Peas picked straight from the garden have a sweet flavor that seems to melt in your mouth. Watch the peas carefully in the summertime because even one day can make a tremendous difference when harvesting. Too early and the peas will be small. Too late they can be hard and bitter.
Keep an eye on the lower part of the pea plant because those peas will usually be ready first. Harvest the peas when the pods are bright green, plump and slightly swollen. Then, be sure to harvest the peas every day to every few days as they become ready.
Use the peas as soon as possible after picking for best flavor. If you are unable to use them immediately, store them in the refrigerator for no longer than three days. To freeze the peas, blanch them in boiling water for about two minutes and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Drain the peas, and freeze them in plastic bags or containers. Frozen peas last up to a year.
Peas fall into two main varieties, garden peas that need shelling, and edible-pod peas that are eaten shell and all. Snow peas, sugar snap peas and Chinese pea pods are eaten in the pod, raw or cooked. Garden peas, snap peas and snow peas are cool-weather vegetables suitable for the garden in most parts of the U.S. Plant peas in the early spring or fall since they prefer cooler weather.
Choose a well-drained site with well drained soil and plenty of sun. Peas do better in full sun or partial shade. Dig the soil well to loosen and aerate it. Work compost or well-rotted manure into the soil.
Plant peas early in the spring once the soil temperature reaches 45 degrees F. Plant several successions to spread the crop out. The exception to this tip is to plant a large amount all at once to be able to freeze amounts for later use. Peas can also be planted in the fall to provide another succession of peas, but be sure to allow enough time to ripen.
Provide support so the peas can climb. Peas are natural climbers and will produce better, and lessen the chance of rotting, if they are able to climb a fence, trellis, twigs, poles or other support.
Water the seeds thoroughly after planting and then keep the soil moist. Water the plants early in the day to allow the foliage to dry during the day.
Peas have shallow roots and can be easily injured by weeding so take care when weeding. Keeping the weeds under control by frequent weeding helps the pea plants as they won’t get disturbed when pulling large weeds.
Harvest garden peas when the pods become full and plump. Hold the stem in one hand and pick the pea with the other hand to avoid damaging the plant. Pick the peas daily keep the plants producing and ensure that your peas are young and tender. Pick early for small, sweet peas, if preferred. Harvest sugar snap peas when the pods are fully formed and the peas are just beginning to plump. Snow peas are picked when the seeds just start to form, while the pods are still flat. Continue harvesting daily until the last peas are picked.
Once the growing season is over, pull the plants up by the roots after the last harvest and compost them.