct sow peas into your garden bed, starting your pea plants indoors is the way to go. I have written a few articles extensively on starting seeds indoors. I would recommend that you check out What does it take to start your seeds indoors?, How to start your Vegetable Seeds, and Start your seeds in these basic trays. These 3 blog posts go in depth on how to start your seeds indoors. Once you have your pea plants growing indoors and the fear of frost has passed, you can start moving them outdoors. I would recommend that you harden off your plants for a week or two prior to your planting date. This can can be done by taking your plants outside during the day and bringing them in at night when frost is most prevalent.

How to Grow Peas

Watering and Feeding Your Peas

Peas do not require a whole lot of water. Water your pea plants sparingly. If you get a good soaking rain then you will be good for a week or two unless the temperatures get really hot. Unless you see your pea plants wilting, don’t water.

Harvesting Your Peas

The time has come to enjoy your peas and that means you have to start harvesting them. I would recommend that you constantly harvest mature pea pods. This will ensure that your pea plants will continually grow new peas for you to enjoy. Depending on which variety or varieties that you are growing, the pea pods can be short and fat or long and skinny, and anywhere in between, so it is hard to say when they are perfectly ripe. Most pea pods will be plump when they are ready. Simply pick a few, open them up and check out the size of the pea. All the peas inside will be perfectly formed.

How to Grow Peas

Properly Removing Pea Plants When they are Done

You might be thinking, how can the process of removing the pea plants when they are done, be anything more than simply pulling them out of the ground and throwing them into your compost pile? Well it sort of is. Peas take in nitrogen from the air and store it in their roots. So, when pea season is over, instead of pulling out the entire plant, simply cut the plant down at the soil level, leaving the roots remaining in the ground. As the roots breakdown, that nitrogen is released back into the soil. Planting a vegetable variety in this spot, that requires higher amounts of nitrogen, would be ideal in a crop rotation.

Happy gardening!

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Mike the gardener

About the Author

Mike Podlesny is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of the Seeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts. Don`t forget to link up with Mike on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.


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