Sweet peas are easy to grow and take up very little space in the garden. If you’re already growing a spring or fall garden, tuck a few pea seeds along the fence and let them do their thing.
Growing sweet peas in the garden
Peas are my favorite thing to grow. They are sweet and fresh and delicious raw or cooked. They only take up a few inches of garden space and will trellis on whatever’s around.
Types of peas
There are three types of peas. Snow peas, snap peas and English peas. Snow peas are flat and eaten whole with the pod. They are used in stir fry and Asian cooking quite a bit. Snap peas or sweet peas are plump and you can eat them in the pods, but can also open the pods and just eat the peas. Generally, the peas you buy in the grocery store in a can or frozen are English peas. They are also called shelling peas. They are plump but the pods are not edible.
Snap peas vs snow peas
Snap peas or sweet peas and snow peas both have an edible pod. However, snow peas remain flat and don’t plump up. Their pods are flat and are usually sliced up with the peas inside for cooking. They are also delicious raw. Snap peas or sweet peas are also edible in the pod and can be sliced up for cooking, but they have round, plump peas inside that are super sweet. I like any kind of peas any way they come.
When to plant peas
Peas are one of the first things to grow in the spring. In Oklahoma, zone 7, we plant peas in January and February. You can also plant them in the fall around September, but if it stays hot for too long, you won’t have time to harvest any peas. You need to get them in the ground 4-6 weeks before your last frost date in spring.
To plant peas, amend your soil with some good compost. Plant peas near something for them to climb on about ½ inch to 1 inch deep and about 2 inches apart.
Sweet peas, snow peas, and English peas do not need a lot of water. Don’t let them get completely dry, but they don’t need regular watering.
Sweet peas and other peas need something to climb. You can use chain link fence or other trellis, but keep in mind they need trellis that goes across and not up and down. They swing their tendrils out and grab onto something above them.
We have great pea trellis in our preschool garden made from cattle panels.
When to harvest peas
Peas are ready to harvest when they are nice and plump. If you’re picking snow peas, they are ready any time, but let them get a few inches long so you get more from your plant.
Keep the sweet peas and snow peas picked from your vines to encourage more production. Always hold onto the vine when pulling the pea so you don’t break the vine. You can also cut the peas off with scissors. Most of our peas never make it in from the garden. They are so good and tempting, we can’t wait!
Growing peas in containers
Peas are great for container growing because they have tender shallow roots. Use a pot at least 12 inches across but the bigger the better, just like growing any other vegetable.
Freezing snap peas
Sweet peas and snow peas do not last long once harvested. You can keep them in the refrigerator for about a week. Peas freeze wonderfully. Just wash them, drop them in a pot of boiling water for about two minutes and then into a bowl of ice water. Once the peas have cooled, take them out and dry them well. Then package in an airtight container and freeze.
Peas are one of the most fun things to grow in the garden. Try growing some and enjoy the freshest, sweetest snack you can imagine.
For more how to grow posts, check out how to grow carrots, how to grow great tomatoes, how to grow beans, how to grow peppers, how to grow potatoes, how to grow sweet potatoes, how to grow radishes, or how to grow kohlrabi and more on the blog.
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