If you enjoy eating fresh peas but aren’t crazy about the idea of picking and shelling bushels of pea pods, then sugar snap peas may be the perfect vegetable to plant in your home garden.
Sugar Snap Peas are delicious and just as easy to grow but eliminate the effort required to shell and prepare the peas for cooking.
With Sugar Snap Peas you get to eat the entire pod with the peas nestled inside. The pods are juicy, crisp, sweet, and crunchy, and in my opinion are best when enjoyed fresh and uncooked right from the garden.
Planting Sugar Snap Peas in the Garden
Edible Podded Peas enjoy cool weather growing conditions and can be planted during early spring, with a second crop planted during late summer for a fall harvest.
Sow Sugar Snap Peas about an inch deep after treating the seed with a nitrogen fixing inoculent designed for peas. The inoculent isn’t required but will help improve growth, result in higher yields, and increase the nitrogen levels “fixed” in your garden’s soil. The inoculant contains a natural bacteria and can be purchased at garden centers or organic gardening suppliers and seed companies on the Internet.
Sugar Snap Peas will grow well in raised beds, the biggest challenge is to space them out evenly. One planting technique is to lay all the seeds out on top of the prepared bed using the desired spacing pattern and the go back and use a finger to press the seeds to the proper depth. You can also make rows along the length of the raised bed, plant the seeds two inches apart and cover.
Care and Maintenance Tips
The peas will quickly germinate and begin growing so you should be prepared to provide some type of pea support to hold the plants upright as they grow taller. The dwarf varieties that only grow a foot or two in height will do fine without additional support from fencing, stakes, or trellis material.
Aside from weeding and watering when needed, there’s not much routine maintenance required to raise your crop of Sugar Snap Peas. The pea vines grow very fast and within a few weeks of planting you will notice blossoms that will quickly be followed by the developing pods.
Harvesting and Using Sugar Snap Peas
Harvest the Sugar Snap Peas when the pods are plump and have reached full size but to enjoy the best flavor don’t allow them to over mature or start to shrivel and dry out on the vines.
Sugar Snap Peas are often cooked by steaming or sauteing, but I think that they are at their best when simply harvested and enjoyed raw with absolutely no cooking. In fact the fresh pods are so delicious that you’ll be tempted to eat half of the harvest right there in the garden.
In addition to the pea pods you can also harvest and enjoy eating the flower blossoms and leafy plant tips or pea shoots. Just be sure that you don’t attempt to eat any portion of the varieties of ”sweet peas” that are grown as ornamental flowers and are not edible.
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