Pea planting plans |

Pea planting plans

I love to eat fresh shucked peas like candy. Fortunately, peas are easy to grow. St Paddy’s Day is pea planting time, because they must be planted early so they flower and set pods before the heat of summer. However, we may have to delay planting a week or so this year if soils are excessively wet or cold.

Garden or English peas are grown for their seeds; snow peas, sugar peas and sugar snap peas are grown for their edible pods. Peas require good-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.7. If you mix in an 8-16-16 (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) fertilizer just before planting, your peas shouldn’t need any further nitrogen during the growing season. Peas thrive with regular watering, particularly at flowering.

Soak peas overnight in warm water prior to planting to improve germination. Sow the seeds about 1-inch deep and 2-3 inches apart. Later, thin plants to 4 inches apart. Low-growing varieties can be grown in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Climbing varieties should be planted with 3 feet between rows. Planting in succession will extend your harvest.

Some good varieties for shelled peas are ‘Dakota’ (57 days to harvest), ‘Green Arrow’ (68 days, cold-tolerant) and ‘Lincoln’ (67 days, heat-tolerant).

Edible pod-types good for high desert gardening include ‘Sugar Ann’ (56 days, compact plants) and ‘Sugar Snap’ (66 days, vining habit, cold- and heat-tolerant).

To eat peas raw, pick them as soon as the pods are well-filled. Eat snow peas when they are very young, just as the seeds start to form. If you wait too long the pods will be tough. Sugar snap peas have a thicker pod with larger and sweeter seeds.

Believe it or not, it’s gardening time again!

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at