We planted peas and a few rows of carrots over the weekend. It was the latest we’ve ever started them, but the frost just got out of the ground a week ago, so we didn’t have much choice. Peas like cooler weather and they don’t mind snow at all, so we try to get them in as soon as we can work the soil. With us moving to a new house next week, it’s somewhat of a miracle that we got them in at all I suppose.
We grow snap peas, mostly because we love their flavor but also because we aren’t big fans of shelling shell peas and snow peas aren’t our favorite. But the rules for planting and harvesting are the same no matter what variety you prefer.
Peas don’t require any fertilizer and grow very rapidly. They need full sun and a regular supply of water. Unless you use a dwarf variety you are going to need a fence for your pea plants to climb along. Our peas get huge – we use a 4-foot fence and they climb up and over it. It’s fun to watch the plants grow, it seems that they grow an inch a day at least for quite a while.
Peas are fairly pest and disease resistant. Because they are such an early crop you are getting ahead of most insects. You do have to watch out for rabbits, however, as they would love to make a tasty dinner out of your small pea shoots.
Once your peas start to ripen, make sure to go out and pick carefully every day or two. If they get ahead of you, you’ll miss ripe peas and also your plants will stop producing. Peas come on fast and produce a lot all at once. Last year we froze 27 packages of peas in just about a month of picking. We finished the last frozen package on April 3, so it seems like we had about the right amount.
About two months after you’ve planted (around late June for us) your peas will be all done and you can clear them out and plant something else in the space. We usually replace them with broccoli or let our zucchinis and summer squash take over the space.