round peas in up close green pea pod
(Image credit: Olga Shumytskaya / Getty Images)

Small space gardeners will love Tom Thumb heirloom peas. The vines grow only 6 to 8 inches and they are hardy down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 C.). These diminutive plants produce an abundance of peas in a tiny space. Pop them in the garden or a container and enjoy the sweet taste of home-grown produce.

Tom Thumb Heirloom Peas

The history of the Tom Thumb pea plant shows it was originally introduced by the Philadelphia Seed Company in the 1850's. It seems silly to write the letters, OMG, but really, OMG, these are the cutest little plants ever with their curling tendrils and bright green pods! The history of this plant probably started with end of the 20th century kitchen gardens, where variety reigned supreme and spacing was crucial. The practice of container gardening and greenhouse growing was widespread among certain classes, and cultivation of new breeds of plants was at its height. Peas (Pisum sativum) are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, with the first dwarf varieties appearing in 1665. The first of these was the Hotspur, from which the Tom Thumb heirloom peas likely arise.

Growing Tom Thumb Peas

This plant variety is early maturing, thrives in the cool season and doesn't require staking. Its lovely white flowers add early spring appeal as they cascade over a container. Direct sow these beauties as soon as soil is workable, 2 inches apart and ½ inch deep in full sun.

The seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days with adequate moisture. Young plants may require some protection from a freeze but they are hardy once the plants establish. With a little luck, you will be eating the yummy peas in 50 to 55 days, with continuous production until the weather gets hot.

Try growing Tom Thumb heirloom peas just outside the kitchen door or on a window sill container for easy access and sweet fresh pods right at your fingertips.

Bonnie Grant