How to Peas

Peas are classified as a legume and are a cool season crop. They are broadly grouped into two growing styles and pod types Tall and dwarf growing varieties and pod and shelling varieties. Shelling peas are not suitable for eating whole as the pods are quite tough and stringy. They are fairly hardly plants and can tolerate a range of ph soil levels, but prefer less acidic types. Best grown from seed, space them out 10cm apart in rows 50-60 cm apart. Sow successively to extend cropping. Water once when sowing and leave until shoots emerge, then monitor, ensuring they aren't too wet. They can be planted as established seedlings, but can be fragile so take care.


In both cases, cover the seed drills and young plants until they are well established. Once the peas start to flower, the cropping onslaught begins.


Shelling peas need to be left until nice and fat before picking, pod peas such as snow peas or sugar snap are savoured for the entire pod for eating, so are best not left to grow too large. The more you pick, the more you'll get and you'll soon have more than you can handle. I just shell my peas and freeze them for later use.

Growing Conditions


Position: Full Sun, protected from strong winds


Plant:  Sow direct about 10-15cms apart in early spring or late autumn. Water once and leave until shots emerge (assuming beds don't dry out) or transplant seedlings. provide a climbing trellis. Assist plant support by gently weaving the young plants initially, after which they will attach themselves with their tendrils


Frost Tolerant: No Heat tolerant:  Yes, but extreme heat can cause burning and some protection should be provided.


Feeding: Not usually required if beds are prepped. Peas like rich, well drained soils. They do benefit from some nitrogen in the soil, but not too much as they are able to fix nitrogen in the soil from the air. To ensure the soil is not too acidic, I always prepare the bed with a light dressing of gardening lime (dolomite)


Planting group: Legumes, plant with other peas and beans.


Pests: Main problems are birds both before and after sowing and as young seedlings. Also snails and slugs can devastate plants of all ages, especially if they ringbark the stems. Peas suffer badly from mildew, so ensure good air circulation and either remove affected plants or stems or treat the infestation.


Harvesting: Pea plants are very fragile, so always cut off pods with scissors or secatuers. Regular picking will encourage more flowering and more peas. Shellin peas should be picked when the pods are plump.