Garden peas are one of the earliest vegetables you can grow in your garden every year. In fact, early season varieties actually need a cold spurt to do well. That means you should plant them after the last specified frost in your area. As with so many vegetables, however, hybrids have been created that can grow throughout the season.
Start your garden with early harvesting peas such as Daybreak or Spring. Follow with a midseason planting of Little Marvel or Green Arrow. If you live in a long growing season location, plant a late season of sugar peas, such as Snowbird or Snowflake.
Plant your early-season garden peas as soon as the soil temperature reaches past 45 degrees F. and it is dry enough to till. (You can purchase a soil thermometer at your local garden center.) Place the thermometer down 2 inches into the soil for a reading. Break up the soil, adding compost if you have a clay-based or nutrient-depleted soil.
Form a garden row by running the pointed side of your hoe down the side of your worked soil, forming a long row mound. Form another line, parallel to the first line, about a foot away. All the soil should mound in the center of the two lines. The mound should measure 6 to 8 inches, approximately, from the top of the mound to the bottom of the hoe line, vertically. If you want two rows of garden peas, make another one about 18 to 24 inches beside the first one.
Plant your garden pea seeds about 1 inch deep and 1 inch apart. These are general directions and you should always read and follow the seed packet directions for your particular variety of peas.
Keep the soil moist, but not overly wet, while the pea seeds are germinating. After they pop through the soil, you may begin using the moats (hoe lines) for watering. This will cause the pea plant roots to grow downwards, strengthening them. Give the pea plants a good watering, to the top of the moat, once a week. If you live in a very hot and dry location, check the soil with your finger. If the ground, at the bottom of the moat, is dry at 2 inches down, it's time to water.
Place a stake, in the ground, beside the plant if you have planted vine-type peas. The stake should be in the ground far enough for it to be sturdy, about a foot. As the pea plant grows, train the vines to grow around the stake. Do this by wrapping the curly end of the pea vine around the stake. If you have chosen bush-type peas, there is no need for staking.
Harvest your peas when the pods show the swollen peas inside. You will be able to see the form of each pea in the pod. If you are not sure, pick a few pods, open them and check that the peas are fully developed. Inspect them every few days, for harvest readiness. Pick them right before cooking, for best taste and quality. Peas lose their flavor and sweetness rapidly upon picking.