Although early fall is the time when most garden plants begin slowing down, it provides a suitable season for planting Alaskan pea plants. This plant goes through its entire life cycle very quickly. Alaskan pea plants normally mature in about two months, allowing you to plant and harvest the edible seeds during a single season.
The Alaskan pea plant is a variety of English peas, classified as Pisum sativum. These plants grow rapidly along trellises and supports, sending out numerous tendrils that attach to nearby structures. Compared to other types of pea plants that may take up to 75 days to mature, Alaskan peas only require 55 days, making them the earliest maturing variety of garden pea.
Like many varieties of peas, Alaskan peas don't tolerate hot temperatures. The best time to plant the seeds is after the heat of summer or very early in the spring. In evenly moist soil, the seeds begin to sprout and send out small roots. The upper portion of the plant emerges as a small sprout as early as five to seven days after planting. Depending on soil warmth and moisture, germination and sprouting may take up to two weeks.
Alaskan peas grow upright along fences, trellises and poles. During this stage of development, the bean plants form tall, upright stems with numerous leaves and tendrils. Tying the center stems to the supporting structures can help hold them in place, allowing them to reach a mature height between 26 and 36 inches tall.
Alaskan pea plants begin forming their first blossoms between the eighth to 12th nodes. These nodes develop along the stems of the plants, appearing as small, pointed bumps. The nodes produce peduncles, narrow stems that attach to the bottoms of the flowers. As the blossoms wilt, small seedpods begin to form in their place, dangling from the peduncles.
The best time to harvest depends on the intended use of the produce, as well as the stage of the bean plants' development. Harvesting the peas to use as fresh ingredients in culinary dishes normally occurs as the bean pods reach about 3 inches in length. At this stage, the pods contain crisp peas with soft, sweet centers. Alaskan peas planted for the purpose of drying require harvesting when the pods begin to dry and harden, usually around 65 days after planting.