Also known as garden peas, shelling peas, snap peas, sugar peas, sugar snap peas, snow peas, Chinese peas, edible-podded peas,
Pisum sativum Leguminosae Family
Peas are not actually a vegetable but a small, edible legume and as such they belong to the same family as lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts. Peas grow in pods on a vine and once the pod is plump, they are ripe for picking.
Like sweet corn, peas are at their tastiest immediately after harvest. Nutritionally, there is little difference between fresh and frozen peas, making frozen a useful and cost-effective alternative. Whether you choose shell or edible-pod peas, they grow best during spring and early summer when temperatures are between 60 F to 75 F.
Pea Planting Tips
Shell peas (var. sativum): You remove the peas from the fibrous pod. Some varieties (petite pois) are bred to be picked when small.
Edible-podded peas (var. macrocarpon): You eat the plump pods and peas together. Often called snap peas. Snow peas belong to this group, but have flat pods.
Dry peas or field peas (var. arvense): You allow these to mature and harden, then dry, store and cook for soups and other dishes.
Look for different maturity dates and heights. Some bush varieties grow just 1 to 2 feet tall and need little or no support. Bush varieties produce a determinate number of flowers and fruit. Viny types may grow 5 to 6 feet or more and need trellising for good yields and easy picking. They continue producing an indeterminant number of flowers and fruit over a prolonged period.
If growing fall crops, look for powdery-mildew-resistant varieties.
Last updated May 15, 2023