How to Grow Spring Peas

One of the great events in my spring vegetable garden is when the garden peas are ready for picking. These peas are one of my favorite treats, but because of my region’s hot summer climate (mid-South, Zone 8) I can only grow them in the spring. Of course, this limitation just adds to their desirability.

There are actually 3 types of peas that I grow in spring – English or shell peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas. English peas are the type you shell, sugar snaps and snow peas have an edible pod.

I sow the seeds directly in the garden about 6 weeks before the last frost date, which is usually around mid to late February in central Arkansas where I live. I wait until the soil is workable and warms to about 45 degrees F. If the soil is too cool or damp the seeds will pout and not germinate. A few weeks later I’ll follow up with potted plants to extend the harvest season. Unless you have extremely poor sandy soil, peas will probably be okay without much fertilizer as they grow because the plants are able to “fix” nitrogen from the air to feed themselves.

Peas will tolerate a frost but the blooms and young pods are susceptible to freezing temperatures. If a late frost is in the forecast, cover the plants overnight.

Some varieties stay compact and don’t need a trellis. These are an excellent choice for containers and small space gardens. Others that mature into a large vine need support. It doesn’t take much; a simple teepee made from discarded branches will do the trick.