When time is rushing towards the start of a new year, you know it won’t be long before the new gardening season starts. This is the perfect time to do your research for what are the best vegetables to plan for once things get underway for real in the garden. And because sweet peas are pretty much first off the rank in terms of the gardening season, you need to get your head around what varieties are best to plant if you want a bountiful supply of the sweetest of sweet peas. Read on and have your sweet-tooth inspired!
Peas go way back for gardeners, and that is no surprise considering how delicious they are. It is thought they originated in the eastern parts of Europe and Central Asia. They are one of the oldest crops, going back to the start of human agriculture itself, about 10,000 years ago.
Sweet peas are a relative new-comer onto the scene. Traditionally, peas were dried and stored before being cooked and consumed.
Different Kinds of Peas
You’ve got your garden variety Garden or English Peas and your slightly more exotic Edible Pod Peas. Garden or English Peas need to be shelled before being consumed whereas Edible Pod Peas are good to go as they are because they don’t have the tough inner membrane that shelling peas have.
Edible Pod Peas come in two versions themselves – Snap Peas and Snow Peas:
- Snap Peas have round pods and have been around a long time
- Snow Peas have flat pods and have made a big culinary comeback in the west since the 70’s. They’ve been common in Asia for thousands of years.
How To Plant Peas
As long as the weather is cool enough, you can get started planting peas, and they are very easy to grow. They can be planted in early spring or even late winter in some zones. As soon as the ground can be worked after winter, you can proceed. There are even some varieties that can be planted in late summer for an autumn crop as long as you get them in about two months before the first hard frost.
Peas require a rich, well-draining, cool or cold soil. They will not thrive in cold, moist or waterlogged soil. If you live in warmer climes, heavily mulch the soil around the plants to keep the soil temperature as cool as possible.
You should plant peas about 6 inches apart in rows that are about 1.5 feet apart. If you plant them in cold soil (40 F), they will be slow to germinate. Often, seeds planted in warmer soil (60 F or more) will catch up with earlier plantings in colder soil. So you can continue to plant additional seeds through to early to mid-May. Also, you can mix things up by planting varieties with shorter days to maturity to increase the total harvest over the available period.
Unless they are a bush type, peas require trellising. There are many different approaches to do this – it’s mostly a case of using what you have lying around or repurposing something like an old bed frame . I like to use twine strung between bottom and top horizontal poles because it’s so easy to set up and just as importantly, pack up again when the crop has finished without taking up too much space in the shed.
Once the pea pods are ready to be picked, remember that the more you pick, the more the plant will produce.
Best English or Shelling Pea To Grow
Best Newer Varieties Of Garden, English or Shelling Peas To Grow
Some newer varieties of shelling peas you might like to try include:
Dual: Moderately sweet but a good choice if you want to freeze them because instead of the 8 to 10 peas in your average pod, this one produces 10 to 14 peas per pod. It’s also a bush type so it doesn’t need trellising. It bears pods in pairs instead of single pods and takes about 70 days from germination.
Garden Sweet – An extra sweet, very tasty variety, ready for harvest in about 75 days from germination. They are good producers (9 to 10 peas per pod).
Best Heirloom Varieties of Garden, English or Shelling Peas To Grow
Little Marvel: An early variety that comes from a cross between two even earlier Britsh varieties. Pods contain 7-8 medium-sized peas. Very sweet and tender and ready in 65 days after germination. These can also be planted in late summer but be warned that they do suffer in hotter temperatures.