As we’re used to seeing them, peas are tiny green seeds plucked from their pod and frozen in the grocery store. However, some peas do not need to be taken from their pod and taste better fresh. If you’re hoping to explore the wonders of growing peas, figuring out where to plant peas is the first step to growing pea plants at home.
Peas are unique in history, specifically for Europe, as these little veggies were crucial for cuisine in the Middle Ages and the early European modern era. Aside from the familiar pea dishes, some peas are grown to be shelled and used in soup and porridge.
Compared to other vegetables, peas are relatively easy to grow. Because light frosts do not harm peas, plant them twice a year, once in spring and again at the end of summer before the first frost of the season. Your growing zone may cause this timeline to vary, but monitoring the temperatures and soil quality makes it possible to grow two bountiful pea harvests in the same year.
Where do Peas Grow?
Peas are not difficult to grow if you meet their basic requirements. Grow peas in full sun in a garden with moist soil, where the temperatures remain below 80°F.
When to Plant Peas
To successfully grow pea plants, they require the right soil temperature and adequate sunlight. Plant your pea seeds in the garden once the ground is workable to ensure your plants have time to grow. The timing of your soil thawing varies by growing zone and may occur between January through late March.
Because pea plants are cold-hardy, it is best to plant them in late winter and early spring. Unlike some other crops, light frosts do not threaten the growth of peas; however, heat and humidity will kill your plants. Considering the growing season for peas ensures you have a nice and tasty harvest.
Monitor the temperature of your soil once you’re able to stick a finger a few inches into the soil with ease. Below 40°F, pea seeds germinate slowly, so the ideal range for sowing seeds is between 40 and 70°F.
Where to Plant Peas in the Garden
When selecting a place to grow peas, the perfect location provides your plants between six and eight hours of sunlight per day. It is possible to grow pea plants in partial shade with tall companion plants nearby; however, this affects your yield when you harvest peas.
Avoid planting pea seeds in the same spot each year to avoid a build-up of pests or disease in the soil. Pea plants fix the nitrogen levels in soil, so plant peas in different parts of the garden to boost the overall quality of your soil.
If you practice companion planting, what grows well with peas includes carrots, cucumbers, and peppers. Don’t grow peas with flowers that don’t need sun as both types of plants will compete for sunlight and shade and likely neither will do well.
Planting Peas in a Pot
If you live in a growing zone where your peas cannot grow outdoors and are wondering, “How much sun do peas need?” consider planting seeds in pots. Along with herbs to grow in pots, container-grown produce is as delicious as yields grown in the garden bed. If you’re struggling with space or soil conditions, this may be the perfect alternative for you. Plant pea seed indoors and keep the plant there or put it out on the patio.
The main downside to growing peas in containers is that their yields will likely be smaller than plants grown in the garden. However, this is perfect for a smaller family or a home garden just getting started.
When you will be planting snap peas in containers, select a pot with enough size to support your pea plants; at least 12 inches wide. For vining/pole beans like sugar snap peas, include forms of support for your peas when you sow pea seeds. Stakes or a tomato cage work well as support for growing pea plants.
Fill your pot a few inches from the top with potting soil and mix in fertilizer if your potting soil does not come with fertilizer. Sow pea seeds two inches into the garden and keep the soil moist as your seeds germinate.
Growing Peas in Raised Beds
Like most plants, peas do not do well in wet soil after thawing. If the soil is too damp and you cannot wait for it to warm up and dry out in the sun, plant peas in a raised garden bed.
Raised beds offer more control over growing plants, similar to growing peas in pots. Fill the raised bed with potting soil and fertilizer or an inoculant to help your peas get the nutrients they need once germination occurs.
Growing peas in raised beds also limits the risk of soil-borne diseases targeting your plants. Pests that live in the soil also struggle to reach peas grown in beds off the ground.
Caring for Pea Plants
If you’re growing peas in garden beds, add organic matter mulch around the plants to keep weeds away. Depending on your growing zone, the spring season is typically moist, so keeping the soil damp may not be a concern, but protecting your plants from weeds should be.
Common diseases that may affect pea plants like powdery mildew, wilt, and pea enation mosaic virus are avoidable by growing a resistant heirloom seed like Oregon Sugar Pod II.
Monitor your plants for signs of damage from common pests like cutworms, pea moths, and aphids. Install row covers to protect your plants from moths. Pick off larger pests by hand or spray your plants with a homemade insecticide to kill minor bugs.
Combine two cups of water with fragrance-free liquid soap into a spray bottle. Adding an oil, like cooking oil or horticultural oil, is optional, but it increases the effectiveness of your spray and improves its shelf life. Add oil and soap and mix one teaspoon of this mixture for each cup of water used in the spray.
Common Pea Types
Whether you decide to grow your peas in the garden or a pot, selecting the right type of pea is crucial. Although it does not take much work to grow pea plants, knowing which kind of pea you want is essential.
When growing peas in a container, select a variety of bush peas to avoid introducing a pea trellis for a vining pea variety.
Sweet peas, better known as English peas or garden peas, are shelling peas. Once harvested, gardeners shell peas from their pod before using them.
Sugar snap peas are peas that do not need their shell removed before consumption. Sugar peas grow fresh peas in edible pods that are excellent additions to stir-fry dishes and salads.
Snow peas are another type of plant with an edible pea pod. Gardeners harvest these pea pods while unripe for cooking and use the pea shoots in dishes.
How Much Sun do Peas Need to Grow?
Although pea plants are cool-season crops, they enjoy growing in full sun for the best results. For pea plants grown inside your home, use a grow light to provide your plants with enough sun to promote healthy growth indoors.
If you’re growing peas in a warmer growing zone and provide your garden with partial shade during part of the day, this will not harm your pea plants, but partial shade may cause your peas to grow slower.
When harvesting peas, plants grown in partial shade may also have yields that are not as sweet or productive compared to plants grown in full sunlight daily.
With so many options for locations to sow pea seeds, there’s no reason not to start growing your pea garden at home. We hope that our article answered essential questions like “How much sun do peas need?” and “Where do peas grow?” to aid you in successfully growing peas in the next growing season.
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