Spring has finally sprung! Now that the ground is no longer frozen we can start getting our green on! Peas are one of the first crops that can go in the ground in Seattle as they don’t mind the cold or the rain. They are quick to sprout and grow, which can be very satisfying at this time of year.
There are three different kinds of peas you can plant in your garden. The first are traditional garden peas, also known as English peas or shelling peas. They are the type many of us would buy in the grocery store. These peas plump up in their pods and are shelled (hence the name) before cooking. Be sure to wait until the peas are fully developed before you harvest.
The second are snow peas. These plants produce flat edible pods and do not require any shelling. They are sometimes referred to by their French name “mangetout” which means – “eat it all”. Since you don’t have to wait for the pods to fill out these can be picked as soon as they get to a desirable size and the more you harvest - the more peas the plant will produce.
The last type of pea is sugar snap peas. This varietal is a cross between the English peas and snow peas. The peas can be allowed to develop to a small size and the pods are crisp and edible.
Pre-sprout the pea seeds by putting them on a damp paper towel in a plastic bag on the counter. In about 5 days you will have small roots sprouting from the peas which gives them a head start when you plant them in the ground. This also lets you know which seeds are alive and worth planting.
Pea plants grow either as vines or as bush beans. If you have a fence or trellis to train your plants then a vining style that can grow up 6 feet tall might be for you. If you have a space without supports try a low growing or bush varietal that is 1-2 feet in height and can be supported by a few small stakes and string around the area.
If your spring peas are successful, don’t forget to mark the calendar to do a second planting after the heat of the summer has waned. Peas love our cool fall weather too and they replenish the soil with needed nitrogen after the summer vegetables have been harvested.