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Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Peas

A Guide to Gardening, Growing and Harvesting Edibles

-- By Jenny Sigler, SparkPeople Contributor

Peas are easy to grow; once established, they require little more than watering and harvesting. There are several types of peas, including shelling, snap, snow and sugar pod peas.

Hardiness Zones:
5-11 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
Directly sow seeds between late winter and early spring, a month before your last frost date. Plant seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep and 1 inch apart in single or double rows. 

Conditions:
Peas require full sun to partial shade. Loamy, rich soils are best, but peas will tolerate all soils except clay.

Space Needed:
Allow 18 to 24 inches between single or pairs of rows. Allow 8 to 10 inches between double rows in pairs. Vertical space varies by variety, but most peas grow at least 3 feet high.

Maintenance:
In the hottest part of the summer, you may have to provide some shade for peas. Peas need a support but will find their way up any trellis on their own without training. Add additional soil or mulch around the peas during the hottest part of the summer to keep roots cool and maximize water retention. They require no extra fertilization. Consider using a legume inoculate to boost production.

When to Harvest:
Harvest time varies by variety, so consult your seed packet. Inspect the pods by breaking one of them open. Those that are ready for harvest will contain healthy peas that have a nice sheen, are bright green, and are fully developed (one exception is snow peas because the entire pod is edible and will not contain "swollen" peas). Peas are most delicious when picked very shortly before consumption. Snow peas are ready 5-7 days before flowering. Harvest peas every few days for up to three weeks after the initial harvest.

Average Yield:
A 6-foot row of shelling peas will yield about 5 pounds over the season; all other varieties will produce about 6 pounds for every 6-foot row.

Continuous Yield:
No

Life Cycle:
Annual

Difficulty Rating (1-5):
2

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