How to Grow Peas:

growing peas in the garden, home grown peas, harvesting and preserving peas, Peas are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in recorded history. We are not entirely sure where they originated. Early on, peas were primarily dried before for using in soups and stews. During the dark ages they proved to be a staple for peasants who could buy dried, field peas cheaply.  That is where the little rhyme came from:

Pease Porridge hot, Pease Porridge cold

Pease porridge in the pot nine days old

As the pea spread across the world, new varieties developed like the snow pea and the standard garden pea. Peas are a cooler weather plant and do best in the spring, but can also have another harvest in the fall when the weather starts to cool down.

Very few things bring more joy and satisfaction than eating fresh-out-of-the-garden peas.  They are easy to grow, add a vertical element to the garden and are high in vitamin’s A, B, and C.  It is a must for any home garden.

Nutritional Information:

Planting and Growing Peas:

Growing peas, eating peas, how to grow peas, Peas are very easy to grow.  One week before planting, sprout peas indoors. Sprouting gives the peas a head start and allows you to determine which plants will be the strongest and healthiest.  Spread peas so they are not touching one another on a damp paper towel, laid out on a cookie sheet.  Cover them with another damp paper towel and set on the kitchen counter. Spray them with water every day to keep the paper towels moist. When sprouts and a single root appear, they are ready to sow outdoors.

Sow peas as soon as the soil can be worked, up to 8 weeks before the last frost.  They can be planted close together, about 2 to 3 inches apart. They don’t usually require fertilization because they have the ability to produce their own nitrogen from the bacteria in the soil. Sometimes seeds will need to be dipped in an inoculative solution before sowing to make sure that the nitrogen-fixing bacteria will be in the soil.

Peas require steady moisture, but early on, Mother Nature takes care of much of the watering.  Start watering when spring soils begin to dry.  At the same time soils dry, spread a 3-inch (7 cm) layer of mulch around plants to retain moisture, and insulate the soil from heat.

Peas should be trellised against a fence, some chicken wire, or on twine attached to poles on either end of the row.  They have tendrils which hold the plant onto the trellis so they don’t need to be tied or weaved.  They are aggressive growers and can produce a significant amount of peas.  No doubt though, most peas will never make it into the house.

Harvest and Preserving Peas:

Snow peas need to be picked as soon as the pod reaches mature length of a few inches. Be sure to pick them before the peas develop inside. Check them daily, as the peas tend to mature quickly.

Garden peas should be picked when they are filled out, but before the pod is bulging. Check them often while they are fruiting, otherwise, overripe peas will lose their sweetness.

Sweet peas are best harvested when the peas inside the pod are plumb and bulging. They are great eaten in stir fry or fresh off the vine.

After harvesting peas, be sure to use them within a few days or freeze them that day.

Peas can be frozen either shelled or in the pod.  For shelled peas, pack in 1 pint boilable, freezer bags, press out air and seal. Then, place the bags in a pot of boiling water to blanch for 4 minutes. Cool before placing them in the freezer. They are excellent used cooked, steamed in the bag, or taken out of the freezer and put in a salad a few minutes before serving.

If you are freezing snow peas or sweet peas in the pod, first wash and trim the peas.  Steam blanch them for 2 to 4 ½ minutes, then put in ice water to cool.  Pat dry and place in the freezer on a tray for 12 to 24 hours. When they are frozen, pack them in freezer bags and place back in the freezer.

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