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The Best Way to Grow Pea Plants

By Nannette Richford ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plant peas in early spring, as soon as you can work the soil.

The Jolly Green Giant may have gotten his name for the unusually large peas he produced, but commercially harvested and prepared peas can’t match the flavor of home-grown peas straight from the garden. These cold-hardy plants thrive in home gardens, producing tender young fruit that is as delicious right from the pod as it is steamed and drizzled with butter. Growing your own peas in relatively easy and produces an abundance a fresh pods, ready for the picking.

Select a sunny location that receives 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Till in the spring as soon as you can work the soil. Till to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and remove any rocks or roots in the soil.

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic soil amendments, like compost or well-rotted manure and work it into the soil with a garden hoe.

Apply 5-10-10 fertilizer following the application rate on the container and work it into the soil. Fertilizer damages seeds and roots and should not come in direct contact with the seeds.

Soak peas overnight in tepid water. Select a bowl or bucket that will hold twice the volume of the dried pea seeds. Pour seeds into the bowl and fill the bowl with water. Peas double in size as they absorb the water.

Plant the peas in rows spaced 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart to allow for cultivation of the soil to control weeds and loosen soil.

Plant pea seeds to a depth of 1 inch, spaced 2 to 3 inches apart along the row. Cover with soil and firm down with the back of the hoe blade to remove air pockets and secure the seeds.

Water thoroughly to moisten the soil to a depth of 4 inches. Keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge in seven to 14 days, depending on the soil temperature and weather conditions.

Provide a fence for tall peas. Dwarf varieties do not require support.

Sprinkle fertilizer along the row 4 to 6 inches from the base of the plants when peas are 4 inches high. Follow the recommended application rate on the container and work the fertilizer into the soil with a hoe.

Water peas deeply once a week and mulch with grass clippings to conserve moisture

Harvest pea pods when young peas are formed and the pod is plump.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden tiller/spade
  • Pea seeds
  • Large bowl or bucket
  • Compost/well-rotted manure
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Mulch (grass clippings)

About the Author


Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.