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Peas are a great source of protein, iron and fiber. Planting your own peas gives you the option to go organic as well as save money. Problems to watch for when growing peas are fusarium wilt and root rot disease. These cause yellowing and wilting of the plants as well as poorly filled pods. Well-drained soil or raised beds prevent these diseases.
Choose which types of peas you would like to plant. The most common types for household gardens are garden (English) peas, snap peas and snow (sugar) peas. Southern peas (or black-eyed peas) are actually beans, not peas. Plan to plant the peas early, in a cool climate. You will need 2 to 3 oz. of seed per 100 feet of row. Extra seeds can be saved for the next year.
Prepare the soil. Choose a sunny spot as the ground first thaws in early spring. The sugar content is lower in peas that grow in shade. The soil temperature should be at least 45 degrees F or 60 degrees F for southern peas. The soil should also be able to be tilled without sticking to your gardening tools. Mix 1 to 1.5 lbs. of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet.
Plant the seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep and 2 inches apart. Plant the seeds 2 inches deep in drier summer soil. Southern peas are self-pollinating and are known for being able to grow and produce under harsh conditions. You can keep planting garden and dry peas every 14 to 21 days until April 1 in warmer regions and May 1 in cooler regions. The National Gardening Association recommends planting peas in 16-inch wide rows with walkways at least the same width. Wide rows require no trellises or fences for support as the vines will hold each other up.
Water the peas often. Peas require approximately 60 to 70 days to mature, depending on type. Snap peas tend to produce pods over a longer period. Take care not to over-water the peas as wet soil can cause root rot diseases and slow growth.
Use care when harvesting the pods. You can use your fingernail or a pair of scissors to pinch off the pods. Harvest garden peas when the pods are full, but before they harden or fade. Harvest snap peas when the pods become plump, yet crisp. Snow peas can be harvested five to seven days after flowering, when they reach their full length. Peas may be picked daily or every other day. Southern peas can be picked when the pods are easily shelled; this occurs when individual seeds start to swell within the pod, before the color fades.