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5 Great Reasons to Grow Peas

By: Angela Judd
If you’ve never grown peas before, you should! Learn how to grow peas (and why they’re so great!) with tips from Angela Judd of Growing in the Garden.

Why you should grow peas

If you’ve ever eaten a pea fresh from the garden, I don’t need to convince you to grow peas. The sugar in peas begins turning into starch from the moment they are picked. Growing your own means you get the sweetest peas with the best taste. With so many reasons to grow peas, I’m sharing a few of my favorite reasons I grow peas here at Growing in the Garden.

Planting pea seeds in the garden: Getting ready to plant 'Little Marvel' peas in the spring.

1. You can plant peas earlier than most other seeds

Does anything signal the beginning of the growing season like garden-fresh peas? Peas are one of the first vegetables you can plant in the spring. Plant peas once the soil temperature reaches 40 to 45 degrees F. Peas thrive in cool weather, and young plants will tolerate light frosts. Once germinated, peas adapt well to the cold, damp climate of early spring; they love it.

Pea varieties you should try

'Sugar Daddy' snap peas
'Little Crunch' container snap peas
'Oregon Giant' edible pod snow peas

Purple garden peas: Garden peas like this purple 'Desiree Dwarf Blauwschokkers' are easy to grow.

2. Peas are easy to grow

Follow a few simple steps and you will be successful:

  • Start by choosing a disease-resistant variety of seed to plant.
  • Be sure to water them and provide a trellis for them to grow up.
  • Once your peas begin to produce, it’s important to harvest them often.

Pea shoots are edible: Here you can see the harvested pea shoots from 'Sugar Daddy' snap peas.

3. Almost every part of the pea plant is edible

Of course we know the peas themselves are delicious, but in many varieties such as snow peas and sugar snap peas, the pods are also edible. An often overlooked but delicious part of the pea plant is the pea shoot. The shoot is the tender tip of the vine which includes the leaves, stem, blossom and tendrils. They taste like peas, but with a flavor that is all their own.

Harvesting tip

To harvest shoots, follow the end of the vine with your eye to where it joins the stem. Right where it joins you will see a little green nub. Harvest the shoot right above it. That nub will turn into another shoot! Enjoy pea shoots fresh from the garden and in salads.

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Harvest of garden peas: Look at this great harvest of 'Little Marvel' peas.

4. The more you harvest the peas and the shoots, the more they produce

Sounds like a win-win to me. Whether you are harvesting the shoots or the peas, harvesting often encourages the plant to produce more. On the other hand, leaving peas on the pod too long signals to the plant to slow production as the plant thinks its job is complete because the produced seeds are still on the vine. By harvesting often, you remove the seeds and that sends a signal to the plant to produce more. While you are growing peas, you can often harvest some peas every day.

'Sugar Daddy' snap pea blossoms.: 'Sugar Daddy' snap pea blossoms.

5. Growing peas improves your soil

Most plants need nitrogen to grow, but peas are nitrogen-fixing plants: They draw the nitrogen gas from the air, and store it in their roots.

When the plants are finished producing and you’re ready to remove pea plants from your garden, be sure not to pull the roots out. Cut off the roots at ground level. As the roots decompose, the stored nitrogen is released into the soil, ready to be used by other plants.

I hope I’ve convinced you to give peas a try in your garden. If I haven't, find a local grower and eat some peas right out of the garden. That one taste will convince you!

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Published: March 5, 2019
Updated: Jan. 26, 2021

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