Updated: Aug 29
LIKE YOUR PEAS IN A POD? YOU’LL WANT THE ENGLISH VARIETY.
No doubt at some time or another, you’ve said “they are like two peas in a pod” to describe two people or things that are identical. But did you know that the “peas” being referenced are actually English (also called Garden or Snap peas), all of which are grown for the peas in their pod? These plump, rounded-shell peas are distinct from sugar or snow peas, which have flat green pods.
Peas in Pod
We’ve been eating peas for years – thousands in fact. Peas originated in western Asia and Eastern Europe and existed back in the Stone Age. Originally, these vining annuals (the tendrils of peas are used for climbing) were grown only for their dried seeds. However at the turn of the millennium; people also started eating them fresh. The word peas actually came from the Anglo Saxons who called them “pise,” and that word eventually became “pease.”
English Peas come in many varieties. Some of the more popular types for North Texas are Wando (shelling peas), Oregon Sugar Pod, and Snap varieties (Sugar Daddy, Sugar Snap, and Cascadia).
When to Plant
Peas are a cool weather crop that can withstand frost and mature before the weather warms up
The ideal growing temperature for English peas is 55 to 70 degrees F. In North Texas, the fall growing season usually starts in mid-September and continues into early November. Spring planting weather usually arrives in mid-January but plants need to be established by early March.
It’s best to plant them in a sunny spot. They will grow in the shade but the sugar content will be lower.
Peas need loose, loamy soil. If you have heavy clay or sandy soil, be sure to work in plenty of organic compost, along with expanded shale or lava sand to help prevent compaction and to retain moisture.
It’s also a good idea to work in some Texas Greensand or Azomite to enrich the mineral content of the soil. Other great soil additives for peas are earthworm castings and soft rock phosphate.
Growing from Seed
Marshall Grain recommends soaking seeds overnight in Liquid Seaweed prior to planting to stimulate germination and root development. One ounce of Maxicrop Liquid Seaweed concentrate makes 1 gallon of soaking solution. You can use the left-over seaweed solution to moisten the soil.
Plant your peas two inches deep and 2 to 3 inches apart in double rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Sow two seeds to each hole. Use a trellis or poles to support the vines. (Peas can be grown without a support; however they will grow and produce much better with support.) Cultivate peas gently to avoid harming the fragile roots.
Handle pea plants carefully to avoid damaging them.
Growing from Transplants
Pea vines are fragile as are the roots. Take care when removing them from their original container that you don’t damage them.
Always transplant from wet soil to wet soil. Marshall Grain recommends that you use Maxicrop Liquid Seaweedsolution in place of plain water. Before you remove the plant from its container, gently dip it in your seaweed mixture. Use the remaining seaweed solution to wet the planting hole.
Peas are sensitive to too much nitrogen, but they do like phosphorus and potassium, so choose a fertilizer such as Lady Bug Flower Power (4-6-4) or Espoma Garden tone (3-4-4). Remember N=Nitrogen, P=Phosphorous, and K= Potassium. Fertilize ever two to four weeks.
Keep soil moist (not wet) until the plants have established roots (usually about 1 week for transplants, longer for seeds). Then water sparsely unless the plants are wilting.
Pests and Diseases
Rot, wilt, blight, mosaic, and mildew are diseases that can destroy pea plants. To avoid root-rot disease, plant peas in well-drained soil. Also avoid handling vines when they are wet.
Weeds steal nutrients from your peas, so weed regularly. Again, since the plant is very fragile, do so carefully, trying not to uproot the plant or damage the vines.
Place a layer of mulch around the base of each plant about 1 to 3 inches thick to help insulate the plant and reduce weeds.
Anywhere from 55 to 80 days from sowing, peas will be ready for harvest (depending on the variety and weather conditions). Pick English peas when the pods are bulging and green and before the peas start to harden. Younger peas will be tastier than older ones.
Our team at Marshall Grain can help you get started with your pea planting. Stop in for your English peas and all the necessary organic gardening materials.
National Gardening Association: “Preparing to Plant Peas”
Harvest to Table: “How to Grow Peas: Garden, English, Snap Peas and Sugar and Snow Peas”
The Old Farmer’s Almanac: “Planting, Growing and Harvesting Pea Plants”
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