Tag: peas

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.

In the Kitchen: Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap PeaA cross between snow and English peas, sugar snap peas are one of my favorite vegetables. They are crisp and sweet and the whole thing, pod and all, is edible.

Sugar snaps are one of the easiest vegetables to prepare. A few minutes in the saute pan or steamer is all it takes. You can even eat them raw!

When you purchase the peas look for those that are a nice bright green color with smooth skin.

To prepare them for eating, you sometimes have to remove the "strings". It is an easy process that I actually enjoy because it reminds me of sitting on my grandmother’s porch snapping green beans before cooking them for Sunday supper.

Here’s how you do it. Pinch off the very tip of the pea, getting a good hold on the string and pull the string down the side of the pod toward the other end. Now repeat the process with from the other end. That’s all there is to it. I’ve found that not all the peas have strings and I can often get by with just nipping the ends off with a knife, but that is not as much fun.

Sugar snaps are best eaten the day of purchase but they will stay fresh for about 3 days in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can also freeze them. Before you put them in the freezer, string and wash the peas and then blanche them for about 1 minute. Place them in freezer bags and they should last for about 1 year.

When eating them fresh, I like to steam the pods for about 3 minutes and then season them with a little butter, salt and pepper.