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Peas are such a rewarding vegetable to grow. They are one of the earliest crops to mature in the spring and you can use them in all kinds of dishes. In fact, you can eat them right off the vine as a snack in the garden. And since they are legumes, they are as good for the soil as they are for people.
Peas are easy enough to grow. The most difficult part of growing peas is choosing what kind you want to grow. There are basically three types of peas: shelling peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. Each goes by multiple names, making the choice all the more confusing. But once you get the differences clear, you will probably want to grow some of each.
- Peas are a cool-season crop that must mature before the weather gets warm. The ideal growing temperature for peas is 13-21°C.
- Sow peas in the garden 6 weeks before the average last frost date in spring or as soon as the soil can be worked. (usually mid Aug to October in Tasmania depending on soil moisture)
Peas are weak-stemmed vining annuals with leaf-like stipules, leaves with one to three pairs of leaflets, and tendrils used for climbing. Peas grow 6 to 10 peas or seeds in a pod. Seeds are either smooth or wrinkled depending on the variety. Shelling, also called English peas, snap, also called sugar peas, are grown for the maturing seeds in the pods. These are harvested when pods are 10-15cm long and pods are bulging but before the pods begin to dry. Snap or sugar and snow peas are grown for their edible pods. These are harvested when pods are 4-6mm long and the peas inside are barely visible.
Site. Grow peas in rich, loamy soil that is well-drained. Peas will produce earlier if planted in sandy soil. Later crops can be planted in heavier, clay soil. Plant peas in full sun or partial shade. Peas prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Grow peas supported by poles, a trellis, or fence.
Sow pea seed 5cm deep, 5-7cm apart in double rows supported by a trellis, netting, or wire or string supports between two poles for bush varieties. Sow two seeds to each hole. Thin plants to 10cm apart. Space rows 45-60cm apart. Sow pole or vine varieties in a circle around a pole or stake. Sow seed 20-25cm from the pole and thin to the 8 strongest plants. Soak seed for 4 to 6 hours before sowing.