Do you have your peas in yet? If not, time to hit your garden plot. Growing peas is easy and rewarding – they are the perfect early crop. Peas like cool temperatures, and, luckily, snow is no problem for them. Peas stop producing once the temperatures get up around 70 F, so the earlier you can get them planted the better. We’re about two weeks behind this year on account of our hard winter and cold spring, but still hopeful that we’ll have enough time to bring in a good harvest before it gets too hot. We put ours in a few days ago and last night we got snow, but that's OK. Snow is good fertilizer for peas.
There are three kinds of peas: snap, shell and snow. Snap and snow have edible pods, which means no shelling. Jim and I grow snap peas because we like them, and, well, neither of us really likes shelling peas. I think both of us have childhood memories of seemingly never-ending pea-shelling! But fortunately we love the taste of snap peas. Fresh picked and steamed, they melt like butter in your mouth. Even flash-frozen, last year’s peas tasted delicious out of the chest freezer right up until last month when our supply ran out.
Peas are a relatively low-maintenance crop. They do need full sun, but do not need fertilizer. You’ll have to watch the watering – they need enough to germinate but not so much water that they rot. We put up a 5-foot fence for the peas to climb. Most years they climb right on up over the fence and down the other side. You can plant peas along your garden fence but you run the risk of animals eating your peas from outside the fence, and it’s also going to be a lot of weight on your fence. Pea plants get huge!
Once peas start ripening up, harvest is a bit of a landslide; we’ve found we can pick a grocery bag full in less than 15 minutes between the two of us. Once your peas really start coming on make sure to pick carefully every day so you don’t miss any and so that the plants continue producing.
We haven’t had any disease problems (cross-fingers!) with our peas. We do rotate their location around the garden each year, taking care not to use the same area twice in a row.
Your pea plants will be finished by late June, and you’ll be able to clear them out and put in something else, for us, probably broccoli.