Garden peas are a cool, early-season vegetable crop. Plant peas in the ground three or four weeks before the last usual frost in your area. The seeds will germinate underground and emerge as the air temperature is beginning to warm. Sugar snap peas and snow peas are commonly cultivated, and both can be found as bush or climbing varieties. Pea plants thrive in sunny conditions with a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.7, according to Ohio State University.
Prepare the planting bed in the early spring as soon as the soil is soft enough to work with. Spread a 4-inch layer of organic compost over the planting area. Work the compost 10 inches deep into the soil to loosen and nourish the area.
Construct a trellis structure before you plant. Drive 7-foot tall metal or wood poles into the soil at each end of the planting area. Drive the poles 1 foot into the soil so 6 feet of pole is above the earth level. Run string or wire between the two posts at height intervals 12 inches.
Place the pea seeds in a bowl of cool water for 12 hours before planting to soften the seeds and stimulate germination.
Press the seeds 1 inch into the soil and 2 inches apart on one side of the trellis wires. Plant a second row of seeds on the opposite side of the trellis; space the seeds 4 to 6 inches from the trellis strings.
Water the area after planting to settle the seeds in the soil. The earth around the seeds should be damp to at least 1 inch, or the depth of the planted seeds. In wet, spring weather, water only when the soil is dry. As the weather dries out, water every three to four days to keep the soil damp.
Pull weeds by hand to avoid damaging the delicate, shallow roots. Peas do not compete well with other plants; frequent light weeding is required. To keep weeds down, spread a 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants after they emerge.
Harvest peas continuously as they swell on the vine. Grasp the stem just above a pea with one hand and snap the peas from the plant with the other. Continuous harvesting will encourage the plants to keep producing throughout the growing season.