Fresh peas are little green gems, delicious and nutritious when harvested fresh from the garden and added to soups, stews, casseroles or other recipes. Peas can also be canned, frozen or dried for later use. You can plant peas in March or April, as soon as you can easily work the ground.
Select a sunny, well-drained location in your garden. Spade the soil to a depth of 8 inches. Work the soil thoroughly and remove weeds, stones and large dirt clods. Spread 2 to 3 inches of old leaves, compost, grass clippings or other organic material on top of the soil, then rake it into the soil.
Make a shallow trench with the corner of a hoe. Allow three feet between each trench. Plant the seeds 1 to 4 inches apart in the rows and cover the seeds with 1 1/2 inches of soil. Peas don't require thinning.
Keep the soil moist at all times during the day. Water peas early in the day so the plants have time to dry before evening. Allowing peas to remain wet at night can result in mildew, rot, rust and other diseases. A 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants will help to control weeds and keep the roots moist and cool. Use an organic mulch such as dry grass clippings or straw. Decrease watering and keep the soil just slightly damp while the peas are blooming, as too much water can prevent proper pollination.
Use a hoe to remove weeds between the rows. Hand-pick weeds growing near the plants so as to avoid damaging the roots of the peas. Do not allow weeds to become out of control, as weeds will sap water and nutrients from the soil.
Planting a Second Crop
Plant a second crop of peas eight to 10 weeks before the first expected frost in your area. For the second crop, choose varieties that are mildew-resistant.
Peas can be planted along with fast-growing crops such as radishes or spinach, as the plants will be harvested while the pea plants are still small. Stagger your garden crops and never plant peas in the same place more than once every four years. Avoid planting peas in areas where pea plants have previously had root rot.