Pea plants complete their lifecycle within one year, making them a favored annual in the veggie garden. Peas are a rewarding crop to grow with their high yields and add nutrients to the soil, making them highly functional.
Starting with seed germination and then developing leaves, the peas will begin to flower and self-pollinate. After the dainty flowers have pollinated, they will set the pods to reproduce and start their cycle again.
One great reason to start growing peas in your garden is they can be planted in either fall or early Spring, giving a good growing and harvesting period. And let’s face it- who doesn’t like harvesting their own sweet crisp peas?!
What Are The Growing Stages Of Peas?
The initial stage of the pea’s life starts with germination within 7-14 days of planting. Peas prefer being planted directly in the ground or soil rather than transplanted as seedlings. They can be somewhat fussy if the roots are disturbed when planting peas.
Choose a sunny location where they will receive 4-5 hours of direct sunlight daily.
To speed up the germination process of peas, soak them in water overnight before planting. This will soften the outer shell and enable the case to break sooner. Plant peas in fall or spring to have enough time before the hot summer months kick in.
To plant the pea seeds in the ground, create rows 7 inches apart and plant the peas 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Ensure the soil is well-drained and you have enough space for a trellis or frame for the peas to climb.
When selecting the location for the peas, ensure the height of the climbing frame will not block the light to other plants when fully grown.
Peas will begin germination in temperatures of 40-70°F; if the soil is any cooler than 40, the peas will rot and disintegrate.
2. Leaf Growth
After the germination stage of the peas, they will begin to grow a stem and their first set of leaves. Many people grow pea shoots as a microgreen, which look very pretty when harvested and used as a garnish on meals.
As the pea’s foliage continues to grow, the vine will become longer and start to produce tendrils-these are the long thin arms they use to wrap around structures.
By this point, you want to make sure you have something in place for your peas to grow onto. The leaves of the peas grow facing upwards and open gradually from the center as they recipe the sunlight.
After the peas have grown their vines for 4-6 weeks, they will begin the flowering stage.
Peas require no higher than 70°F (21°C) to flower, making them an ideal cool-season crop. When the peas bloom, they can tolerate temperatures as low as 50F (10°C) and can handle a light frost.
Depending on the variety of peas you grow will determine where on the plant the flowers will emerge. The blooms will rise from the leaf’s axles if you produce a vining type such as super sugar snap.
In contrast, bush-type peas like dwarf gray sugar will flower at the end of the branch.
During this time, peas need little or no fertilizer unless grown in containers. You can use a 5-10-10 fertilizer to give them a boost. This combination is low in nitrogen and high in potassium and phosphate, which they need for flowering.
Using rotted manure or high-nitrogen fertilizer during this time will encourage foliage growth instead of flowering, so it’s best to avoid it. Peas are self-pollinating, so they don’t require any help from insects to carry the pollen.
Almost all parts of the pea plants are edible, so you can use these ornate flowers to jazz up one of your dishes!
After flowering for 5-8 days, peas will begin to set their pods, and this can take 8-12 weeks from planting. The pods will form from the center of the flower, and you will see that the petals will drop from around the edge, leaving the sepal to hold onto the vine.
If you are growing shell pea varieties such as garden peas, you can harvest them when the pods have swelled and are cylindrical.
If you are growing peas that are sugar snap or have an edible pod, they can be harvested when they have reached 2-3 inches long or before the seeds begin to swell.
If the peas are left on the vine, they will get to their final stage of life, where the pods will dry out, eventually drop off the vine and release the new peas into the ground.
It’s a great idea to leave a few pods on the vine to do this, as you will have a supply of seeds for the following season.
Your peas will continue to produce flowers and pods while you are harvesting, so the more you pick, the more they will grow!
The seeds saved from this crop have endured your garden’s climate and conditions and are more resilient than those bought from the store.
Signs Your Peas Are Ready To Harvest
After witnessing the flowering stage of the peas, keep an eye on the pods forming to understand the best time to harvest. Signs to look out for when your pea pods are growing to differ depending on the variety you are growing.
Here are some signs with the different types:
- Snow Peas – Edible pods will produce peas inside and should be picked before the pods start to swell
- Snap Peas – Edible pods, will become plump and glossy and harvest when the peas inside are well-rounded.
- Garden Peas grown for shelling – Pods will become cylindrical and long -best harvested before the pods become waxy.
Some other signs to look for that are generic among varieties are:
- Peas should be touching inside the pod.
- Pods will be crisp.
- When squeezing, they should be firm.
- The color of the pods should be bright to dark green; this is when they are at their best.
If peas have been on the vine for too long, their pods will turn yellow and lose glossiness.
These peas are best used as seeds for the following year.
How Long Does It Take For Peas To Grow?
Most peas varieties will take about 60 days to grow before they are ready for harvest. Once temperatures exceed 85°F, they will stop growing and producing flowers.
June is usually the month the peas will stop producing if they have been planted in spring. Peas will grow slower if planted in the part shade, so adequate sunlight is needed for the quickest crop.
If you are growing produce in the fall, you can expect them to be ready for harvest between 70-80 days. If planting a crop in mid-season, you should allow 60 to 70 days before harvest.
Pea Plant Problems
Although peas are a very rewarding crop to grow and can provide you with a bumper crop of crispy sweet peas, you can encounter a fair share of problems with them too.
Some of the problems to look out for when growing peas are:
- Seeds fail to germinate – This can be due to the temperature of the soil- make sure your soil is 65-70F for germination for 7-12 days. Another cause can be seed corn maggots or cabbage grubs that are in the soil. Avoid planting during the damp, wet conditions that the larvae thrive in, and wait until the weather is drier.
- Cutworm infestation – These grey grubs live under the soil and will chew away at the roots, leaves, and stems. Use wood ash around the base of the plant or a paper collar to prevent them from surfacing to the stem.
- Root rot and crown rot – Stunted growth, vines are dull in color, and the roots absent are all signs of root rot. Root rot results from poor draining soil and should be amended for better results.
- Aphid infestation – these tiny pests will leave a trail of honeydew behind as they suck the goodness from your plant. Keep an eye out for them and use a diluted neem oil and soap solution to control the numbers.
- Leaf miner larvae – You will see a tunnel formed on the leaves’ surface; the only way to get rid of them is to destroy the leaves and turn over the soil to prevent the larvae from hatching.
These are some of the most common pea plant problems you might encounter, so be ready with the necessary weapons you may need to save your peas!
Harvesting a big bowl of peas from your garden is highly rewarding, and they are a great crop to grow through the majority of the year, providing you have the right conditions.
The main points to look out for when growing peas are the soil temperature for germination, something for them to climb on, so they don’t get in a tangled mess on the floor, and enough sunlight and water.
With all these requirements met, you can ensure a successful crop. Peas are a great nitrogen fixer so keep this in mind when choosing a place to plant. Be sure to save a heap of seeds for the following growing season; as you grow them, your peas will become the most robust variety for your garden-call them your personal peas!