You may think that growing peas is too hard, or that your garden is not suitable for growing peas. Well, you would be wrong. It turns out that peas are not overly difficult to grow and actually require very little attention to grow successfully. Let's explore tips, tricks, and information to help you in growing peas in your own back yard.
Sowing the Seeds
Peas will grow best in a soil that is a fertile, sandy loam that drains well, but they will grow in just about anything besides heavy, impeccable clays. A soil pH level of 6 to 7.5 is best for growing peas. If your soil is too acidic work in agricultural lime or dolomite to bring the acidity down. Peas can be started in indoor pots, but it is important to keep in mind that most varieties of pea plant do not make the transition from indoor to outdoor too well, so it is best just to start your peas outside. Don't worry if you think it is too cold for them to germinate successfully, peas can and will sprout in soils with temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but it will take them a little bit longer.
When sowing your pea seeds be sure to sow them in wide rows, but make sure that all your rows are thick with seed about an inch deep into the soil. When peas are sown close together the shade from the plant keeps the soil cool, shade out weeds, increase your overall yield of peas, and make the most efficient use of your gardening space. Broadcast your pea seeds in a row. Do not worry if seeds are touching one another. If you are planting in the spring time cover your seed with one-inch of soil, but if you are planting in the summer with an eye on a fall yield, cover your seeds with two-inches of soil. Do not thin your pea plants when they start to germinate.
When preparing or maintaining a site for pea growth it is essential that you remember that peas are light eaters. Therefore you do not need to apply a lot of fertilizer in the areas where you intend to grow peas. If peas are over-fertilized they will grow more lush vegetation at the expense of producing pods of peas.
Peas need to be watered deeply once a week. Make sure the soil never completely dries out or else you will severely limit the amount of pods you will be able to produce. Your watering schedule must change once the peas reach a maturity level where they are blooming and producing pods. At this stage of pea development it may be necessary for you to water the peas at least once a day in order to maintain pod quality. The key is to make sure the soil and the pods never completely dry out, so use your best judgement in order to keep them hydrated.
If you want your peas to grow fast plant them in raised beds. These beds warm up faster than the surrounding earth because they are closer to the sun. Mulching is a great way to accommodate pea growth on your site too. Since peas' roots do not grow that deep it is important to keep the soil around the roots moist and cool. Feel free to lay down chopped leaves, compost, or straw after you peas reach a height of two-inches. Add more mulch as necessary to keep the roots cool, and the pod production up.
Diseases and Insects
Peas are great because there are few insects and diseases that do affect them. The insect that you need to be on the look out for are the Aphids. This is the only pest that will pay much mind to your peas, and controlling them is simple enough. Just spray them with cold water and knock them to the ground. However, if the infestation is heavy you may need to use insecticidal soap spray or another common product to remove them. If you haven't planted disease resistant peas Aphids can spread the mosaic virus, so take care of these little bugs as soon as you see them.
Powdery mildew is the most prevalent disease in peas. This usually occurs when the weather gets warmer. Mosaic virus, fusarium wilt, root tot, and pea leaf roll virus are other disease that can occur in peas but are much less likely than powdery mildew. A few ways you can avoid pea disease is to plant disease-resistant strains of peas in your gardens, or practice crop rotation to make sure that your plants aren't suffering from soil-borne illnesses.
You are going to have to check your pea pods with sight and feel to know when they are ready for harvest. Pods that are round, firm, and have a nice green sheen are ready to be harvested. Pods that have a dull green color or have seeds that have made ridges on the shell are past their prime. Snap pea and snow snap pea varieties of pea can be picked at any time, but they are the best when the pods still have some play around the seeds. You can tell how much play around the seed there is by squeezing it lightly.
Pick the pods carefully. As discussed, peas have shallow root systems. It is very easy to damage them while harvesting. Use two-hands and gently remove the pods from the vine. The more you harvest the more you will yield, so pick your peas every day or every other day to encourage pod production and to get the most out of your pea plants!