Passionate vegetable gardeners are motivated by something deep inside, whether it is controlling their own food sources, learning a new skill or the sense of pride that emanates from nurturing a plant until it reaches your dinner table.
All of those reasons fit my profile, but an even more important reason is to teach my kids healthy eating habits and the benefits of organic, non-GMO, locally grown food.
Truth is, espousing the virtues of eating veggies grown chemical-free isn’t all that exciting to three kids under 10. But the more involved they are in the entire activity of gardening, from seed saving to harvest, the more curious eaters they’ve become.
The moment fresh green pea shoots start popping against the dull brown background of the soil, my threesome are hooked. They search for new pods daily, picking and popping so often none of our peas ever made the trek inside the house. Growing peas is an adventure with your time, we’ll explain even more reasons why:
Does Growing Peas Fit The Formula?
The formula. Our complex algorithm for calculating the percentage of space allotted for each individual plant.
Well…it’s not really that complex. Or much of a calculation at all.
Just three questions asked and answered with some 1st grade math applied to it. We explain our space planning formula in more detail here if you want to full deal, but suffice it to say we ask ourselves these three questions and answer each with a score of 1-5, (five being best):
- How Much Space Will This Plant Take Up vs. How Much it Will Yield?
- Is it Cost-Effective to Grow vs. Buy Organic at the Grocery Store?
- Does our Family Eat This Plant and is it Healthy?
And with that, here is our conclusion on growing Peas:
Peas get started early in the spring, even if frost beckons, before just about anything else in the garden is under much consideration. This results in an early harvest which permits a succession planting after the peas have passed, maximizing my space. I usually throw in some Cauliflower or maybe Spinach in the space where the Peas were.
Also, I built a simple A-frame hinged trellis (which I’ll show you how to make in an upcoming video) for under $30 that helps the Peas climb vertically, saving even more space. Inside the A-frame, as the Peas grow up the faces. I plant all kinds of Lettuce. This dense planting works and treasures every available inch.
Often dry, crumbly or presenting that meaty flavor that arises from being on the vine too long, store bought Peas find the compost pile more than the stomach.
As I mentioned above, the last few years they don’t even make it into any prepared dishes – they get gobbled up off the vine by my herbivores (i.e. kids).
As for health, I never considered Peas a superfood, they don’t get much press in that regard, but I was surprised to find their health benefits are vast.
They lower the risk of stomach cancer, are high in Vitamin K, Manganese, Fiber, Omega-3 fats and Protein. For a tasty little morsel, they sure pack a vitamin punch.
Makes growing peas a slam dunk for the backyard garden!
Peas Grow Guide
|Timing||Seed Depth and Spacing||Row Spacing||Support System|
|Peas produce poorly in hot weather, so get them in the ground about a month before your average last frost date.||Pea seeds are large and easy to work with, drop them in approximately 1 inch holes, 2 inches apart from one another for a dense thicket of pea vines and pods!||Thinning is not necessary for peas, matter of fact you can plant a double row on each side of your support trellis (which brings us to…)||Pea vines need your support, so give them something to grab onto a climb! Building a 6 ft high trellis has always served us well and allows for dense plantings and easy to reach harvests|
Companion Plants for Growing Peas
Peas are a friend to most other garden vegetables and herbs because they work in concert with soil bacteria to capture nitrogen from the air and make it available for the surrounding soil party. Here’s how it works, without getting all scientific on you:
- The bacteria and Peas work together to capture nitrogen from the air
- The Peas take up the nitrogen for their growth
- They then release carbohydrates into the soil and back to the bacteria.
- Everybody goes home happy!
Now, when the Peas are turned under after their grow cycle is complete, the nitrogen migrates back into the soil, which other plants love! It’s a natural and more complex form of nitrogen so it’s easier for other plants to access and far superior to chemical fertilizers.
Companions for peas are many including bush beans, pole beans, carrots, celery, chicory, corn, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, early potato, radish, spinach, strawberry, sweet pepper, tomatoes and turnips.
Keep Your Distance
The list of plants that are hindered by Peas is much smaller but includes Chives, Grapes, Potatoes and Onions.
Pea Recipes That Will Rock Your Senses
- Five Ingredient Simple Green Pasta Salad: Light, fresh, easy and yet bursts with flavor that lingers in your mouth.
- Oven Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs, Sugar Snap Peas and Quinoa: The technique for preparing the thighs keeps them juicy and flavorful while the fresh snap peas add texture and sweetness to balance the dish.
- Spring Pea Miso Soup: This could be the perfect expression of peas – sweet, bright, creamy and balanced with hearty chickpeas to make it a mouthful worth savoring.
- Aloo Gobi-ish: We eat so much Indian food in our house because it’s flavor packed and healthy. Aloo Gobi is a weekly go-to meal and while it’s mostly Curried Cauliflower and Potato, the finishing touch of Peas brings it all together.
- Pasta Carbonara with Peas: My Italian grandmother, after crafting countless heavy meals of Lasagna, Sausages, Meatballs and Manicotti, would give our waistline a break with this lighter, classic Italian fare.