Alaska pea plants, Pisum sativum Alaska, are just one of over 1,000 types of pea plants. This cool season crop is the earliest maturing pea plant cultivar. Alaska peas, grown for the peas in the pod, develop small pea pods 2 1/2 inches long and contain 5 to 7 smooth-skinned peas. Alaska peas are starchy and not as sweet as some varieties of peas. This is a basic cooking pea, used commercially as a canning pea. In the home garden, Alaska peas are grown for fresh eating, canning and freezing.
Alaska pea seeds grow in a wide range of soil conditions. They are one of the plants that actually improve the fertility of the soil as they grow. Fertilizer does not affect the growth of Alaska pea plants. The plants ignore the nitrogen content of the fertilizer and create their own by absorbing it through the leaves from the air. Alaska pea plants prefer moist soil while growing.
Alaska pea plants grow about 36 inches tall and need support to stay upright. Anything will work, including trellises, sticks and twine or a fence. Without support, these pea plants will climb neighboring plants or each other.
Alaska pea seeds can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in the spring. If the soil sticks to your garden tools, then it is too soon to plant the pea seeds. Alaska pea seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days. Plant a new batch of Alaska pea seeds every three weeks until the middle of spring for successive harvests.
Pea pods are ready to harvest 55 to 62 days after planting. Usually, this variety of pea is harvested before the heat of summer hits the garden. Alaska pea pods are picked when they have filled out the light green pod. Waiting until the pea pods are yellowing is not a good idea since the peas taste starchy and bitter. Alaska peas will grow all summer long if the weather is mild and not overly hot or dry.
Alaska pea seedlings suffer damage when the temperatures fall below 24 degrees Fahrenheit. The larger, older Alaska pea plants are damaged at 20 degrees. Cold-damaged plants survive, but their development is stunted and they grow slowly. Alaska pea seeds planted after cold snaps will produce pea pods before cold-damaged plants.
Hot, dry weather actually damages pea plants more than freezing spells. Alaska pea plants need afternoon shade when the temperature reaches over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat-damaged plants stop producing flowers and pea pods and, if the heat lasts long enough, the Alaska pea plant will die.