Sweet and crunchy, peas are at their peak of flavor immediately after picking. Sugar snaps and snow peas are expensive to buy at the grocery store but are both surprisingly easy to grow and very productive.
Dig the area in winter and leave it until early spring. Remove any weeds, and create a trench 1-1/4 in. deep along a string line. Plant the seeds 2 in. apart, in two rows 8 in. apart, and cover with soil. Water well. Keep soil moist for bumper crops and to prevent powdery mildew.
Support Your Peas
Peas are short, climbing plants and need support as they grow. Insert short stakes or tall twigs next to each plant, or stretch closely woven netting along the row between two upright supports.
When to Harvest
Peas are ready about three weeks after flowering. The pods at the base of the plant mature first. Pick them when they are young for the sweetest taste. Keep picking, and the plant will keep producing. After harvesting, cut the plant off and leave the roots in the ground to release nitrogen a natural fertilizer.
These are also known as mangetout \"eat all\" in French and that's exactly what you do with these tender, crunchy pods. The young pods of any peas can be eaten whole, but these have soft inner walls, are flat, and the peas inside don't swell. Add them to stir fries, lightly steam, or eat them raw in salads. Choose a sunny, open spot, and dig the soil over about a month before sowing time. Use a rake to make a trench 1-1/4 in. deep, and sow the seed 2 in. apart. Cover the seed with soil and water in well. Push pea sticks into the ground close to the seed. Keep the plants well watered, especially when they are flowering, and during warm weather. Harvest frequently, as soon as the pods reach 2 to 2-1/2 in. long.
Sugar Snap Peas
This is another pea relative that is eaten whole, pod and all. The difference between these and snow peas is that sugar snaps have a firm inner pod that gives them more of a crunch. They also swell up like normal pea pods. Sugar snap peas grow well in cool conditions and can be sown directly into the soil from early spring for a summer crop; sow in midsummer for an autumn crop. Sow a small amount of seed every couple of weeks, using the same method as peas, to give a succession of crops. Since some sugar snap peas grow tall, provide a sturdy frame 6 ft. high with stakes, or netting stretched between upright poles. Keep the peas well watered. Harvest the pods while young and tender, which will encourage the plants to produce more.