Growing Peas:
How to Grow Peas Organically

Growing peas is an great way to get an early harvest since they are one of the earliest spring plants to produce. There are several different varieties of peas, including English peas, snow peas, and snap peas.

Peas are easy to grow as long as you give them full sun and fertile soil.

Growing Peas: Plant Snapshot (Pisum sativum)

growing artichokes
  • Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual – 60 to 70 days to maturity
  • Recommended varieties: Amish Snap, Cascadia, Zipper Cream, Picolo Provenzale
  • Cold tolerance: Hardy - Will survive hard frosts and can be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • Rotate with: Do not rotate with other peas or beans. Rotate with plants that need lots of nitrogen, like okra, since peas add nitrogen to the soil.
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Beans, carrots, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, radish, spinach, tomato, turnip
    • Avoid: Onion family, potato, Gladiolus
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Planting Peas

Where to Find Planting Supplies...

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Smooth seeded peas produce a starchy pea, while wrinkled seeds produce a sweeter pea. Either can be grown from seed sown directly into the garden before the last frost date, but keep in mind that the warmer your soil, the quicker they’ll germinate.

Apply organic garden fertilizer after your seeds are sown.

Vining varieties, which give a larger yield than bush varieties, will need to be staked for support. They should also be sown further apart than bush varieties.

If you want an early crop of peas, you can also start the seeds indoors well before the last frost and then transplant the seedlings into the garden as the weather warms up.

Snapshot: Planting Peas

  • Planting depth: about 1.2 inches deep for seed (3 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 40 to 75 degrees F (4.4 to 23.8 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 7 to 14 days
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Growing Peas: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

Where to Find Growing & Plant Care Supplies...

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Pea seedlings often need to be protected from birds, which are happy to eat the seeds while the seeds are young.

Pea plants can be tricky to water since they cannot tolerate being soggy, but if the soil dries out, it will affect production. Step up the watering when the plants begin to flower, and mulch to conserve moisture as the weather warms.

Both watering and harvesting are easier when pea plants are grown up some type of support, so plan accordingly.

Peas make their own nitrogen, so avoid fertilizing with high-nitrogen fertilizers. But do apply some organic fertilizer for vegetables when the plants have grown to a few inches (about 8 cm).

Snapshot: Growing Peas

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 7.5
  • Growing soil temperature: 60 to 75 degrees F (15.5 to 23.8 C)
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Growing Peas: Harvesting Time

Peas’ harvest time depends on the variety, but in general, peas left on the vine longer will have a thicker texture, while peas picked earlier will be more tender.

Shelled peas and snow peas should be harvested when the peas can first be felt through the pod (don’t let them grow too large). For tender and sweet sugar snap varieties, harvest when the pod “snaps” when broken.

Harvest regularly to increase production.

Snapshot: Harvesting Peas

  • Time to harvest: 60 to 70 days, depending upon variety
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Storing Peas and Freezing Peas

Peas can be kept in perforated bags in the refrigerator for about a week. They can also be canned or frozen.

To freeze shelling peas, shell and wash the peas, and then blanch for about 1 ½ minutes. To freeze pod peas, remove stems and wash the pods. Blanch whole pods for about 2 to 3 minutes.

For both types, allow them to cool after blanching, then package, seal and freeze them.

Seeds are good for about three years.

Snapshot: Storing Peas & Freezing Peas

  • Storage temperature: 32 to 40 degrees F (0 to 4.4 C)
  • Humidity: 90 to 95% relative humidity
  • Storage life: 1 weeks
  • Storage life (frozen): 6 months
  • Seed longevity: About 3 years
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Growing Peas: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing peas. Follow the links for more information about controlling each…

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Armyworms
  • Cucumber Beetles
  • Leafminers
  • Nematodes
  • Pea Leaf Weevils
  • Pea moth
  • Pea weevils
  • Spider mites
  • Thrips

Diseases

  • Ascochyta Blight
  • Basal Stem Rots
  • Downy mildew
  • Fusarium wilt
  • Powdery mildew
  • Root rot and damping off
  • Virus diseases
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YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Peas

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