How do you grow peas for beginners?

One of the simplest and most satisfying vegetables to raise in your backyard garden are peas. The vines don’t consume too much room, tolerate less-than-ideal weather and soil conditions, yield an abundance of healthful green vegetables, and look lovely while they’re at it.

There are over 100 varieties of peas. The best peas for beginners are shelling peas, also known as garden or sweet peas. Shelling peas are sweet and have a firm texture. They can be eaten fresh or frozen.

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Choosing the right type of pea

When it comes to growing peas, people think of varieties that grow on vines because bush varieties aren’t as well grown. 

Bush varieties are ideal for people who want to grow vegetables in containers or don’t want to go to the expense of providing the necessary support for peas grown on vines.

A good way to find out about all the available peas types is by ordering catalogs from well-known seed companies.

Container Seeds are an ideal resource for anyone looking to grow peas in containers.

Before Planting Pea Seeds

Pea seeds are very hard. As with all seeds, there is a live plant embryo inside the hard casing.

That hard casing must become soft enough to allow the seed to sprout.

Soaking pea seeds in room temperature water, preferably for at least 24 hours, can expedite germination.

Planting Pea Seeds

Seeds should be planted in well-loosened soil, whether in the ground or in containers.

Tilling the ground before planting will loosen the soil and turn the top soil under, slowing the process of erosion. Rotate crop placement every year to prevent the spread of soil-borne diseases.

The addition of organic matter such as compost can improve soil fertility and loosen the soil so that water gets distributed evenly below the surface.

Pea seeds typically germinate in about a week’s time. Peas should be ready for harvest in anywhere from 45 to 65 days. Be sure that the planting location gets plenty of sun.

Since the seeds are large, take the time to space them several inches apart. Doing this will eliminate the need to thin crowded seedlings, something that will result in wasted seeds.

If planting peas that grow on vines, plant them in rows. This will make it easier to provide support for all of the plants. Vines have tendrils that will attach themselves to the supports as the plants grow taller.

Peas inside a white container.

Extending a Pea Harvest

Peas have a short growing season since they are cool weather crops. Rather than planting a large amount of seeds at one time, pea lovers would do well to plant seeds sequentially, staggering plantings so that they can harvest the crop until the plants succumb to the effects of heat.

Since peas grow in cool weather, they can be planted again late in summer, provided they can be harvested before a freeze kills off the plants.

As with spring planting, the harvest can be extended by planting fewer seeds at a time. Plant batches a week or two apart. Peas will tolerate some hot days, provided nighttime temperatures are cooler.

How to Water Pea Plants

Many inexperienced gardeners make the mistake of watering their plants every day and giving the plants a small amount of water. This is an ineffective and inefficient way to water.

Regardless of the frequency, small amounts of water do not penetrate deeply enough into the soil to provide the seed, and later the plants, the water they need to absorb nutrients from the soil.

Depending on the amount of rainfall an area receives, it may only be necessary to water peas once or twice a week.

Allow the sprinkler to remain on the plants for 1 1/2 to 2 hours so that the water will penetrate deeply into the soil. Water early in the morning so that the leaves dry out quickly.

Watering later in the evening or after dark allows water to remain on the leaves, providing harmful insects with the perfect environment in which to attack. Insects typically come out around sundown and remain present until sun up.

Peas can grow perfectly successfully without any fertilizer, but those who wish to provide some fertilizer may want to fertilize the plants after the seeds are planted.

It is important to rotate the placement of peas when planting them year after year. Crop rotation prevents the spread of soil-born diseases and the depletion of nutrients that any one crop requires.

In places where birds or other creatures are likely to try to dig up newly planted seeds, a protective covering with a mesh fabric or other type of mulch can be helpful. Mulch will also keep the soil temperature consistent and aid in moisture retention.

Growing peas in the garden.

What are the best growing conditions for peas?

One of the earliest crops of the year, peas are planted as soon as the land can be worked, even if snow follows. See our tips on the best growing conditions for peas.


Keep the soil moist; else, plants will cease producing. If there isn’t any rain during the week, provide water. Mornings are best for watering the soil, and 6 inches should be applied. The peas should not be planted in locations with standing water or in moist soil.


Test the planting area with a commercially available soil test kit to determine the pH value. Pea plants grow best in neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. Pea plants can grow in slightly acidic or alkaline soil.


Pea seeds can be sown straight into the ground whenever the soil reaches a temperature of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds germinate when placed in cool soil and exposed to direct sunlight. The seedlings of peas are not harmed by snow or light frost.


They favor soil that contains a lot of organic matter, such as compost and well-rotted manure. Don’t fertilize your pea plants because they dislike a lot of nitrogen in the soil. To give the roots room to grow and anchor the plants, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. After sowing, pea plants get off to a strong start thanks to a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost put into the loosening soil.

Green peas vines growing in the garden.

Do peas need to climb?

Even though bush peas are just 2 to 3 feet tall, they will flop to the ground if you don’t give them anything to climb on. Climbing peas require a strong trellis because they can grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall.

How do you grow peas step by step?

These easy steps will help you grow peas.

  1. Select a location in your garden and build pea supports there.
  2. At the end of each row, drive a stake into the ground. Then, run a string between the two stakes to allow the peas to climb up.
  3. Organic waste such as compost, aged cow dung, pelleted chicken manure, and worm castings can improve the soil.
  4. Dig the organic material through the soil’s surface.
  5. Make a long trench about an inch deep with a tiny trowel, the end of a rake, or a stick.
  6. Fill the hole with the seeds, spacing them out by one inch.
  7. Add soil over the seeds.
  8. After sowing, thoroughly water the seeds.

Do peas need full sun?

Peas need about 4 to 5 hours of sunlight per day to produce flowers and pods effectively. As the temperature warms, it is best to plant under the shade.

Closeup of Green Pea Pods Growing on Vines

What month do you plant peas?

Peas may be grown outdoors from February through June while the temperature is still chilly. Peas can be planted during the fall or winter in warmer climates. For beginners, planting peas in April will give you an earlier harvest, while those in southern states can plant them in August for a fall harvest.

What should not be planted near peas?

Because they have a tendency to slow the growth of peas, plants in the allium (onion and garlic) family are not suitable allies for peas. Do not grow these plants close to peas:

  • Onions – Rob the soil of its nutrients.
  • Garlic – Has similar nutrients to peas in its diet.
  • Leeks – Entice pests.
  • Shallots – Have the same nutrients as peas when feeding.
  • Scallions – Emits poisonous substances into the soil.
  • Chives – Negatively impact peas’ behavior during growing.

How often do you water peas?

Peas are best watered with 1 inch (2.5) cm of water at once-a-week intervals. If it rains, the frequency of watering the peas should be reduced when the rain reaches 1 inch (2.5 cm) in a single week. Although watering peas may be done, it will wilt the leaves, rot the roots, and then eventually die.

How many peas will one plant produce?

Pea plants produce fruit of 5 or 6 pods, and each pod usually has a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 9 peas. This gives a harvest of 25 to 54 peas in a single plant.

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