If you can’t wait for the first taste of produce out of your garden, an early spring pea variety might be the answer to your wishes. What are spring peas? These tasty legumes germinate when temperatures are still cool and grow rapidly, producing pods in as little as 57 days. Late summer is also a good time for growing spring peas, provided they are germinated in a cool location.
What are Spring Peas?
The Spring pea variety is a shelling pea. There are several other types of peas that are early producers but only this cultivar is called Spring pea. By all accounts, this is one of the sweetest pea varieties available. This is an easy-to-grow, low maintenance plant that offers a lot of flavor and yield.
The pea Spring plant is a medium sized variety with heart-shaped leaves and classic legume flowers. Mature plants will spread 8 inches (20 cm.) across and 20 inches (51 cm.) wide. The pods are 3 inches (7.6 cm.) long and can contain 6 to 7 plump peas. This heirloom variety is open pollinated.
Peas are best direct sown, either 2 to 4 weeks before the date of the last frost or in a cool, semi-shady location in late summer for a fall crop. The Spring pea cultivar is hardy to United States Department of Agriculture zones 3 to 9.
Growing Spring Peas
Peas prefer well-draining soil with average fertility. Directly sow seeds in prepared soil in full sun. Plant seeds ½ inch (1.2 cm.) deep and 2 inches (5 cm.) apart in rows 6 inches (15 cm.) apart. Seedlings should emerge in 7 to 14 days. Thin these to 6 inches (15 cm.) apart.
Keep the pea seedlings moderately moist and remove weeds as they occur. Protect seedlings from insects with a floating row cover. They will also need to be protected from slugs and snails. Overhead watering can cause powdery mildew in some warm, wet regions. Watering under the leaves can help prevent this disease.
The Spring pea cultivar is at its best when eaten fresh. Pods should be plump, round, green and have a bit of sheen on the pod. One the pod forms bumps, the pea is too old and will not taste good. Fresh peas are great but sometimes you have too many to eat at once. That is okay, since peas freeze great. Shell the peas, blanch them lightly, shock them with cold water and freeze them in zippered freezer bags. The taste of “spring” will last in your freezer for up to 9 months.