I love growing peas! I never cook or preserve any of the peas we grow. We eat them in the garden, fresh off the plant, and it is the best treat in Spring. I will grow Sugar Snap type peas until I can’t garden anymore. Let’s get into what you need to know.
Type: Shelling, Snap, and Snow. Shelling are the kind where you sit down with your pea pods and open each one up to harvest the individual peas inside (like the header photo). Snap are the kind you can eat whole without shelling. Snow are the type you see used in stir-frys, these are also eaten whole but tend to be flatter with smaller peas inside.
Time to Maturity: Between 50-60 days is pretty standard for peas. Snow peas can run a bit longer, nearer 65 days. Some English shelling types can be closer to 70 days so just be sure to know what you are ordering!
Diseases & Pests: Downy Mildew, Fusarium Wilt, Powdery Mildew, and slew of viruses that I’ve not experienced, but many of which are aphid transmitted.
Key Words: Sweet and juicy are the two most important key words to me, for what is a pea of it isn’t sweet or juicy? Size indicators are going to be important (obviously) depending on how much space you have. There are loads of types that are quite short, so you can grow peas just about anywhere. Some varieties mention ease of harvest, I’m still not 100% sure what that means as I think peas are pretty easy to pick, but maybe one of you has some insight on that?
Other Considerations: Most pea varieties (all but the dwarf types) will require some sort of support. Anything from wigwams, traditional flat trellises, or netting. Just be sure you have your vertical supports well and truly anchored and mind your primary wind direction- I find running my supports and rows perpendicular to the prevailing wind location means less chance of toppled supports and broken vines. I learned this the hard way!
Use: I don’t know what you’d do with them other than eat them fresh!?! I kid, I kid. You can certainly blanch and freeze them or use them in quick-cooking dishes, but we just enjoy them so much straight off the vine that ours never make it inside.
My Favorites/What I’ve Grown in the Past: I’ve only grown Snap type peas, and my stalwart is Dwarf Grey Sugar Snap. This is a strong variety with great growing habit, good yields, and tender, juicy, sweet pees and pods. I very much recommend this one.
I’ve also grown the Sugar Magnolia Tendril Pea, but wasn’t terribly impressed with either the yield or the growing habit. The tendrils, when tender, can be a lovely addition to salads though!
What I’ll Try Next Year: I’ve grown Dwarf Grey Sugar for 7 years now, so this year I’m going to mix it up and try both Cascadia and Sugarsnap. Sugarsnap is taller (5′ vs Cascadia’s 3′) but both are said to have fantastic flavor, sweetness, and yields. I’ll report back this summer!
What varieties do you grow, how do you support your peas, and what do you like to do with them if they make it out of the garden uneaten?