Peas Vegetables

Peas – A Gourmet Treat from the Garden

As almost anyone who has grown garden fresh peas will tell you, the taste in no way resembles the canned or frozen peas in the store. You’re pretty much limited to having them as a once a year treat – unless you grow enough to freeze a few packages.

Peas literally start loosing sugar content the minute they are picked, which is the reason it’s impossible for peas to beprocessed on a large scale and still maintain their original great taste.

Because of a period of drought last year that lasted just a few days too long — a lot of my peas did not fill out and I went into the winter with only 8 pints frozen.  This year, happily, after a two week harvest period I am going into the winter with 3 1/2 gallons of peas in the freezer.

I’ve grown Green Arrow english peas for years.  I use to split the planting with Wando and Little Marvel peas, but now just use Green Arrow.  I was not really conscious of the “whys” until I  googled Green Arrow peas.  Evidently there are a lot of folks who think they are the best english pea!  Made me feel sorta good that I had also made that choice.

It’s a heavy yielding gourmet variety from England.  I especially like it because I can pick every other day instead of everyday if I want.  (Most peas don’t hold their sweetness well when picking is delayed.)

And Green Arrow saves you a lot of time shelling since it has more peas per pod than most. (7 to 11 per pod)

More good points are that it resists wilt and mildew and is excellent for freezing.

Although you can get away without staking (picture below) or trellising since they’re a dwarf variety (24 to 28 inches), it will make picking easier to give them some type of support. In addition, all peas topple over and that puts a lot of the pods on the ground making them fair game for slugs and other insects.

I grew them for almost 30 years without support.  In one of the beds I planted this year, I pushed in some 4 feet long cut tree branches about every two feet. (picture below)

This simple act made that bed the easiest one to pick!  Next year every bed will have some type of simple support.  Either the tree branches or maybe a tree branch at each end of the bed with some string in between for them to climb on.

(Peas have grown to hide branches in picture below.)

I usually plant this cool weather crop in mid-March.  This year I planted April 1st.  The only problem with delaying the planting is:  if it turns hot when you plant late you may get a poor harvest.

Direct sow in the garden 2 inches apart and 1 or 1 1/2 inches deep.  To save space plant two double rows on each side of a  3 1/2 foot bed with 6 to 8 inches between the double row.

It will take about 70 days before you can harvest.

Peas are the most work intensive crop I grow.  As much as I love them I limited myself to growing about 4 rows.  Harvesting, shelling and preparing for the freezer can take me 3 to 4 hours each day I harvest.  Fortunately, the harvest time is only about 2 weeks.

If you can plan to have the time to harvest, shell and freeze at least every other day for a two week period treat yourself to this gourmet treat – fresh garden peas.  They make a meal in the dead of winter mighty special.


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  • Dear Theresa, Imagine my dismay when I went out today and discovered my Sugar Ann pea sprouts lying wilted beyond rescue!!!! As you know, my soil is hot, but I’d mulched heavily (6 inches) and had shaded them with shade cloth.
    Perhaps, I’ll try another sowing(that East border I was telling you about), although something tells me this warm trend is continuing this year.

    What do you think – too late this year?

  • Sandra, I know it must have been devastating to find your peas wilted beyond rescue!

    Yes, I know your soil temperature was very hot a day or so ago. If you mulched heavily AFTER that — you could have mulched the heat into the soil. Read my post

    And although the warm trend may indeed continue — it is certainly (in my opinion) worth taking a chance on more peas.

    Wet the soil thoroughly to cool it down. Plant. Mulch at least 2 inches over the peas. Whey they start germinating mulch more and continue to mulch as they grow until you have about 6 inches at least.

    Let me know how you do. Good luck!

  • Hi Theresa,
    I was re reading this, so I could remember what I’d done last year. I think I will start my peas earlier than March this year. I know that my garden is a hotspot – today I saw one blueberry leafing out a little!!! I think I’ll plant a first lot at the end of Feb. and then try a couple more plantings in various places through to mid -March. I bought Green Arrow this year, and have some of the Sugar Ann’s from last year. I’ve never had good peas…. yet.

  • That’s a good plan Sandra. If the weather stays nice — you’ll more than likely have two good crops.
    Years ago I use to plant peas early March — even in the cold — they just sat there. So now I wait a bit and harvest at the same time as those I use to plant in the cold.
    You’ll like Green Arrow I think. It a really good one and easy to pick.

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