Garden Peas


Snow peas are best when the seeds are still tiny.


Peas in My Garden

I love planting peas in the garden. For many years we had rabbits eating them, so I rarely planted them anymore. In our new garden (well, going into the third year) we don’t seem to have as many pesky bunnies. So we ate lots of snap and snow peas fresh from the garden last summer. I was able to freeze a few too. But I didn’t grow any shelling peas and I love them! So I’ll be sure to get at least one row of those in the ground this spring.


Shelling, Snow, and Snap Peas

So what’s the difference between shelling, snap, and snow peas?

Shelling peas are best allowed to fill out until the seeds inside their pods have swollen and the pod is still fresh and green looking. Don’t wait until the pod starts to yellow, the peas will be starchy. Split the pod open and eat the peas inside raw (my fav) or cooked.

Snow peas are best eaten when the pods are young and the peas inside are still tiny. The whole pod is eaten raw or stir fried.

Snap peas can be eaten in either phase, but will have a thicker pod than snow peas. Snow peas and snap peas both should have the ‘string’ removed.



Snow peas have very thin pods. You can see the light through them.



Snap peas have thicker, smaller pods that can be eaten whole when young, or shelled for regular peas.



It’s more enjoyable to eat pea pods if the strings have been removed.


Planting Peas

I’m just starting to get out and work up my beds for planting. I’m hoping that this weekend will work out for planting a few of my cool weather seeds. I need to be careful not to rush the soil. It’s rather heavy clay so it needs to dry before I work it. I’m slowly improving it with compost from my lovely chicken flock. Let me tell you, 50+ hens produce a lot of compost! Much of it still needs to rot down another year before I use it in the garden, but most of the beds will get a nice application before I plant.


Peas love a rich humus soil and cool conditions. It’s best to plant them soon after you have the bed worked up in the spring. They may not germinate until the sun warms the soil, but they’ll be ready and raring to go when it does. You can germinate your peas indoors and plant them out, but that seems like a lot of work to me. So mine won’t get any special treatment. I have never used the Rhizobium bacteria inoculant touted for beans and peas. They have never really seemed to need it. These bacteria help the roots fix nitrogen for the plant to use, and is often present in healthy soil. An inoculant might be just the thing for beans and peas planted in soil that has very little microbial life in it. Soil that has been sprayed repeatedly with pesticides and chemical fertilizers is often low in microbial life and may need an inoculant for best results with your legumes. If you’ve been improving your soil with compost and organic fertilizers, your peas are unlikely to need inoculation.


New pea shoots



Pea plants like cooler weather and stop producing when the heat of summer arrives. Harvests can be stretched out a bit longer if the peas are planted north of a taller crop, such as corn or sunflowers. Keep the soil moist (but not soggy) and cool to keep the peas coming. A second crop of peas can be planted in the late summer or early fall to increase the harvest.



Raw pea pods add crunch and flavor to a salad.


Pea flowers, tendrils, young pods and the peas, of course, are all edible and taste great in salads and stir fries. I like blanching and freezing pea pods for winter use. I even like canned peas. I’m hoping to put up a lot more peas this year.

Shelled peas bring back fond memories of sitting on the porch shelling peas with my Grandmother.

What is your favorite kind of pea to plant in the garden?


Lisa Lombardo

Hi! I’m Lisa Lynn…modern homesteader and creator of The Self Sufficient HomeAcre. Follow my adventures in self reliance, preparedness, homesteading, and getting back to the basics.



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