Peas — Harvest connected to the weather

You can’t get that delicious sweet taste of shell peas (sometimes called English peas) ANYWHERE except by growing you own.  And  even more enticing is that you can shell and freeze with no blanching and enjoy in the winter with that same fresh-from-the-garden taste!

I depend on peas as one of our green vegetables in the winter when fresh green vegetables from the garden are rare.  As well as being delicious, they provide key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and are very high in nutrients.

Peas are about the easiest vegetable to grow.  Harvest takes a little time but most years they usually come in and finish quickly.  The most time will be spent in shelling them.  After that — transfer to a zip lock freezer bag and enjoy in the winter.

For the first time in all the years I’ve grown peas — probably over 30 years — some of my peas didn’t germinate.  I purchased from a new source — but certainly a reputable one — Fedco.  So I’m not sure if there was a problem  at the seed’s source or not.

I planted 5 rows.  The first row — planted with last years seed — came up fine.  The other rows came up sparsely.  I guesstimate the spots of mature peas amount to about (not including the row that came up ok) 1+1/2 full rows.

Fortunately for me — we’ve had rain in due season this year. I’ve never experienced that before in the 35 years I’ve gardened.  And — because of the rain and cooler temperatures — I still have peas that started producing the first of June just finishing up now. Thus, in spite of spotty germination I’ve managed to harvest and freeze a little over 1 1/2 gallons for winter use.

Peas are an easy crop if you plant only what you need.  Otherwise — the picking and shelling can become an overwhelming task.

I plant 4 or 5 rows (maybe 6 to 8 feet long and 3 feet wide) and in a year that all goes well that gives me 3 gallons for the freezer and many meals of fresh eating too.

Just in case you want to know — here’s how I plant my peas:

I plant the peas an inch or two deep and only 3 or 4 inches apart.  I use about 100 to 125 peas per wide row.

Your crop will always vary according to the weather.  Here are examples of how mine have performed in the last 5 years:

  • 2009 – early drought lasted just a few days too long and the peas did not fill out.  Only one gallon of peas for winter.
  • 2010 – weather good; was able to harvest for two weeks;  3 1/2 gallons for freezing plus had lots for fresh eating
  • 2011 – turned unseasonably hot just as the peas matured; harvest was much more time consuming than usual because they all came in within 2 days; 3 gallons for freezing
  • 2012 – weather good; matured over a 10 day period so harvest was easy; 3 gallons for the freezer plus lots for fresh eating
  • 2013 – germination spotty; weather good; harvested for 3 weeks; little over 1 1/2 gallons for the freezer and a few meals of fresh eating

Final Thoughts

You can have fresh-from-the-garden tasting peas for your family even in the winter.  It requires minimal effort for a few days and is so easy.


Related Posts:

Peas – A Step Towards Independence
Peas – Support Makes for Easy Picking
Peas – To Blanch or Not to Blanch
Peas – Gourmet Treat from the Garden


Organic Gardening is easy, effective, and efficient—– and it’s a lot healthier.


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  • Hi Theresa,
    Thanks again for another informative post. What variety of pea did you plant? Do you recommend a second planting for Fall harvest and if so, when would you plant them?

  • Just now finishing up the sugar snap pea harvest here in No. Nevada. Germination was poor, but seeds continued to sprout throughout Spring time. Quail got into some seedlings, but they came back :-). Used grapevine cuttings for a trellis. I would have a bigger harvest if I would not eat so many when I am picking them. I planted zucchini in between the pea plants and as I remove the old vines the squash is doing well.

  • I had problems with my germination of peas this year too Theresa and the folks at the farmer’s market told me the same thing.

    Odd spring weather wise is what I put it down to. Going to plant a lot for fall.

    When do you put in peas for fall harvest?


  • Susan, I’ve grown Green Arrow peas for a lot of years and really like them. (See this post.)

    I usually settle for what I harvest from my spring planting. As you know I have no watering set up (just a sprinkling can) — and in this area we are usually in drought conditions when it’s time to plant. Time to plant is approximately 2 1/2 to 3 months before the first frost is expected.

    This year has been so good with “rain in due season” and I am seriously considering a row or two for a fall harvest IF I have the room. Ideally, I’d love to plant about the 3rd week of July but probably won’t. I figure if I could plant the first of August and get good germination — I could harvest in mid to late October. There’s always a chance of frost — but I might risk it.

    Again — how peas perform will depend on the weather conditions — spring or fall.
    If it’s too hot in August when I plant — they won’t do well.
    My strategy will be to try to plant in a spot that does not get hot afternoon sun.

    Nice to hear from you Sue.

  • Hi Alice,
    Interesting that you had poor germination too. As with you — my peas continued to sprout throughout the spring.
    Good strategy to get other crops started as the peas are finishing up.
    If it works for you — leave the roots of the peas in the ground. It’ll be beneficial to the soil and help your new crop as well.
    Thanks for the update Alice. 🙂

  • Hi Carol,
    So many folks have told me they had a problem with peas germinating.
    The weather in my area was “perfect” for peas — so I don’t attribute the poor germination to that.
    I think it may well be something we don’t know about — like what happened at the source for the seed.
    I don’t know how many growers it takes to supply seed for all those who supply the seed to us — but my guess is that most of the seed comes from the same source. If there were a problem at that source — more than likely — you and I would never know and it would show up in some way like poor germination.

    If I have room – I’ll plant a row or two for fall. I’ve ordered several different varieties (rather than just my favorite Green Arrow) so as not to put all my eggs in one basket. I’ll try a little of each to see if germination is good, etc. That will give me more info for planting this coming spring.

    See my reply to Sue — for more detail on when I’ll plant.
    Let me know how you do this fall with peas Carol.

  • I planted last year in August for a fall crop and had good success. Since I got so few in the spring, I will plant a lot in the fall.

    Did not realize you did not have to blanche them after shelling.


  • It’s great not to have to blanche, Carol. Of course, I use all of my frozen peas within a year and I think that’s a good policy for veggies not blanched.
    Let me know how you do in the fall.

  • Although I planted too few peas, they did great for me here in Annapolis. The weather was, as you say, “perfect” for them. I had both Green Arrow and Sugar Ann snap peas. I still didn’t have enough to freeze, or even cook with because of all the snacking from the family outside, so I consider them a recreational food. I would have to plant a LOT of peas to get surplus to put by. Same with blueberries.

  • The excellent side of what you are telling me is that those 3 kids LOVE snacking from the garden!
    How lucky are they!!!!

  • No blanching needed for peas??? Just wash? Then bag and freeze? I did 8 qts of peas yesterday…..2nd picking from 4 rows and 1st from 4 rows. Our peas germinated beautifully and the weather is perfect for them! We will be planting 1st of August for fall crop too. We still have a ton more on the plants and the vines look beautiful! Thanks for the information Theresa!

  • Stephanie, I’ve been shelling and freezing without blanching for years and am very pleased with the results. My peas are in the freezer within an hour or so of harvest.
    I don’t even wash my peas after shelling because they are very clean when they come out of my also clean pods.
    I do lay them out to make sure there is nothing that doesn’t belong.
    So glad your crop has been good. You’ll really enjoy the taste of fresh peas in the winter!

  • Theresa, Thanks to your previous posts, I did leave the pea roots in the ground, I just cut them off at the base and it did not disturb the squash plants. Thanks for your helpful posts.

  • You are so welcome Alice. It really pleases me that you find them helpful.

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