Winter is long and tedious for most gardeners because they’re idle with little or nothing to grow. What if I tell you it doesn’t have to be that way any longer?
Snow peas have come to rescue you from the long winter months of staring at your seeds and garden equipment idling away in your garden shed. This cold season crop is easy to grow and produces lots of yummy pods. It has a mild flavor, and kids love it, unlike Brussels sprouts. Growing snow peas can be a family project with your kids; trust me, they’ll love it.
Like most of my growing guides, I’ll be looking to simplify the growing process for snow peas and make it straightforward for even a first time gardener to follow. Let’s jump right in.
Types of Peas
There are three major types of peas
- Snap peas: As the name implies, it is snappy and can be eaten at any stage of its growth. Its pod and seeds are also edible.
- Shelling peas: Here, only the seeds are edible
- Snow peas: This is grown for the pods and is usually harvested before the seed matures fully.
Popular Snow Peas Varieties
There are several snow peas varieties, but we’ll only see a few popular ones you can grow.
- Oregon Giant
The, Oregon giant snow peas species produce huge pods, about 5 inches long. They’re crispy and sweet, arguably one of the most precious variety. With a sturdy vine, it can hold the giant peas without breaking. You may, however, decide to stake it for optimum growth. The pods may be significant, but the plants not so much as the only grow to about 2 to 3 feet tall. It is powdery, mildew, and wilt resistant.
- Yellow Podded
The yellow podded snow peas are one of the oldest snow peas varieties dating back to as early as 1860. The plant grows up to 6 feet tall, so it needs to be staked for support. They are fast growers, and you are likely to receive a bountiful harvest if you plant this variety. The pods are slightly yellow as against the typical green color of most species. They produce pink and purple flowers, which will form a nice contrast in your garden.
- Mammoth Melting
Mammoth melting is a popular snow peas variety in the California area. It produces large pods of up to 5 inches in length with equally long vines. Because of the vines (up to 6 feet), it needs to be staked for support. They take between 60 to 75 days to mature.
- Dwarf Grey Sugar
This is an old heirloom variety that grows close to the ground, about 30 inches tall with sturdy vine, and therefore does not need to be staked. They are popular because of their edible purple flowers and early harvest. Their pods can be eaten raw, used in stir-fries or salads.
Even though snow peas are relatively easy to grow, they still require some conditions to be met for a bountiful harvest.
- Cool-weather: As already stated, snow peas are cool-season plants that grow comfortably in the winter.
- Full or partial shade: Snow peas may like the cold weather, but they still need to receive a fair amount of sunlight daily.
- Loose and fertile soil: For your snow peas to grow correctly, it needs soil rich in phosphorus and potassium. It also needs to be flexible so the roots can penetrate.
- Needs support: Most varieties need staking to support it. Trellises are an excellent way to provide this support even when growing them in containers.
When to Plant the Snow Peas?
The best time to plant is 4 to 6 weeks before your last frost date, ideally when the soil reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful as the snow pea will rot if the ground is too cold. You can make use of row covers to keep the soil warm for a few weeks after planting.
You’ve known the conditions necessary for a bountiful harvest and the best time to grow, what next to do you need to do? You need to set up everything.
- Choose your variety: From the numerous snow peas variety, you need to select the type that’ll suit your climate and garden needs.
- Select a suitable land: You want a location with reasonably loose soil and a place that receives up to 7 hours of sunlight daily.
- Work the ground: make use of a tractor like John Deere 650 to loosen the earth.
- Add fertilizer: add fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorus to the soil. Bone and blood meal fertilizers are an excellent place to start.
- Inoculate the seeds: Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours and then dip them in nitrogen-fixing bacterium powder. Do this a day before planting for optimum results.
How to Grow Snow Peas
It is recommended to grow snow peas from seeds and not seedlings as they have sensitive roots and do not like to be transplanted. I’ll show you how you can achieve this without stress.
Use your fingers to poke double row holes into the ground. The rows should be 2 feet apart and the holes 1 inch deep, while you strive for a 4-inch space between gaps in the same row. This is, so the snow peas have enough space to spread their vine and make it possible to harvest. The double row planting makes it easier for the plants to be staked. Drop a seed into each hole and cover with soil.
How to Care for Snow Peas
Planting the snow peas is one thing; harvesting is another. To ensure you get a good harvest, you must take proper care of the snow peas.
Water the seeds deeply immediately after planting to initiate the germination process. Because snow peas seeds are prone to rot, you may want to cut down on the watering before sprouting. Once it grows, water lightly once a week or whenever you notice the soil getting dry.
Most snow peas species require support, and you can offer it that support by staking. After sprouting, the peas begin to form long vines from where the pods come out. It would be best if you raised it from the ground.
The use of trellises and support system will help the peas produce more and healthier pods. You can make use of ropes on sticks, chicken wires, or even tomato cages.
Make sure to weed around the plant immediately you notice the growth of weeds. This will remove all competition your plant will have for limited nutrients.
- Add Fertilizer
After the first picking, apply fertilizer to the plant to boost its growth. A slow-release fertilizer will work best.
Depending on the snow peas species, it takes about 65 days to start forming. It is best to pick them before the pods swell (before the seeds mature) if you want to eat the pods. If you want just the peas, you can let the peas full the pods.
Pick the pods every 2 to 3 days and remember the pods are best when they’re eaten fresh. Keep excess pods frozen to preserve them.
Pests and Diseases
To get a bountiful harvest, you need to watch out for pests and diseases.
- Pea moth
- Bean white mold
- Cucumber mosaic virus
- Lettuce mosaic virus
- Downey mildew
- Pea wilt
Buy disease-resistant varieties, build cages around your snow peas vegetation to keep animals out, and pick the pods as soon as possible to keep pests and diseases at a minimum.
With snow peas, your winter can never be dull anymore. You’ll be able to add green to your garden while providing great pods for you and your family to snack on.