Growing Peas: A Guide to Stages and Harvesting

Pea Plant

Pea plants are a favorite in the vegetable garden, completing their lifecycle within one year. Not only do they yield high quantities and add nutrients to the soil, but they also offer a rewarding and functional crop. Whether planted in fall or early spring, growing peas provides a satisfying experience with the added bonus of harvesting your own sweet and crisp peas. Let’s explore the stages of pea growth and harvesting tips.

What Are The Growing Stages Of Peas?

1. Planting/Germination

The initial stage of a pea plant’s life begins with germination, which occurs within 7-14 days of planting. Peas prefer to be planted directly in the ground rather than transplanted as seedlings. Choosing a sunny location where they will receive 4-5 hours of direct sunlight daily is crucial. To speed up the germination process, soak the seeds in water overnight before planting. Plant the pea seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart in rows that are 7 inches apart. Make sure the soil is well-drained and provide a trellis or frame for the peas to climb. Peas germinate best in temperatures of 40-70°F.

2. Leaf Growth

After germination, the pea plants will grow a stem and their first set of leaves. At this stage, pea shoots can be harvested and used as a garnish. As the foliage continues to grow, the vine will lengthen, and tendrils will appear. It’s important to provide a structure for the peas to grow onto. The leaves of the pea plant face upwards and gradually open from the center to receive sunlight.

3. Flowering

After 4-6 weeks of vine growth, the pea plant enters the flowering stage. Peas are cool-season crops and require temperatures no higher than 70°F to flower. They can tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F and even handle light frost. The location of the flowers on the plant depends on the variety. Vining types produce blooms from the leaf’s axles, while bush-type peas flower at the end of the branch. Peas are self-pollinating and don’t require assistance from insects. The ornate flowers can also be used to enhance dishes.

4. Harvesting

Mature Pea Pods

After flowering for 5-8 days, peas begin to form pods, a process that takes 8-12 weeks from planting. The pods develop from the center of the flower, and as the petals fall off, the sepal holds the pods onto the vine. Garden peas should be harvested when the pods have swelled and are cylindrical. Sugar snap peas or peas with edible pods can be harvested when they reach 2-3 inches in length or before the seeds begin to swell. Leaving a few pods on the vine to dry will provide seeds for the next season. Pea plants continue to produce flowers and pods as you harvest, so the more you pick, the more they grow!

Signs Your Peas Are Ready To Harvest

After witnessing the flowering stage, keep an eye on the pods to determine the ideal time for harvest. Different varieties have specific signs:

  • Snow Peas: Edible pods produce peas inside and should be picked before the pods start to swell.
  • Snap Peas: Edible pods become plump and glossy, ready for harvest when the peas inside are well-rounded.
  • Garden Peas (grown for shelling): Pods become cylindrical and long, best harvested before they become waxy.

Other generic signs include peas touching inside the pod, crispness, firmness when squeezed, and bright to dark green color. Pods that turn yellow and lose glossiness have been on the vine for too long and are best used as seeds for the next year.

How Long Does It Take For Peas To Grow?

Most pea varieties take approximately 60 days to grow before harvest. Once temperatures exceed 85°F, growth and flowering stop. June is usually the month when peas stop producing if planted in spring. Peas planted in part shade will grow slower, so adequate sunlight is crucial for a quick crop. Fall-planted peas are usually ready for harvest between 70-80 days. Mid-season crops require 60-70 days before harvest.

Pea Plant Problems

Growing peas can be very rewarding, but they also come with their fair share of potential problems. Some common issues to watch out for are:

  • Seeds failing to germinate: Ensure the soil temperature is around 65-70°F for 7-12 days. Avoid planting in damp conditions that favor seed corn maggots or cabbage grubs.
  • Cutworm infestation: Use wood ash or a paper collar to prevent grey grubs from feeding on the roots, leaves, and stems.
  • Root rot and crown rot: Stunted growth, dull-colored vines, and absent roots are signs of root rot. Improve soil drainage for better results.
  • Aphid infestation: Control aphid numbers with a diluted neem oil and soap solution.
  • Leaf miner larvae: Remove leaves and turn over the soil to prevent larvae from hatching.

Being prepared to tackle these problems will help safeguard your pea plants.

Wrapping Up

Harvesting peas from your garden is a highly rewarding experience. To ensure a successful crop, pay attention to soil temperature, provide support for climbing, and ensure adequate sunlight and water. Peas are great nitrogen fixers, so consider this when choosing a planting location. Saving seeds from your peas will gradually develop a robust variety tailored to your garden. So go ahead, grow your own personal peas!