Common Name: Peas
Days to Harvest:
You can also eat the tender first shoots or even the vines and tendrils themselves in soups and stir fries.
- Mint and peas are a classic combination.
- Dill makes an unexpected complex combination.
- Bacon and pancetta play nicely off peas sweetness.
- A squirt of lemon retains the green freshness of homegrown peas
- Peas complement any starch - potatoes, rice, pasta...
- "Alderman" or "Tall Telephone" has been a popular heirloom variety for many generations
- "Golden Sweet" is a buttery yellow heirloom with edible pods and a great crunch.
- "Lincoln" another tall heirloom has good heat resistance and does well in the south
- "Little Marvel" is a popular early producing dwarf variety
- "Mammoth Melting Sugar" is a reliable disease resistant snow pea
There is a tradition of planting the first peas on St. Patrick's Day. You can plant in spring, as soon as the soil can be worked, however an early planting will not necessarily germinate any earlier than if you wait for the ground to warm. Peas are a cool weather crop, but they don't like soil that is cold or wet. The seeds can survive a frost, but not the plants. So a fall crop can be iffy unless there is about two months between summer heat and fall frost. Southern gardeners can plant the seeds in the fall and wait for them to germinate in the warm days of spring. Once temperatures steady at 70 degrees F., pea plants begin slowing down and die.
You will sometimes see peas and beans sold with a bacteria inoculant that forms nitrogen converting nodules on the roots of legumes and helps in starting plants. The inoculant can't work if the seeds have already been treated with a fungicide to prevent rot. The fungicide is a bright pink, to alert you that it is there. Peas also do best with a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5.
All types of peas need some type of support while growing trellising can be done with fencing, mesh, bushy cut tree and shrub branches or other plants. Because of the trellising, peas are usually planted in rows or bands of about 3-4 inches. Cover the seed with only an inch or two of soil and firm.
Extend your harvest season by re-planting in 2 week successions. Or plant pea varieties that mature at different rates. To keep harvesting as long as possible, plant an early season variety, a main season type and maybe even a heat tolerant late season pea.
If space in the vegetable garden is a consideration, there are low growing, attractive varieties that can be included in the flower garden. The vines will need to be removed after harvest, when they begin to turn brown.
Pest & ProblemsThe biggest problem of pea plants is root rot, which causes the foliage to turn brown and die. Insuring the soil is well-drained and rotating your pea crop each year will help.
Peas are also susceptible to powdery mildew in humid weather. If this is a problem, look for resistant varieties.