Snow peas are a great addition to a stir-fry and you can have access to them twice a year in your backyard. Learn when to plant snow peas and when the best time is to harvest them.
When to plant snow peas: Snow peas can be planted twice a year, in the early spring and the early fall. They are a cool weather crop so they like the ground to be cold but workable. While some climates might not have fall weather suitable for peas, if you have a mild, long fall, then you can get a second growing season. You can pick snow peas as you need them and the more you pick, the more your plant will produce.
Planting Snow Peas in Different Climates
Snow peas will definitely not grow in a tropical climate. This is a cool season crop and the constant humidity and warmth won’t allow them to grow.
It can be very tricky trying to grow snow peas in a dry climate. This crop doesn’t do well with a lot of water but still needs moist soil to grow properly.
A temperate climate is perfect for snow peas. The mild temperatures in the spring and fall give you more opportunities to harvest. Just be careful as you can get a lot of rain in a temperate climate, so plant accordingly.
With a continental climate, you will need to be careful as a stretch of very cold weather can damage your snow peas. You may have to plant later in the spring and you might not get a second crop planted in the fall.
You can plant snow peas in a polar climate but you will have to change the planting schedule. Instead of a spring or fall harvest, plant in the summer as it will be warm enough to grow but still cool enough for snow peas.
Difference between snap peas and snow peas
To help you understand what type of peas you should plant, let’s pause to discuss the difference between snap peas and snow peas. Given their similar names, it can be a bit confusing.
Snow peas are thinner in appearance thanks to their tiny inside peas. They are primarily picked before fully ripened and you will need to remove their strings before cooking.
Snap peas, on the other hand, have much larger peas inside their pods. While you should also remove the strings before eating, there are some stringless varieties available.
Choosing Types of snow peas
Mammoth Melting Sugar
This variety of snow peas has a lot going for it. They do better than other types if the temperature warms up and they produce stringless pods, so there is less work for you to do.
Oregon Sugar Pods
If you are short on space, this variety will really shine. It only grows to be 2 ½ feet tall, so you don’t have to worry about extensive support systems.
Unfortunately, snow peas are susceptible to different types of diseases, including the fungus fusarium wilt. If you are worried about this, snowbird peas are an excellent variety as they are resistant to this fungus.
How to Plant snow peas
Snow peas are a cool weather crop so you have two options for planting. You can plant in either the spring or the fall.
The timing is quite important when planting snow peas as they won’t stay fresh after harvest and need cool weather to grow, and thus will start to wilt as soon as the weather warms up.
Plant your snow peas in February or March if you have a mild winter. While your snow pea plants will survive a light dusting of snow, you need to wait until after the threat of a hard frost has passed.
Similarly, for fall planting you need that perfect window for planting. The temperature needs to be cool but you can’t wait too long or else the ground will freeze too much.
Fall planting only works in more temperate climates that have long, mild falls. Here you can plant in late September and get a harvest in before winter hits.
Snow peas prefer full sun to partial sun. If you live in an area that has mild temperatures in the spring or fall, go for a location with full sun. However, if you are worried about the spring suddenly warming up too quickly, partial shade might be best.
Peas do really well as a companion plant for other vegetables. You can plant carrots, beans, and cucumbers near peas. Just don’t plant them near onions.
For those wanting to plant their peas in the spring, wait until the ground is workable. You should dig up the area you want to plant and add compost.
Not only will this make the area more fertile but it will help with drainage.
It’s best to plant your snow peas directly into your garden. While you can try to start them indoors if you are worried about a late growing season, the roots are very delicate so be careful.
Your snow peas should be spaced so there are 2 inches of space between each plant. The depth should be about 1 inch and if you are planting multiple rows, aim for 6 inches of space between the rows.
To kickstart the germination process, soak your peas overnight in room temperature water. This will signal to the seeds that it’s time to wake up and start growing.
How to Water snow peas
Snow peas need just the right amount of water, which can be hard to figure out. Too much water and the roots will rot; too little water and the plants won’t grow.
While you should aim for just under an inch of water per week, you will have to contend with the unpredictability of rain. As snow peas grow in the spring and fall, this can be hard to manage.
Try to plant snow peas in raised garden beds so that there is a better way for the water to drain. You should also dig the area up fully and add sand so that the soil isn’t compacted.
How to Grow snow peas
Immediately after you plant your snow peas, you should install some system of support. While different varieties of snow peas will grow to different heights, they all need a bit of support.
Furthermore, it’s important to place the support structure into the ground before the peas start to grow. Their roots are delicate and grow close to the surface, so you can disrupt the plant if you wait too long.
Simple methods of support include sticks or branches. You can also use a trellis or a series of strings and poles.
For the most part, your snow peas shouldn’t need fertilizer to grow. This is especially true if you start by adding compost to your garden.
Peas have the ability to correct the level of nitrogen in your soil, which is beneficial. By rotating your peas and not planting them in the same area more than once every four years, you can have healthier crops.
Those that do want to add fertilizer should make sure it is high in phosphorus and potassium. Too much extra nitrogen will target the foliage and not the peas.
Be careful when removing weeds from your snow pea garden as they can damage the small roots. After your snow peas start to grow, you can add a layer of mulch to help prevent weeds from growing.
If it looks like your spring weather is about to change drastically and enter a hot period, do your best to protect your snow peas. Add a row cover to provide shade.
The afternoon sun will be the hottest time of the day, so angle the row cover to protect your snow peas.
How to harvest snow peas
Snow peas have a flat texture to them. This texture is a result of harvesting the vegetable before the inside peas can fully mature.
Harvest your snow peas early in the morning, just after the moisture from the morning dew has been absorbed. This way you will get flavorful and crisp snow peas.
Snow peas will start to lose their flavor shortly after being picked, so try to eat them within a day or two. What’s nice is that the more you pick your snow peas, the more the plant will produce, so you can have a nice, long harvest period.
How long do snow peas take to grow?
Snow peas take an average of 60 days to grow. This is relatively short so you are able to get a good spring harvest in and possibly a fall harvest, too.
Perfect for stir-fries, snow peas take a bit of care to grow but aren’t too difficult. Plant your snow peas by late winter or early spring. You can also try and plant them in early fall for a later fall harvest.