Growing peas in your own raised bed garden can give you the advantage of enjoying their sweet and natural flavor – one that you can’t find when you shop for the ones in grocery stores. The good thing about the plea plants is you can easily grow them.
It is even possible for you to plant peas and begin cultivating them as soon as the ground is ready to work on it even if there is impending snow. Get to know more about the sweet peas and how you can grow them through this article.
Quick Facts About the Pea Plants
- Botanical name: Pisum sativum
- Type of plant: Vegetable
- Soil and pH level: Loam and well-drained soil with high humus content; Slightly acidic to neutral, preferably around 5.5 to 7.0 pH level
- Sunlight exposure: Partial sun, full sun
- Mature size: 12 to 18 inches tall, 6 to 12 inches wide
- Color of flowers: Varies from one pea species to another but mostly white or light purple
- Hardiness zones: 2 – 11 USDA zones
Short Description of Peas (Pisum Sativum)
For those interested in taking care of their own vegetable garden, growing peas is one of the things they love doing. The reason is that these peas are among the most flavorful and attractive additions to your kitchen garden. It allows them to enjoy great-looking flowers, delicate leaves, climbing tendrils, and crisp green pods.
Peas are also recognized and known for being small powerhouses with their low-calorie content and high antioxidant content as well as anti-inflammatory agents. The pea plants are also rich in micronutrients, protein, minerals, fiber, and essential vitamins that give you a lot of health benefits.
One more thing to note about peas is that they belong to annual vegetables. It would be best to eat them raw or directly from the plants prior to the transformation of the sugar naturally found in them to starch. This may cause them to have that sweet flavor.
Pea Plant Varieties
The pea comes in three varieties – among them are the following:
English or Garden Peas
The most common pea plant variety is the garden or English peas. You can grow them because of their pea pods that can then be shelled as a means of releasing the plump peas you can find within.
Depending on your chosen variety, expect the peas belonging in this category to have a sweet taste – one that is moderate to intense. The cultivars of the garden peas, including the Little Marvel, Early Frost, and Tom Thumb are specifically perfect for container gardens.
Despite the small size of the snow peas, you can still expect them to deliver a sweet taste/flavor. You will also like the snow peas pods recognized for being edible. You can use the snow peas in a wide range of dishes, including stir-fries, salads, and soups.
Sugar Snap Peas
The third variety includes the sugar snap peas. The sugar snap peas serve as a cross of the two varieties of peas we have previously talked about in brief. It is a versatile variety, which allow shelling peas or using them in the pods.
When Should You Plant Peas?
One admirable fact about the peas (pisum sativum), whether it is the snow peas, snap peas, or English or garden peas, is that they are fond of growing in conditions that are cool and frost-free. With that, expect them to handle the cool weather and climate well.
The flowers of the pea may be drastically affected by the frost in case you made the decision of planting peas at that time. This may also lead to the pods not forming, so it is advisable to check the perfect time to sow seeds in your local climate.
The best time to sow pea seeds is around four to six weeks prior to the last frost date during the spring. It is best to do the sowing by this time as it is when the soil temperature is cool or at its finest for the pea.
The Perfect Planting Location
You also have to make it a point to choose a location that is perfect for your chosen pea variety, whether it’s the snow peas, snap peas, or garden peas. It should be in a sunny spot and should have well-draining soil. Note that peas grown mostly in a place with only a partial shade may be at risk of not being as productive and sweet as the ones you grow under full sun.
To provide the plant with the perfect head-start, have the pea bed turned over during the fall. This should help in combining the aged compost or manure. Make sure to mulch well.
Avoid planting the peas in a similar spot more than one time every four years. It also helps to rotate the crops. Also, note that similar to other legumes, it is possible for pea rots to fix nitrogen in the soil, promoting the availability of space for other plants.
Basics of Growing Peas from Seeds
If you plan to grow peas from seeds, then the best way to do it is to sow seeds directly outdoors. Do this specifically at a time when you can already work on the soil during the spring. Ensure that you plant the pea seeds in an area with proper drainage.
It is important to keep the pea seeds moist but avoid letting them sit in the water for a prolonged period; otherwise, they will rot. The perfect time to sow seeds is starting from the early to late spring so you can enjoy harvesting them in the summer. Sow the seeds again during the summer, around July to August, so you can enjoy a fall crop.
When sowing pea seeds during the spring season, there should be a one-inch deep and one-third-inch spacing. If you are going to do it in the summer, there should be around 2-inch depth. This should help in making the seeds cooler while keeping them fully protected from the sun’s heat.
Also, note that on average, it takes around a week or two for the seeds to germinate. However, using warmer soil can encourage the quick germination of the seeds.
Plant various varieties – a minimum of ten feet apart. This should help in preventing cross-pollination, which is a good thing if you intend to save the seeds.
If your space allows it, you should consider installing a trellis. The reason is that most pea varieties require something where they can climb while growing. In this case, you should plant peas in two rows – one row per side of the trellis.
Make sure to plant the peas around an inch or two inches apart. It would be unnecessary to thin the planted peas as you can expect them to grow perfectly using that spacing.
Retain the moisture of the soil until you notice the peas germinating, which often takes around 7 to 10 days. You can speed up the germination by soaking the pea seeds overnight before planting.
Choosing the Right Pot or Container
You can also grow your pea in a container. Just like many container gardening tips, keep in mind that your choice of a gardening container or a pot can greatly contribute to the successful and healthy growth of the peas.
Also, keep in mind that the root system of pea plants is kind of shallow. With that in mind, it is possible for peas to grow happily and healthily if you put them in planters that are moderately deep.
Width is also more essential than depth when it comes to growing peas. This signifies that it is possible for the pea plants to grow successfully even in troughs and window boxes.
If you choose to grow peas in a container, then note that the plant varieties also have a say on the specific pot or container you should use. If you decide to grow bush or taller varieties, choose a container that allows planting them at eight to twelve inches deep. There should also be a space of three to five inches in between each plant.
If you go for the dwarf variety, then planting them at a 6-inch depth would suffice. These are also smaller plants that you can grow with a space of two to three inches in between them.
When picking a pot or container for pea planting, go for one that is large enough that it can sufficiently hold the plants. There should also be some drainage holes at the bottom of each pot or container.
Also, note that clay pot or terracotta pot soil tends to dry quicker compared to the one that you put in a plastic container or pot. Ensure that the pots are clean. The bottom should come with drainage holes to promote efficient draining.
In case the pots you are using are kind of shallow, make it a point to use a quick-draining potting mix. With that, you can prevent the plant from developing root rot.
How to Grow Peas in Containers?
To grow peas in containers, you may want to use seeds. The good news is that this method is quite easy and quick, so expect to experience only minimal complications during the process.
Here are the usual steps:
- Sow the seeds – You can do the sowing of pea seeds either in small pots or trays filled with general-purpose or fresh potting mix.
- Plant the seeds – When planting the seeds, the spacing should be around two inches apart or in between. They should also be planted less than two inches deep.
- Cover the seeds – Put the planted seeds in an area that lets them receive partial sunlight. Water it well, too. The soil has to be moist but not wet until the seeds germinate.
Note that germination for peas grown in containers usually takes place in around thirty days. If you are living in a place with a warm condition and with a soil temperature that goes up to and over 60 degrees F, you can expect the germination process to be faster.
If you want, you can soak the seeds overnight. Use warm water when soaking and do it for 24 hours or overnight before you sow them.
This tip helps in softening the seed’s shell, thereby encouraging germination. Once the seedlings are already around 5-inch tall, transplant them to the final position.
Transplanting the Peas
You can safely transplant the seedlings into the final position once they are already around 5-inch high. If the peas you are growing in containers are outside, then wait until the passing of the final frost date before you plant them out.
Just remind yourself to acclimatize or harden off the seedlings before you transplant them. Use well-draining and fresh commercial potting mix to fill your pots or container. You may also want to use a loam-based mix.
After that, provide a minimum of three to four inches of space in between each garden pea. The actual spacing needed by the seedlings will actually depend on the specific pea variety you are growing. That said, make sure to examine the details indicated in the seed packet before you transplant them.
The period of transplantation is also the perfect time for you to put a sort of support to the container or pot. It could be in the form of a bamboo pole or trellis. The good thing about providing a kind of support when growing peas during the early phase is that it promotes ease in training the plant’s growth habit.
To support the process of growing peas healthily, you may also want to give companion planting a try. It refers to the act of growing and cultivating plants and crops that have mutual benefits together. It is a natural and great method of improving yield and the health of your plants.
You may want to grow peas in containers together with turnips, radishes, and carrots as doing so can help in improving the growth habit of peas. In case you are using big containers when growing peas, cultivating leafy greens, like lettuce, spinach, and celery, along with them is also beneficial.
Note, though, that in companion planting, there are also certain plants you should avoid. Do not plant and grow peas close to chives, garlic, and onions. The reason is that such combinations may only cause your peas to experience stunted growth.
Caring for your Pea Plants
After you have successfully planted the peas, either directly in the raised bed garden or in a container, it is time to ensure that the plants receive all the care and maintenance that they need. Focus on the following areas when trying to give your peas the best care possible.
One great thing about peas is that they are capable of tolerating various sunlight conditions. They can grow even with only a partial shade.
Note, though, that for the growing peas to assure you of an abundant and bountiful harvest, focus on planting and cultivating them in an area that exposes them to 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
It is also advisable to give the peas sufficient amounts of water. You need to water them to ensure that you grow peas successfully. It would be best for you to water your pea plants deeply and regularly. This is especially true during the time when you are still trying to establish them in your garden.
As a guide, you should water the pea plants deeply once every week. You can increase that in case the plant is exposed to extremely warm weather. The goal here is to not let the soil dry out completely as it can significantly affect the crop. However, you should also avoid making the peas sit in too much water as it may only lead to rotting.
What’s great about peas is that they are highly flexible and versatile. This specific quality is the reason why they are capable of adapting to various types of soil, provided the mix is not clay-like nor super heavy.
If you want to maximize the results of planting and growing peas, make it a point to use a loamy and well-draining soil blend with a high compost or organic matter content. When the pea vines are already around one to two feet tall, use a straw to mulch them heavily. This should help in retaining the coolness of the soil and its moisture.
Humidity and Temperature
Growing peas also means that you should be able to provide them with a mild environment that has a temperature ranging from 65 to 70 degrees F. If you begin to grow your peas in your outdoor garden, then make sure that the temperature is consistent at around 45 degrees F. This supports proper seed germination.
Also, note that when the weather becomes too hot consistently, there is a high chance for the vines of your pea to stop producing. In terms of humidity, you can rest assured that the peas do not have any special requirements.
Fertilizer applications are not extremely required for the thriving and survival of your pea plants. This is especially true if you plant them in soil rich in nutrients and has plenty of organic matter and compost. However, if you truly wish to give the plants an additional boost, apply a balanced liquid fertilizer upon the first emergence of seedlings.
If you decide to grow peas in a pot or container, then you are probably aware that they need plenty of watering. In that case, you also need to mulch, which is effective in conserving moisture in the soil.
For you to mulch, use organic matter, like straw or grass clippings. Just spread a thin layer of it above the top soil.
Harvesting and Storing Peas
It is actually simple and easy to harvest peas. You just have to pick the sweet peas as often as possible once they mature. More frequent picking also translates to the production of more peas that you can harvest.
Note, though, that when picking, you do not do it similar to when you pick beans. The reason is that pea pods are stronger and sturdier compared to beans. With that in mind, use one hand when pulling the pod out of the plant and another hand as a means of securing the plant.
Avoid picking with just one hand as it may put you at risk of pulling out the plant from the ground. Upon picking the harvest, store and preserve it using the following methods:
Storing in your fridge
Just toss the harvested peas in your refrigerator and you can expect them to last for around 5 to 7 days.
You may also want to freeze peas. It is even possible to freeze those that are in the pods, especially if the peas you are growing are those with edible pods, allowing you to eat them. However, if your chosen variety does not come with any edible pods, then shelling peas before freezing is a must.
Another method is cleaning and blanching the peas before freezing. By doing that, you do not have to exert too much effort to thaw them before cooking.
If you are one of those who intend to use your harvested peas when preparing soups for the winter, then the best way to store and preserve them is through drying. Just make sure that you follow the drying methods recommended for each pea type or variety that you have in your garden.
Canning your harvested peas may not be an easy task. The reason is that it involves shelling peas then cleaning them before you actually can them. Despite that, it is still rewarding as it can further increase their shelf life.
Common Issues and Problems
Just like when you are cultivating other plants, the process of growing peas is not also without problems and issues. You will encounter a few pea plant problems that may affect the growth of your pea plants, so you have to watch out for them.
Aphids are among the biggest threats to a lot of plants, including peas. The problem is that they tend to show up in almost all gardens. Once they show up, expect the tiny bugs to cause a lot of problems with the growth of your plants.
The bugs also tend to leave behind a kind of residue, which attracts more pests to come to your garden. One sign that these aphids are already affecting your plants is when their leaves get misshapen or discolored. It is also possible for you to see the actual sticky residue sitting on the plant.
In case there are aphids in your pea plants, spray them with water as a means of dislodging them from the leaves. Another method is to use flour to dust the plants. One more thing that you can do is to use neem oil or insecticidal soap with the goal of eliminating your problem with aphids.
Fusarium Wilt Fungus
This fungus may cause your plants to wilt, usually on only the side during the daytime. You will also notice the leaves of your peas turning yellow. If left undealt with, the fusarium wilt fungus may cause the whole plant to die or wilt and experience stunted growth.
To deal with this fungus, you have to make it a point to destroy the infected plants. You should also avoid using excessive amounts of nitrogen in the soil where you are growing peas.
If the soil you are using is acidic, consider increasing the pH level to 7.0. Moreover, you have to make sure that you grow peas that belong to the disease-resistant varieties. This should be able to help you avoid the problem with the fungus in the first place.
Disinfecting tools between each use and deciding to practice crop rotation most of the time can also help in avoiding this problem.
Mexican Bean Beetles
Your pea plants may also be infested with the insect called Mexican bean beetles. When these insects invade your plants, expect their leaves to become skeletonized and lacey. You will also notice dark holes in your pea pods.
You can deal with this problem by removing them by hand. It is also advisable to buy a beneficial wasp and release it during the time when you are still observing the beetle larvae. In the case of severely infested pea plants, destroying them may be necessary.
This kind of fungus may also significantly affect the growth of your peas. You will know that your peas are infested with powdery mildew if you notice some white spots on the upper surfaces of their leaves that tend to expand to a coating resembling a flour over the whole leaves.
There is also a high likelihood of the foliage yellowing or dying. Moreover, the flowers or leaves of your pea plants may get stunted or distorted.
To handle this problem, destroy all the infected plants and leaves. Pick disease-resistant plant varieties, too. You can also prevent powdery mildew from developing if you plant and grow peas in full sun and an area with excellent air circulation.
In case the powdery mildew infests your plants, spray the affected parts with one quart of water that also has one teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in it. Removing the infected part of the plant from your garden and destroying it can also help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do peas need to climb?
Yes. When properly and correctly grown, expect the peas to climb up and reach around 6 to 8 feet high. This makes it necessary to set a sturdy and tall support system, like a trellis so it can continue to grow upwards.
Peas are capable of climbing around one-inch tendrils. This is to the point that they will also have the capacity to wrap around objects with a thickness that is less than one-quarter-inch.
How long will peas take to grow?
It usually takes around 60 to 70 days for the main season peas to get into your table and your stomach after planting them. Quality peas you can grow for later harvest are those that can handle high temperatures and continue to deliver excellent performance. Such pea varieties are perfect when planted in the late spring.
How do you take care of a pea plant?
Caring for the pea requires you to give it all the things and elements it needs to survive. For instance, you need to provide the peas with sufficient sun. You also need to water them adequately.
Note, though, that the water required by peas is just sparse. It should be less than an inch every week unless you notice that the pea plants are starting to wilt.
While it is not advisable to encourage your peas to rot, you should not also allow them to dry out completely. The reason is that this will stop the production of pods.
How many peas will one plant produce?
One pea plant is capable of providing around two to four ounces of peas. This is equivalent to thirty pods or so from each plant.
Peas are among the best additions to your soups, stir-fries, sauté dishes, casseroles, and pasta. Their cooking times will differ significantly depending on the time you harvested the peas. The good news is that since you grow them on your own, especially the green peas, they will definitely taste better than the ones you buy at grocery stores.