Prepare your soil by turning over your snap pea planting beds 2 weeks before planting, add some manure, and mulch.
Plant seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F. Plant at a depth of 1 inch and 2 inches apart in a well drained soil.
Peas do not like an over-fertilized soil and would love some wood ashes when the seeds are planted if possible.
When to Water
Peas tend to lay shallow roots, so withhold water slightly during the early growing phase to encourage deeper rooting. After that, watering is critical from the appearance of the first flower until harvest. Peas need consistent moisture to develop full, flavorful pods.
Young pea plants can take a light frost, so tuck plants into the garden before the last average frost date for your region. However, be prepared to protect flowering plants from a late frost; it will hurt flowers and sometimes causes tiny developing pods to be deformed.
To prevent fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, water peas early in the day so leaves can dry before dusk, or use a soaker hose or drip irrigation so that the foliage doesn’t get wet each time you water. Aphids occasionally attack vines, but can be easily overcome with a douse of insecticidal soap. Peas are susceptible to fusarium wilt and root-rot disease, especially on poorly drained soils. Improving soil drainage by adding compost can help prevent outbreaks of these diseases.
Prepare your soil with a thorough digging. One addition you may want to make is inoculant. You can buy it at any garden store, and it’s a natural additive that helps with peas’ natural ability to take up nitrogen from the soil. It’s not necessary, but pea plants can grow much better with a sprinkling of inoculant added at planting.
Snap peas plants can reach a height of 4 to 7 feet.Take that into consideration when planning your garden. Make sure there is enough distance between your tall vegetables and short vegetables. That way both will get enough sun light.
Harvest snap-style green peas when pods start to fatten, but before peas get too large. If picked at the right time, the whole pod can be eaten. If pods are chewy and tough, they’ve been left on vines too long. In this case, shell the peas and compost the pods. Peas will produce as long as vines are healthy and temperatures stay cool.
Peas thrive in cool, damp weather, making them an ideal candidate for early spring planting. In mild climates, you can also plant for a fall harvest, but spring plantings generally yield more. Once the temperature reaches the 80s, pea season is over.
Peas don’t need much nitrogen fertilizer. As members of the legume family, peas actually fix their own nitrogen from the air, and can even improve your soil by adding nitrogen to it.
You can grow snap peas around a tomatoe cage. They will climb twine that is attached to the wire cage, which will hold a tomato later.
Hot weather will kill your plants, so as the temperature goes up, you’ll find your plants will stop producing new pea pods. Yield can widely vary depending on the plant type, but in general you will get more peas from vines than bushes.
Vining snap peas can be planted closer together than bushing peas, so space them out accordingly. Bush peas will need about 1 foot of space between each plant, but vining peas can really just be sown along a row without worrying about the exact space.
Snap peas like full sun to partial shade and do well when they get about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. If you can give your plants some shade when it's too hot, they will keep producing for a longer period.
Garlic and onions should not be planted next to the snap peas.
The following vegetables will do well when planted next to snap peas: Beans, Carrots, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Lettuce, Melons, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips. Planting certain vegetables next to each other can deter insects and encourage growth.
Next year, DO NOT plant peas, beans, lentils, groundnuts, broad beans and soya on the same location where you planted peas this year. Because they are all members of the Legume (Leguminosae) family. Instead use that spot to plant other vegetables from a different family such as:
- Carrot (Umbelliferae) - celery, carrots, parsley
- Nightshade (Solanaceae) - tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers
- Mustard/Brassica (Cruciferae) - broccoli, caulifower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes.
- Sunflower (Compositae) - lettuce, artichokes.
- Cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) - pumpkins, melons, squash, gourds, cucumbers.
- Allium (Amaryllidaceae) - onions, garlic, leeks.
- Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae) - spinach, Swiss chard, beets.
Growing Snap Peas Overview
In General, snap peas are not hard to grow as long as they get enough sun light and warm temperatures lower than 85 degrees F. For more planting information, please visit our Farming Tips homepage.