The pea is a garden delicacy, doing double duty as a delicious veggie while improving your soils by fixing nitrogen (as long as Rhizobia bacteria are present). This cool season annual legume takes the form of a vine and is cultivated mostly for its seed pods. Some varieties, called garden peas, produce pods which are eaten whole when still young and tender, while those referred to as field peas are harvested once seeds are dried and mature. Tender young shoots and five-petaled flowers can also be used in salads, but don’t get confused and eat flowers of the sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus), a different species whose ornamental flowers are actually toxic! Peas are best grown in a cool season with temperatures remaining below 75°F.
The Cascadia variety of snap pea was developed at Oregon State University to be grown in the surrounding area. Not surprisingly then, this variety of pea will perform particularly well in the Pacific Northwest and regions with climates similar to this area (e.g., mild summer and winter temperatures, cool coastal breezes, etc.). This variety will generally only grow to approximately 3′ in height, so, unlike other varieties, it doesn’t generally need to be staked. It also tends to be more pest resistant than other varieties of snap peas, making it a garden favorite for many growers.
Seed Depth: 1–2″
Space Between Plants: 1–4″
Space Between Rows: 18–24″
Germination Soil Temperature: 40–80°F. Seeds will take longer to germinate in cooler soils.
Days for Germination: 9–14
Sow Indoors: Not recommended. If you try it, use a compostable pot which can be transplanted directly into the soil so as not to disturb the plants roots.
Sow Outdoors: 4 to 6 weeks before average last frost or as soon as the soil can be worked.
Grows best in cool, damp weather. Will be most productive when they’re able to mature in temperatures consistently below 75°F. In Zones 8 and higher, peas should be started in the late summer or early fall for a winter harvest.
Natural: Full sun. Prefers partial shade in hotter weather.
Artificial: Grows well under fluorescent or LED lamps. If using an LED system, use red and/or blue bulbs as these emit the types of rays that are most useful to pea plants.
Soil: Prefers loamy or sandy soil. A pH of 6.0 to 7.0 will keep plants healthy and nourished.
Soilless: Although it’s not recommended to grow peas indoors, seeds will germinate in soilless mixes of well-rotted manure, perlite, and other organic matter.
Hydroponics: Will thrive in a hydroponic system using rockwool cubes or other similar stone/sand mediums.
Water: Requires moderate levels of water. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist. Watering is less important in the early stages of development, but make sure to increase irrigation once flowers have appeared.
Pruning: Plants may be thinned as they begin to mature to avoid overcrowding.
Mulching: A layer of straw, grass clippings or compost will assist in keeping weeds down.
Support: As this variety of garden pea is smaller than others, they typically do not need to be staked.
Rotation: Rotating peas with root vegetables will help keep the soil healthy and reduce the risk of disease.
Companions: Grows well with carrots, celery, cucumbers, corn, eggplant, chicory, parsley, radishes, turnips, sweet peppers, and spinach. Avoid potatoes and onions.
Harvest: Can be picked by hand once they are firm and plump. Most plants will generate multiple successions of peas, so make sure to keep harvesting after the first round!
Storage: Delicious eaten fresh, garden peas will keep in the refrigerator for a week or more if kept dry.
Fun Fact: Did you know that peas aren’t only delicious, they’re also useful? The starch extracted from peas is now being used to create biodegradable plastics that are more environmentally friendly than regular plastic as they are not petroleum based and degrade more easily back into their natural elements.
Preserve: Will do well frozen once they have been blanched. Peas are also great pickling candidates. Try throwing in a sprig of dill for an herbal flavoring!
Prepare: Can be eaten raw, pickled, in a stir fry, or roasted. Cascadia peas do not need to be shelled before being eaten. They also don’t have the fibrous string that many other varieties possess, so go ahead and eat them straight out of the garden! Add thinned young shoots to a spring salad.
Nutritional: A great way to add protein and fiber to your meal without packing in calories and fat. Peas also contain various vitamins such as K, C, and certain B-complex vitamins. Antioxidants are also present in this veggie, but levels will vary based on whether they are eaten fresh or stored.
Warnings: Some people are allergic to peas, so eat with care or consult with a doctor, especially if you know you have allergies to lentils or other related species.
This Malaysian Noodle Dish with Sugar Snap Peas is not only delicious, it’s easy to make: a perfect way to sample your delectable, garden-fresh, peas. This dish is a bit spicy, so we recommend adding only 1 chili pepper (if you aren’t a fan of spice) or having some of your favorite beer on hand to cool your palette!
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