Snap peas are the perfect addition to a garden. They can be eaten fresh off the vine, or if you have more self-control, you can cook them in a multitude of dishes. Learn when to plant snap peas and the best ways to care for them.
When to plant snap peas: Snap peas are a cool weather crop so you can plant them in the early spring and then again in the early fall. Spring is the easiest time to plant, as you can get your snap peas planted as soon as the ground is workable. Just be careful with fall planting because if the weather turns very cold before the peas are ready, you won’t be able to harvest them. Pick snap peas in the morning so they are nice and crisp.
Planting Snap Peas in Different Climates
Unfortunately, snap peas won’t grow in a tropical climate. They need cool weather and the constant warmth of this area won’t allow the peas to grow.
Growing snap peas in a dry climate can be difficult. If you choose to try this crop, you will need to constantly monitor the moisture level in the soil.
Perhaps the best place to grow snap peas is in a temperate climate. The mild temperatures in both spring and fall mean you can most likely get two growing seasons in. Just be careful as the high rainfall can drown out your peas.
While you can grow to snap peas in a continental climate, it might be hard to get that second, fall harvest in. You will have to wait until later in the spring to plant snap peas and then install row covers to protect the plants from the hot late spring temperatures.
While not much will grow in a polar climate, you can definitely try snow peas. However, you will need to plant them in the summer as the spring will still be too cold to work the soil.
Difference between snap peas and snow peas
Given the similarity in name, it can be hard to know what exactly the differences are between these two types of peas. Snow peas have a thinner appearance and are more often used in stir-fries. While they do have peas inside the pod, they are very small and not eaten on their own.
As for snap peas, the inside peas are larger and you can eat them raw or cooked. Snap peas are actually a cross between snow peas and garden peas.
Choosing Snap Pea Seeds
Even though snap peas have a short growing season, they may still be too long for some climates. If this is the case where you live, you can consider this variety. Instead of the average 60 days, it is ready in just 50 days.
A popular choice, this variety is perfect if you are short on space. The vines only grow to about 2 feet tall, so you won’t need to worry about any type of support structure.
This variety of snap peas has a sweeter taste to it and is perfect if you want to pick peas straight off of the vine.
How to Plant Snap Pea Seeds
As a cool weather crop, you have two options for planting snap peas. You can plant in either the spring or the summer, as long as you have favorable conditions.
Spring planting is the easiest. While you need to wait until the worst of winter is over, in mild climates, this can be as early as February. You may need to wait as late as early May, however, if you have long, cold winters.
For fall planting, try to wait until the end of September so that the ground and air temperatures are cooler. However, if you have a very short fall, the ground can become too frozen, so you won’t be able to harvest your snap peas in time.
The best place to plant snap peas is in full sun. However, if you are worried about your spring warming up too quickly, they will also be alright in partial shade.
It’s best to plant your peas right into your garden as they don’t do that great with transplanting. If you are worried about a short growing season, however, you can try transplanting as long as you are very careful with the delicate roots.
Planting in raised garden beds can help keep the pea roots from rotting if you have a spring that is very wet. The moisture will have more opportunity to drain into the ground from a higher surface.
If you are worried about a short growing season, you can soak your pea seeds in water for eight hours to help speed up the germination period.
Pea seeds are just dried peas, so they will be easy to see while planting. Aim to space your peas 2 inches apart and place them at a depth of 1 inch.
Finally, try to think about crop rotation and spread out your planting so that you only put peas in one part of your garden every four years.
How to Water Snap Peas
Watering your snap peas is a fine balance. You want soil that is moist but you don’t want too much wetness or else the roots will quickly rot.
Also, as planting happens in spring and fall, you will have to contend with the natural rainfall. Too much rain and your little peas can suffer.
When you can, plant your snap peas in a raised bed to help with drainage. You should also ensure the soil is not compacted to let the rainwater move around better.
How to Grow Snap Peas
Depending on the type of snap peas you are growing, you will want to add an element of support. Even if you have a bush-style of peas, these can still grow to 30 inches tall. Some pole types of peas can be up to 6 feet tall.
There are many types of supports you can use for snap peas. Items like sticks or tree branches are easily available. You can also use chicken wire or trellises.
Always install your support system before you plant. Snap peas have delicate roots that do not go very deep, so adding pointy objects to your soil can inadvertently damage the roots.
One of the benefits of growing snap peas is that they will actually fix the nitrogen levels in your garden. This is beneficial and a reason why you want to practice crop rotation.
If you do add fertilizer to your garden, make sure it is rich in phosphorus and potassium. If there is too much nitrogen, your snap peas will have luscious foliage but small vegetation.
If you live in an area where you have a short growing season, the weather might turn hot before you are ready to harvest. To help protect your fragile snap peas, you can install a row cover to protect the plants from the afternoon sun.
A huge sign that your snap peas are too hot is if they turn yellow. The good news is that if you catch this sign right away and amend the environment, you can revive the snap peas so they continue to grow.
The delicate roots of snap peas mean they can be hard to weed properly. You want to be very careful when removing weeds as you could inadvertently disrupt the pea roots.
Adding a layer of mulch to the area after your snap peas start to grow will help with weed suppression. It will also help regulate the moisture content in your soil.
How to harvest snap peas
The best time to harvest snap peas is in the morning. They will have absorbed the morning dew, making them crispier.
Snap peas don’t last more than a few days in the fridge, so pick what you need and if you have extra, consider giving them to friends and neighbors.
If you keep picking snap peas on a daily basis, the plant will keep producing more peas, which will give you a continuous harvest for a few weeks.
Try to eat your snap peas within a day or two of harvesting. This is when they have the most flavor.
Finally, if you have an abundance of snap peas, or missed the best time to harvest them, you can actually dry them and use the inside peas for winter cooking, such as in stews or soups.
How long do snap peas take to grow?
Snap peas only take about 60 days to grow. This short growing season means you can plant and harvest them in both the spring and the fall, which is a good way to use your garden the whole year.
Snap peas have large, flavorful peas inside crisp shells. You can eat them raw or cook with them. Plant your snap peas in late winter to early spring for a spring harvest, or in early fall for a late fall harvest.