How to Grow Sugar Snap Peas



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Days to germination: 10 to 12 days
Days to harvest: 60 to 100 days
Light requirements: Full sun to light shading
Water requirements: Regular watering
Soil: Added inoculant can help (see below)
Container: Bush varieties work best

Introduction

Of all the pea varieties out there, the sugar snap pea is quickly becoming one of the most popular type because you don’t need to shell the peas out of their pods. You still can of course, but the sweet edible pods mean a less time-consuming crop since you can just eat the peas and pod together.

These shouldn’t be confused with snow peas either. Snow peas are grown for their flat (and somewhat empty) pods, but sugar snap peas do have full-sized peas within the pods.

There are varieties that will require a trellis or support, but some are the bush-type that should stand fine on their own. Maturity dates come in a wide range, so you can choose peas that are ready to eat in just 2 months, or those that will take more than 3.

Sugar snap peas are delicious either raw or cooked, and they provide a good source of folic acid and vitamins B1, K and C.

Starting from Seed

Peas of all types have delicate root systems, so it’s not recommended that you try to start seedlings for later transplant. Since peas are already planted very early in the season, there is usually little need to get a head-start for your plants.

You can put your pea seed out as soon as your weather has warmed the soil enough to thaw. If you can dig, then you can plant. This will usually be 4 to 6 weeks before your expected final frost date. The only downside to such early planting is that the seeds can be prone to rotting. Most pea seed is sold treated with fungicide to counteract this, but you can buy untreated seed if you prefer. If you do so, you should sow heavily because more of your seed will rot before sprouting.

Prepare your soil with a thorough digging (particularly if you are in an area where the ground freezes solid over the winter). One addition you may want to make is inoculant. You can buy it at any garden store, and it’s a natural additive that helps with peas’ natural ability to take up nitrogen from the soil. It’s not necessary, but pea plants can grow much better with a sprinkling of inoculant added at planting.

Vining peas can be planted closer together than bushing peas, so plan your space out accordingly. Bush peas will need about a foot of space between each plant, but vining peas can really just be sown along a row without worrying about the exact space. They can tolerate being very close to each as long as they have room to grow upwards. Either way, the seeds need to be about an inch under the soil.

Growing Instructions

Don’t let your plants totally dry out, but peas are generally fine with regular rainfall. Give them a good drink once a week if it hasn’t been raining.

If you are growing peas that vine, you’ll want a trellis or some other kind of support to hold up the vines. It’s best to have this in place soon after planting so you don’t damage the plants later on.

Peas grow quickly and can usually outpace the weeds, but keep your pea patch fairly weed-free as the summer progresses. Roots are shallow and tender, so don’t dig too deeply with a hoe around the plants.

Containers

Sugar snap peas can be grown fine in containers, but you’ll have the best success with bush variety. Peas that are naturally more dwarf are even better. Sugar Ann is particularly excellent for containers, and it matures very quickly too (less than 60 days).

Pots should be at least 12″ across and 12″ deep for each pea plant. Even potted plants will benefit from the same inoculant mentioned above. Just add some to the soil as per the package directions.

Potted peas have the added bonus that you can move them during the hotter months into a shadier location, extending the life (and productivity) of your plants.

Pests and Diseases

Pea moths are the biggest insect pest for peas, though it’s actually their caterpillar larvae that do the damage not the moths themselves. Moths lay their eggs on your pea plants, just in time for the grubs to eat your developing peas. Insect sprays can help, but you can also plant early maturing peas as well. They usually grow their peas before the pea moth is out.

Because the pods are less tough than regular green peas, they are more vulnerable to chewing insect pests such as slugs and even cucumber beetles. Pick off these bugs when you see them, and spray your plants with natural pyrethrin insecticides to keep them away.

Harvest and Storage

It’s at harvest time that sugar snap peas are different from traditional shelling peas. Once the pods start to develop, you don’t necessarily have to wait until the peas inside have grown. You can start to pick your sugar snap peas whenever you wish, though you’ll get more of a crop if you wait until the peas have started to fill out the pod.

Hot weather will kill your plants, so as the temperature goes up, you’ll find your plants will stop producing new pea pods. If you can give your plants some shade, they will keep producing for a longer period. Yield can widely vary depending on the plant type, but in general you will get more peas from vines than bushes.

Fresh, they can be stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks before they start to go limp. For longer storage you can can or freeze them. They can be frozen intact or you can just freeze the shelled peas if you prefer. Either way, you will need to blanche them in boiling water for a minute or two before freezing so they retain their color and texture.

15 Responses to “How to Grow Sugar Snap Peas”

  1. Tom Armstrong  Says:

    Do rabbits, deer, and/or or woodchucks / ground hogs eat the plants or pods while they;re growing?

  2. B Moore  Says:

    They are the closest thing to ice cream for deer…I use electric fencing to grow them commercially…

  3. Marlee Nicholas  Says:

    We planted sugar snap peas (North Florida). They came up great but disappeared. Same thing happened with the snow peas–what is taking them and what do I do?

  4. Kate  Says:

    HI
    Our sugar snap pea vines are drying out…not huge producers..either.
    Getting plenty water
    We are in the south east, Bluffton, near Hilton Head Island.
    Our soil is sand but this past year we ammended it w lots of horse manure.We have replanted.
    Help..please

  5. Jennifer  Says:

    My peas are in a container, full sun. They’ve been doing great, flowers and pods all coming in but all of a sudden the leaves are yellowing. What’s the best way to check what might be wrong? I appreciate any suggestions.

    Jennifer from Denver

  6. Dave  Says:

    My first year with snap peas, having great success. Live in Anchorage so temps are mostly cool, each plant having 15-20 flowers already.

  7. Summer Carrion  Says:

    Hi, I’ve had wonderful luck with peas here in Indiana. Yellow leaves probably means too much water or too small pots. To keep animals from eating your pods you can plant garlic, cilantro (which grows fast and spreads easily between plants) or hot peppers right in with your pea crop. The strong smells help hide the sweet smell of the pea. You can also spray the leaves with a mixture of organic soap (just enough to make the mix sticky) and chili powder. Animals really don’t like that but you have to remember to rinse them before you eat them yourself! And for the one with the sand , try building a box out of 1×8 boards then filling with an organic potting soil. be careful not to get sstarting mix ad this has little to no nutrient value. then mulch lightly over the seeds before they sprout. This should help retain moisture and give much needed nutrient to your young plants. Good luck all!

  8. Judy  Says:

    We get a lot of rain in the spring here. After planting my pea seeds I run a wire down the length of the row, about 2 to 3 feet off of the ground & tent plastic over the row until the plants have sprouted. This prevents the seed from rotting in too wet soil. Also, I have planted bush peas & discovered that if they have no strings or trellis to climb they just make a tangled up mess all over the ground. I do the wires high & low with string zigzagged between & the bush type usually grow 4 feet or more up the twine.

  9. chris mckittrick  Says:

    Enjoyed article about sugar snap peas. Ive been telling my husband that we need to plant them earlier than the rest of the garden. We’ll try this year!! We’ll let you know!!

  10. Carla  Says:

    Can I plant snap peas in late summer to harvest a fall crop?

  11. Kim  Says:

    Do the plants die completely when it starts to get hot, or do they just stop producing pea pods? If they do not die completely, will they start to produce again in the fall?

  12. C.j.  Says:

    My sugar snap pea plants are over 2 ft tall with no blossoms. Its been about 3 months since planting.

  13. Margie  Says:

    What is the growing season for sugar snap peas? The first ones I grew did well in the spring. This last bunch is turning brown much earlier, so I assume it’s the heat since it is hotter.

  14. John  Says:

    Is it wise to soak pea seed in water before planting?

  15. Mary Gerrity  Says:

    Can I plant snap peas in late summer to harvest a fall crop?

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