Friday, February 26, 2016


Much like my experience with beans... the bland, canned peas of my early years have yielded to fresh, flavorful green gems grown in our fertile gardens. 

Peas grow well in cool weather.    

So, yes, peas grow well here in Sitka. 

There is more than one type of pea. Let's look at the most common three:


The most familiar type is the shelling pea. Open the mature pod and remove the peas. Eat the peas, not the pod. This variety of pea is often enjoyed fresh off the plant as a snack and added to salads. Shelled peas are added to a vast array of cooked meals. If they are not all gobbled up soon after harvest, shelled peas are easily canned, frozen or pickled.

Some of the shelling peas we have grown and enjoyed are: 

  • ALDERMAN (TELEPHONE POLE) - With the best of all flavors, these plants are 8 feet tall and need support.
  • CANOE - 2 1/2 feet tall. Semi-leafless means good air circulation. The curved pods are loaded with more peas than most varieties. 
  • GREEN ARROW - 2 feet tall. Pods are paired like twins! 
  • MAESTRO - 2 feet tall. The pods reach out from the plant when mature.
  • SERGE - 2 1/2 feet tall. Semi-leafless and self supporting!

Highly productive, snap pea plants grow lots of edible pods. Yes. Pick and eat the entire thing! When the peas inside the pod plump up and mature, so does the pod! Snap peas are deliciously sweet when picked and eaten fresh off the plant or when lightly cooked. I especially love snap peas pickled with garlic and dill.

Some of the snap peas we have grown and enjoyed are:

  • CASCADIA - 2 to 3 feet tall. Unusually sweet.
  • SUGAR ANN - Dwarf, sweet and self supporting.
  • SUGAR DADDY - 2 feet tall and self-supporting.
  • SUGAR LACE - Dwarf, semi-leafless and self supporting.
  • SUPER SUGAR SNAP - 5 feet tall. Unusually productive.

As with snap peas, eat the sweet and tender pod and all! Unlike snap peas, the peas stay small inside the pod at maturity and the pods are flat. Snow peas are easy to grow and highly productive. Snow peas are eaten most often in salads and stir fries.

Some of the snow peas we have grown and enjoyed are:

  • MAMMOTH MELTING SUGAR - 4 to 5 feet tall.
  • OREGON GIANT - 2 1/2 feet tall. The pod is giant!
  • OREGON SUGAR POD II - 2 to 3 feet tall. Highly productive.


Growing peas is simple and fun. 

Sometime in spring (we like mid-April) prepare an outdoor garden area for your peas. Some people start peas as early as March and others as late as July. Depending on the variety, maturity will be 60 to 90 days after your pea seeds sprout.

Peas like good drainage, composted organic matter, neutral soil (around a pH of 7) and one of your sunniest locations.

We had to do lots of terracing over the years in our steep yard in order to create garden beds. Consequently, we have lots of fencing. When choosing a location, keep in mind that most pea plants need to be supported or tied up to fences, trellises etc. Some pea varieties are self-supporting. Here is an example:

Self-supporting pea plants grow lots of tendrils. The tendrils attach the pea plants to each other and fences with no help from people!

Once your ground is prepared, choose your peas. It gives the peas you are planting a boost if you soak the peas a few hours, or overnight, in water that is room temperature:

After the peas have soaked, drain off the water. They are ready to plant. 

I removed the fencing temporarily from the area where I intend to plant the peas. This is not necessary, but it made the process more convenient and accessible for me. I am planting the peas so plants will grow on both sides of the fence. 

I dug two shallow ditches, about 1 1/2 inches deep on either side of the fence line. 

I sprinkled the peas, not all that carefully, into the two ditches. I will spread and space them when I cover the seeds with soil.

On hands and knees, I spaced the pea seeds about 1 inch apart and covered them with the surrounding soil. They like to be planted down about 1 inch under the soil.

Once covered with soil, I patted the soil down firmly over the pea seeds. Apparently, they like a little pressure for optimal germination and growth. Sprouts usually appear about 1 to 2 weeks later:

Gently water your peas regularly. They like to be kept moist, but not soaking wet. You don't really need to cover the peas with a floating row cover, but I usually do. This is not so much to keep them warm, but rather to keep out ravens, crows and other birds. If a bird spots an exposed pea seed or two, it can lead to a digging and feeding frenzy!!!

Plant growth is vigorous when conditions are right:

By mid-summer you will be snacking on peas!

We almost never have enough peas to freeze or pickle. It doesn't matter how many we grow. They are so delicious when fresh picked that they disappear in no time at all. 

Last summer we had a bumper crop. It was probably because it was an unusually warm summer. I pickled a case of peas before anyone but me got their hands on the last of the peas. They sure are tasty in winter!


No comments:

Post a Comment