(News article for October 10, 2020)
When you think about growing peas in Louisiana, southern peas – the group that includes black-eyed, purple hull, crowder, and cream peas – might be the first thing that comes to mind. These are well-suited to our hot summers and can be planted from April until early August.
At this time of year, though, you can try your hand at growing green or “English” peas, as well as the edible-podded snow and sugar snap peas. These all belong to the same species and require cool temperatures, unlike their southern pea cousins.
Green, snow, and sugar snap peas can be planted between mid-September and January. Suggested varieties include Mr. Big or Novella II (not edible-podded); Oregon Sugar Pod II (snow pea); and Sugar Snap or Sugar Ann (sugar snap peas).
Snow pea pods can be eaten whole, while preparing sugar snap pea pods is similar to preparing snap beans. (You’ll likely want to remove the ends and “string.”)
Plant peas on a well-drained site. Since they’re in the legume family with other peas and beans, avoid planting them where peas or beans have been grown within the past few years, to reduce the risk of having soilborne disease issues.
Green and edible-podded peas don’t perform well in highly acidic or excessively alkaline soils. A soil pH between 5.8 and 7.0 is recommended.
Like other legumes, peas don’t require a lot of nitrogen fertilizer, and they can suffer from fertilizer burn if too much is used. Excessive nitrogen can also cause a lot of vine growth and reduced pea production.
For every 100 feet of row (or 300 square feet), 3 pounds 8-24-24 or 8-8-8, 2.5 pounds 10-10-10, or 2 pounds 13-13-13 can be incorporated into the soil, to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Because peas are prone to fertilizer burn, do this 10 to 14 days before planting.
While many of our vegetables need to be side-dressed at some point in the season, peas do not need additional fertilizer.
Plant seeds 0.5 to 1 inch deep and 2 to 3 inches apart within the row.
Peas like Sugar Snap that produce a long vine should be trellised. A trellis isn’t absolutely necessarily for short-vine types but is still suggested. It will likely make harvesting peas easier and may increase yield.
A pea trellis doesn’t have to be all that strong. Sticks, string, and chicken wire are examples of materials that can be used. If you plan to use a trellis, put it in place before or just after you plant the peas.
Be careful not to overwater peas.
It generally takes about 60 to 70 days from planting until when the first peas are ready to be picked. Once they’re ready, harvest them every 3 to 4 days. Be careful not to damage the vines while you pick, so that they’ll continue to produce.
Let me know if you have questions.
Contact Mary Helen Ferguson.
Pea (Pisum sativum) flower. (Photo by R. McGee, USDA Agricultural Research Service)
Pea plant with mature pods. Non-edible-podded green peas and sugar snap peas should have well-developed (but not hard) seeds when they are picked, while snow peas should not. (Photo by R. McGee, USDA Agricultural Research Service)