Green Pea Growing Guide
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Green Peas Growing Guide

How to Classify Peas

Do you call them fresh peas, green, peas, garden peas, or just plain ole peas? Unlike the Southern cowpea that we know here at HOSS, this guide is going to cover the other kind of peas; green peas. Fresh peas are one of the garden’s most beloved treats. The sweet pods have been around for centuries and are rich in vitamins, minerals, and have an unmatched flavor when grown in the home garden.

Pea plants take little effort and are one of the first crops that can go in the ground in early Spring and can be planted again in the Fall for a wonderful Winter harvest. Because they’re able to be planted so early, and because of their relatively short maturity dates, pea plants are among the first vegetables to be harvested, leaving behind nitrogen-rich soil and kicking off the Spring and Summer growing season. First, choosing the variety you want to grow is the most important. Peas can be broken down into 3 basic categories.

Snow Peas

Snow Peas typically have flat, stringless, edible pods that contain small peas inside and can be eaten whole. Most snow peas have a bushy, compact growth habit and the pods can be eaten raw or cooked.

Snap Peas

Snap peas have full size edible pods with large peas inside and can be harvested while immature and eaten whole or left on the vine and harvested only for the full sized plump peas inside. Snap peas are vining and use tendrils to climb.

English Peas

Also known as Green Peas, Garden Peas or Sweet Peas, the inedible pods contain round seeds (peas) that are harvested and the fibrous pods are discarded. Sweet peas also have climbing tendrils and benefit from trellising.

Our Favorite Peas to Grow

When to Plant Peas

Pea plants grow best when direct-seeded outdoors and don’t transplant well because they don’t like having their roots disturbed. Peas take between 60 and 70 days to fully mature are a cold-hardy plant that can survive a heavy frost or even snow. Peas are one of the first things that can be sown directly in the garden during early Spring but also make a great Fall crop because of their frost tolerance.

Can You Grow Peas In Containers?

Peas are actually a perfect vegetable to grow in containers. They don’t take up a lot of space, don’t need much maintenance, and will supply you with a surprisingly large harvest with not a lot of work. Pea plants don’t have a very deep root system so as long as your container is at least 8″ – 12″ deep to account for their roots, you can get a nice harvest off of just one container. Because they benefit from close seed spacing, peas can be planted really close together in your container, at least 1″ apart, depending on your container size. Most peas are climbing or vining so giving them a trellis, cage, or placing your container near a spot they can stretch their vines will keep them happy.

Did you know?

Not only are peas great for fixing Nitrogen in your soil, they are also highly beneficial for attracting pollinators to the garden. Flowers can vary in color and may be pink, red, purple, white, or blue. They bloom in late spring and summer and even through the fall in cool climates.

Pea Plant Spacing

Hoss Garden Seeder For Efficient Planting

Maximizing Space

When choosing a spot to grow peas, full sun is always recommended. Be careful not to over-plant your indeterminate pea plants and only trellis as high as you can pick because they can easily take over and become too difficult to manage and harvest. Using the HOSS Garden Seeder makes planting the right amount of peas much faster and easier.

Peas perform very well when planted on double rows. Plant two rows about 6″ apart, then skip over 4-6′ and plant another double row. This will allow you to maximize garden space and produce more vegetables per square foot of garden.

Peas tend to fall over because of their heavy pods so even on some smaller bush varieties, a small 2′-3′ trellis will help support them.

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing – 30 to 36 inches
Plant Spacing – 3 to 4 inches
Planting Depth – 1 inch

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing – 2 feet
Plant Spacing – 3 to 4 inches
Planting Depth – 1 inch

Granular Garden Soil Inoculant

Inoculate Your Soil

If you have never previously grown legumes in the spot you choose to grow peas, we recommend using our Garden Soil Inoculant during planting to boost nitrogen fixation in your soil and boost performance. The inoculant contains millions of live rhizobacteria that will maximize yield benefits by out-competing the indigenous rhizobia for root nodulation.

Pea Plant Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements to Grow Pea Plants

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 6.8
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

Peas use naturally occurring bacteria in soil called rhizobacteria to get nitrogen from the air and then feed this nitrogen to the plants. In return, pea plants then feed carbohydrates back to the bacteria. This relationship is extremely beneficial for soil health because planting peas helps to “fix” the nitrogen levels in your garden for future plantings.

HOSS always recommends getting a soil sample to your local extension office several weeks before planting. Once you get your results, you will need plenty of time to adjust your soil accordingly and make sure your plants are getting the best nutrients possible as soon as they hit the ground.

Click here to find your local extension office.

Pea Plant Irrigation Requirements

Pea plants need at least 1″ of water per week during their growing season. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your peas are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques for containers or raised beds, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

4 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

4 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cups of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 25 ft. of row.

Pea Plant Pest & Disease Protection


Organic Controls

Spinosad Garden Insect Spray
Thrips, Army Worms, Leaf Miners

Neem Oil

Horticultural Oil
Aphids, Stinkbugs, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies

Monterey BT

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Army Worms, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies

Diatomaceous Earth

Non-Organic Controls

Bug Buster II
Aphids, Horn Worms, Stinkbugs, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips, Leaf Miner

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Crop Rotation and Select Resistant Varieties
Fusarium Root Rot, Bacterial Blight, Mosaic

Non-Organic Controls

Liquid Copper Fungicide
Bacterial Blight

Garden Phos
Pythium, Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew

Fungi Max
Powdery Mildew

Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide
Botrytis Blight, Gray Mold

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Peas

When & How To Harvest Peas

Pick peas before the pods become too large and eventually turn waxy. Be careful not to damage the peas or pods and be sure to inspect for any diseases or pests. If you see any compromised pods, be sure to discard them to avoid any issues while storing.

Depending on the variety of peas you are growing, harvesting is relatively simple. The only real variations are how often you pick the beans through the season and at what stage of maturity.

The main thing to remember about harvesting peas is that you should never let them get too large. They mature very quickly and need to be harvested often so that they don’t get too large and inedible.

Snow peas should be harvested when the delicate pods and you can see the immature seeds inside. Harvest snap peas when the pods become plump, yet are still glossy and the peas are still sweet.

Storing & Preserving Peas Properly

Fresh peas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a perforated plastic bag. They need plenty of moisture and humidity so that they don’t dry out while in storage. Peas make an excellent candidate for freezing and will keep their sweet flavor even after blanched and frozen. If you do wait too long and your peas have gotten too large, don’t throw them out! While they may not taste as good cooked on their own, over mature peas make great additions to winter soups and are a great source of protein.

Peep Our Peas!

Pea Plant Growing Tips & Tricks

The Plant That Keeps On Giving

As you’ve learned, legumes are an extremely good source of Nitrogen, a vital part of good, healthy soil. Once you’ve harvested all of your peas, add the rest of the plant, stems, leaves, and all, to your compost pile. These nutrient-rich plants added to compost help make a great alternative to inorganic fertilizers. But be careful not to add any plants that you suspect have been infected with diseases or pests.

Pick Your Peas In The Morning

Pea pods are the most crisp in the morning right after the morning dew has dried up. Don’t wait until the hot afternoon to harvest to make sure they have the best texture and flavor.

How Green Is Your Thumb?

Legend has it that the phrase “green thumb” came from King Edward I of England, who had a love of green peas so much that he had at least six servants shelling peas during the season. The servant who had the greenest thumb won a prize!

Planting Mr. Big Pea
in Raised Beds

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