Successful Pea Growing

Fresh, green peas are the first sign of spring.

For a small investment in time, you can have homegrown peas for meals and freezing. If you don’t eat them all right off the vine! 

What Do You Want to Know About Peas?

Choose the Right Pea Variety for Your Needs

Peas come in three types –  Garden (or shelling), Snap and Snow peas.

With Garden peas, the pod is discarded and the peas are eaten. They are picked when the pea is just visible through the pod.

For Snap peas, the entire pod with the peas are eaten. Pick when the pod is tender and the peas are still small.

Snow peas are picked when the peas inside are tiny. If the pod turns yellow, you waited too long. 


Where should I plant my peas?

  • in a well drained area
  • in soil with some organic material
  • in heavy clay, grow in mounds
  • avoid areas with too much nitrogen
  • have the ground prepared the fall before,
    if possible
  • full sun 

How Do I Prepare Raised Beds for Peas?

In many gardens, a raised bed for peas is a great idea because the bed is drier and warmer in the spring than the ground.

Ideally, the bed should have loose soil 12 inches deep. A minimum of 6 to 8 inches is required for peas.   

Avoid filling the bed with only ordinary garden or top soil, because the surface will crust over
and the bed will dry out faster. 

Add potting mix, garden compost and a bit of sand.
Mix 1 part organic matter (peat moss, compost, etc.) to 1 part sand or perlite to 2 parts soil.

Be careful of too much nitrogen. A 5-20-20 fertilizer is a better choice. 

Can I Grow Peas in Pots?


Select a short variety and plant in a 5 gallon pot or barrel.

Snap and Snow peas are the best option.

Depending on the variety, 3 to 5 peas can be grown in this size container

Use potting soil.

The potted peas may require more water and fertilizer than the in ground or bedded plants. But be careful not to water too much or add large amounts of nitrogen. 

How About Growing in the Ground?

It’s best to prepare the ground in the fall, so you can plant as early as possible in the spring.

Year One – test the soil to find out what nutrients need to be added.

Apply four pounds of 5-20-20 fertilizer for every 100 square feet of soil.

Year Two – In the spring,

Mix one pound of fertilizer into the soil before planting. Apply the rest along the rows after planting.
Don’t put fertilizer directly on the pea seeds. 

How Do I Plant Peas?

  • Plant as early as the ground can be worked or the soil is 45 degrees F or warmer.
  • Plant 1 to 2 inches deep, about 2 inches apart.
  • Double rows grow better in windy areas.  
  • A second row double row can be planted two feet away for varieties that grow without support. 4 to 6 feet away for trellised peas.
  • A second crop can be planted in the middle of July in the North.
  • Water the seeds in.
  • Mulch to keep the soil cool.
  • Soaking the seeds 24 hours before planting for faster germination.

Getting the most peas

Provide 1-2 inches of water per  week. 

Fertilize with a 5-20-20 product in the spring.

If you have a short growing season, choose peas with short maturity dates.

In the spring, try planting a few peas every three weeks to prolong the season. 

Treat peas with a Rhizobium inoculant in areas where peas or beans haven’t been grown.

For climbing peas, add a trellis at seeding.

How do I Trellis My Peas?

Use a section of fence or chicken wire.

Use branches set deeply into the ground.

Run twine between posts horizontally, with twine hanging off for the peas to grab.

Train peas on a pole as you would beans


When Do I Harvest Peas?

Usually 65 to 80 days after planting

Garden peas and Snap peas are ready when the pods are expanded but before the peas are starchy.

Snow Peas are harvested when the pods are still flat.

Best if used or processed immediately. 

If you take care of your plants, you can look forward to tons of peas.

A 100’ row of garden peas will yield around 40 pounds of peas,
while the same length row of sugar snaps or snow peas can yield 65+ pounds of pods
over a three to four week harvest period.