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How to Grow Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas are one of the favorites of the vegetable garden. As their name implies, they are a sweet delight. Many gardeners eat them fresh, right out in the garden. If you're looking for your kids, you just might find them in the garden picking some Sweet Peas for a snack.

Sweet Peas are also called "Snow Peas". They get this name because they are a hardy annual, growing early in the spring. Once in a while, an early crop gets caught in a late spring snowstorm. Never fear. As the snow melts, the plants resume their growth.

Sweet Peas are a vining plant. Most varieties require support of a fence or trellis.Some varieties state they are "self supporting", and no fencing is required. We find providing something for them to climb is always helpful to maximize growth, and production of your sweet pea plants.

There are three basic types of pea:

  1. Regular peas - remove the peas inside, the pod is not edible.

  2. Edible podded - both the pod and the peas are edible. They are more tender when picked while still small.

  3. Chinese Peas - A flat, edible podded variety. But, the peas inside are tiny.

How to Grow Sweet Peas:

Sweet Peas like full sun and a rich to average garden soil. As a cool weather crop, they can be planted as early as the ground can be worked in the spring. They tolerate cool and cold weather, as well as occasionally wet soils. Wet soil during the germination period can be a problem, as seeds will rot.

Sow seeds in double rows, with a 3' to 4' tall fence between the rows. Space seeds 1/2" to 1" apart. Allow three feet between rows. Thin seedlings to 2"-3" apart.

Fertilize when planting, and every 2-3 weeks. Soil moisture is usually plentiful in the spring. Water only if the soil becomes dry.

Plan a second fall crop. Check the days to maturity, and add a few days. The daylight hours are dwindling, and growth is slower than in the spring.

Harvesting Peas:

Days to Maturity: Ranges from 55 to 70 days, depending on variety.

Harvest regular sweet peas and edible podded peas when the peas inside have fully formed. Squeeze the pod lightly to see if the pea is fully developed. Pick while still tender. Kept on the vine too long, they be come hard, dry, and bitter tasting.

Insects, Pests, and Disease:


Pea plants are a popular food for some birds. The birds will nip off seedlings. Later, they will attack the tender growth ends of the vines. If you have a lot of birds in your area, a bird netting is recommended. As the seedlings grow, birds will sometimes eat the tender tips. We recommend bird netting over the young seedlings.

Boring insects will sometimes enter the pea pod. Occasional aphid infestations can also occur, but this is uncommon. Sevin or Diazinon is effective.

In wet weather, slugs will climb the vines and suck on the pea pods. Use snail and slug pellets. For organic control, make a beer trap. Bury the trap, up to the lip, in the garden soil. Snails and slugs will be attracted to it, fall in and drown.

Sweet Pea plants wilt in the heat of summer. High humidity also brings plant diseases. Time your crop to be harvested before heat and humidity arrives in your area.

Garden Recipes - Find recipes using peas, and garden recipes galore!

Buy Vegetable Seeds now

Bird Netting - Don't let the birds destroy your sweet pea plants.

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