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Choosing pea varieties for the home garden

Peas are among the first vegetables that can be planted in spring because they enjoy cooler weather. There are many different varieties of peas, including some that are dwarf and do not need staking and others that grow to 4 feet tall and require sturdy support.

Some pea varieties grow very well in containers with some branches used as support.
Some pea varieties grow very well in containers with some branches used as support.
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Choosing the right variety of peas depends on several things including if you want tall peas that require staking or short that do not.
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Peas can also be grown in containers, making it easy for urban gardeners to grow delicious food on balconies, porches and decks.

Here are some varieties of peas and their characteristics.

Tom Thumb peas originated in England and came to North America in the mid 19th century. These dwarf peas only get about 8 inches tall and are ideal for container gardening.

Green Arrow peas pods are nearly always grown in doubles, making these peas very prolific.

Wando peas are easy to find in most garden centers, big box stores and nurseries. It is both cold tolerant and can withstand some heat as well, making this a very versatile pea.

Mr Big pea is just that, big. Grown on 4 foot tall vines, these peas have usually 9 or 10 peas per pod.

You can find pea seeds available for sale at many garden centers, food co ops and big box stores. You can also find them on line at http://www.seedsavers.org and at http://www.botanicalinterests.com.

Harvest peas when the pods are plump, about 3 weeks after flowering. Peas that are too mature are tough, and will cause the plant to stop producing; to avoid that, harvest regularly when pods are at their peak. Be sure to hold the pea vine with one hand and pick pod with the other to avoid breaking the brittle vines. Also, when buying packages of pea seeds, consider buying a few extra to allow you to sow a fall crop as well.