If you’re interested in farm-to-table gardening, you may be interested in more mainstream veggies like carrots or spinach. If you’re up for something less conventional, peas would be a great choice because of their versatility. They’re also easy to grow!
Peas are worth growing because they’re easy to cultivate and have a relatively high yield. If you have plans to sell or eat it, you’ll have an easy time growing it. However, if you don’t like peas much, you can skip them for something else.
You should never grow something you aren’t interested in eating (or selling) yourself. However, peas are so easy and cheap to grow that young gardeners might consider it a learning experience. Below, I’ll talk about the benefits and challenges of growing peas, things you should know before growing, and some basics about the different varieties.
Pea Varieties You Can Grow
Before asking yourself if peas are “worth” it to grow, you should learn about all the kinds you can grow in your garden. Even if you grew up with canned peas you weren’t a fan of, you might find a variety on this list you’re interested in.
You can grow English peas, snap peas, and snow peas in your garden. Each category has over five different varieties within its group for your consideration. These include Lincoln peas, Alaskan garden peas, torn thumb peas, and more.
These peas aren’t exactly interchangeable, so never fear if you know you hate sugar snap peas! You may enjoy snow peas or English peas.
Each type grows best in a different climate and has different preferences:
- English Peas grow best in zones 2-9: English peas are ready to harvest quickly and prefer a more loamy soil. These are the kind of peas that are typically found in cans.
- Snow Peas grow best in zones 2-9: Snow peas are commonly used in stir-fries.
- Snap Peas grow best in zones 3-11: You often snap peas on your vegetable trays. These are the little green peas you find in a bag to snack on.
As long as you live in the zones mentioned, you shouldn’t have a hard time growing peas. They mature quickly, are cost-effective, and are versatile in the kitchen.
Weighing the Benefits and Drawbacks of Cultivating Peas
With all fruits and vegetables that you allow to take up precious space in your garden, it’s important to consider the costs and the benefits.
All of our gardens are different, and each gardener has their specifications or preferences for what makes a plant “worth it.” Think about your budget, how much space you have, and whether or not you’ll use the yield. Think about your mobility, too.
Once you decide where your priority lies, you can review the benefits and challenges:
The benefits of growing peas in your garden include:
Easy to Grow
For one, peas are easy to grow. They don’t take very long, they only need a little bit of water, and they don’t require too much attention. Peas are a great plant for first-time gardeners or even children interested in gardening.
Peas are cheap to grow, making them one of the more affordable vegetables to have in your garden. One packet of seeds goes a long way, and most seed packets are pretty cheap.
Peas also have a high yield. One pea plant can grow anywhere from 20-60 pods. Each pod will have 7-8 little peas, meaning you’ll have a pretty high yield.
Peas are pretty forgiving as well. Peas are not secretive about how they are feeling. If they look wilted, it means they need a little help. Add a little water or water a little less to get it back up and healthy.
You don’t need anything special to store your peas. All you have to do is put them in the crisper while they’re still in their pods.
Peas are extremely nutritious despite their small size. They contain vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B, and zinc.
Peas are soft when cooked and tender when fresh. You can use them to make soups, sauces, stir-fries, or dips. Additionally, many vegans use peas to make protein-packed plant burgers or faux meats! The demand for peas has encouraged some farmers to invest in the plant.
On the other hand, some of the challenges of growing peas include:
Specific Climate Needs
Peas grow best between 60 and 75 °F (15.55-23.89 °C). If you live in a climate where it’s always above that temperature during the growing season, you may have to adjust your gardening season accordingly.
A Pest Hotspot
Some pests and birds may make your garden their hot spot. Birds, squirrels, and rabbits love peas. These low-hanging veggies may prompt some if you haven’t had pests before.
Since peas grow so low to the ground, you may have trouble harvesting if you have back problems. You have to hurry to pick them one by one to ensure you aren’t harming the pods when you harvest.
Peas are not everyone’s favorite veggie taste-wise (especially when they wind up tasting earthy or like dirt). They get a bad rap because of how differently they taste when canned. Fresh peas are way beyond what canned peas taste like, so keep an open mind!
Essential Factors to Consider Before Growing Peas in Your Garden
Before growing, make sure that peas fit in well with your garden. If you typically do a mid-summer garden filled with okra or a fall garden filled with pumpkins, peas might not work for you.
Here are some things to know before growing peas:
- Peas are a spring and winter crop.
- Peas need full sun to grow.
- You can start indoors or directly sow outdoors.
- Peas need 1 inch (2.54 cm) of water a week.
- Peas prefer a pH between 6 and 7.5.
- Peas can take 60-70 days to harvest.
- Harvest when crunchy.
- Store in the crisper.
Let’s get into what this might look like for your garden.
Peas Are a Spring and Winter Crop
Peas are usually grown in cold weather. Your peas can even tolerate some snow or a mild freeze. You should plan to sow and harvest in the spring, fall, or even the winter.
Peas prefer a temperature of 60 to 75 °F (15.6 to 23.9 °C). However, warmer climates may have trouble getting peas to yield very much during heat waves.
Utilizing a shade or planting your peas in pots (so you can move to shade when it gets too hot) would be a good alternative to keep your peas growing all season long. There are also some varieties made specifically for warm weather and summer planting.
Peas Need Full Sun to Grow
When you look for the perfect spot in your garden, remember that your peas need full sun. This may seem counterintuitive to the above point, but sunlight and temperature are not the same things.
Sunlight helps vegetables photosynthesize and grow. Find a spot in your garden that provides full sun for your peas.
If you think you’ve found the spot but aren’t sure, you can pull out your moisture meter and check. Many moisture meters have a sunlight and temperature setting paired with their moisture setting. Find a spot that you think gets full sunlight but isn’t too warm.
You Can Start Indoors or Directly Sow Outdoors
If you want to start your peas early, you can start them indoors and then move them outside. Otherwise, you can directly sow.
This YouTube video from QuickCrop gives a visual of how to directly sow your pea seeds outdoors:
When you directly sow, use a moisture meter to check how cold the soil is. Your soil temperature will directly affect how quickly your peas begin growing. If you want to wait till a little later in the season, your plants will grow faster.
Peas Need One Inch of Water a Week
Peas are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to water. They need 1 inch (2.54 cm) of water a week. Check your soil with a toothpick or use a moisture meter to make sure they’re getting what they need.
In warmer climates, they may need a little extra water. Conversely, 1 inch (2.54 cm) a week might be too much if you have extra moist soil.
Peas Prefer a pH Between 6 and 7.5
Check your pH before planting! Your peas prefer somewhere between 6 and 7.5 on the pH scale. Slightly acidic soil ensures that your pets will get all the necessary nutrients. You could use a moisture meter or pH test to check where your soil is at.
Peas Can Take 60–70 Days to Harvest
Peas only take 60-70 days to grow fully. You get to pick your first harvest around two to three weeks after their flowers begin to appear.
Depending on your standards for growing, this is a great turnaround time, especially considering that peas are typically planted in late March or early April. This way, you’ll have some fresh veggies at the start of Summer or earlier!
Harvest When Crunchy
The best part of fresh peas (especially for those who grew up with canned ones!) is the crunchiness when ready to harvest. You want to pick your peas when they don’t have any give when squeezing. As the peas inside get ready to be picked, your peas will start to get more bulbous, almost like they are swollen.
Store in the Crisper
Your peas are best stored in your crisper. You should keep them inside the pods to keep them fresh as long as possible. Additionally, don’t wash until you’re ready to eat. The moisture may cause your peas to turn faster than they need to.
Peas are worth adding to your garden if you think your family, friends, guests, or farmers-market customers would be interested in them. Peas have a high yield, are cheap to add, and are relatively low maintenance. They grow well in colder temperatures, so your gardening season can begin even earlier.
If you don’t intend to use them up, it might not work for you. You will have to adjust your schedule and possibly add some shades to your garden, and the high yield may become overwhelming. Decide your priorities before going for it!