Home gardeners rarely grow the traditional English peas that require shelling any more. They have been replaced by the Sugar Snap pea and its kin that have been developed with edible pods. They grow as vines and require staking and a lattice or trellis to climb on. High production and edible pods along with sweet flavor make all the trouble worth it. Newer varieties with bush type habit do not produce as much. Snap peas were developed by crossing the English pea with the Asian snow pea to produce an edible pod that is less fibrous than the English pea and rounded and fuller than the flat snow pea. They can be eaten raw or cooked.
Plant as early as the first of February in the South. In Northern climates they should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Seeds should be placed about two to three inches apart.
Staking can be done in many ways from sticking tree branches into the ground, the most rustic method, to building elaborate tripods. If a fence is available nets can be attached to a fence to accommodate them. Tomato cages work great and can be re-used for years.
Like Cowpeas they are able to take nitrogen from the atmosphere. Treat them with an inoculant to aide the process. One package will normally take care of the gardener’s needs for the early Snap Pea crop as well as the later Cowpeas.
As an early crop peas are a target for early spring insect pests especially aphids. For chewing insects and aphids keep the plants dusted with Nature’s Guide Diatomaceous Earth.
Nature’s Guide Tomato and Pepper Food mixed well into the top three or four inches of soil a week or two before planting will provide extra nutrition for pea production.
Pods can be tough if allowed to grow too large. Pick before they are longer than four inches and pick often to encourage more production.
Shred or chop the old vines and add to the compost pile.
Sugar Snap Peas