Now is the time to plant peas for a fall harvest so I thought I’d share some interesting facts about these deliciously sweet veggies (well, scientifically speaking, they’re technically fruits.)
- Peas are one of the oldest cultivated crops. Fossil evidence shows that they were even eaten during the Bronze age!
- Green peas are actually unripe—that’s when they’re sweet and tender. Ripe ones are yellowish in color and used for drying. Split pea soup, anyone?
- Thomas Jefferson loved peas and grew as many as 15 varieties at Monticello.
- Frozen peas were introduced in the 1920’s by Clarence Birdseye.
- The world record for eating peas is held by Janet Harris of England who ate 7175 in one minute—using chopsticks!
- Peas are good for you—being an excellent source of fiber, vitamins B3, B9 and containing more vitamin C than 2 apples! They’re also an excellent source of several important phytonutrients, including beta-carotene and a great source of plant-based proteins.
- Peas lose their flavor very quickly after being picked. Their sugars begin to convert to starch so they are tastiest when eaten fresh.
So here’s how to grow your own!
Peas grow on vines that can vary in height from two feet to six feet so be sure to read the back of the seed packet to find out how tall your trellis needs to be. The plants climb with tendrils—meaning they need something to grab.
I put posts at both ends of the row and run about three rows of twine between them. Garden netting would work. I’ve even used tomato cages to give them something to climb.
To plant them, soak them for 12 to 24 hours to speed germination, then plant one inch deep, two inches apart. Sow them directly in the garden—beans and peas do NOT transplant well.
Harvest snap peas whenever you like—they’re delicious when they’re thin or when they’ve “plumped” out. Harvest sweet (also known as English) peas when the pods have filled out. Harvest snow pods when pods develop but before they fill out.
Whether you choose to plant those delectable shelling peas or the crispy sweet “snap” peas, growing your own is easy—and tasty!