Fresh homegrown peas will always beat the taste of any that you buy from the store and there are tons of varieties (early, midseason and late) that you can choose from. Make sure you know what kind you choose (there are edible seeds and edible pods) and that you provide the right growing conditions. If you plant different varieties you can ensure a longer harvest. You can also plant seeds or seedlings every couple of weeks to ensure a continual harvest throughout the season. Peas are a cool weather crop that can survive light frosts and don’t tolerate high temperatures. This means that you can generally plant them in the Spring and Late Summer (about 7 weeks before last expected frost date) when temperatures aren’t to warm.
When planting peas you’ll want to make sure you’re in a spot with that has had plenty of organic matter worked into it, such as bone meal, which has a high phosphorus reading. It is not necessary to work in organic matter that is high in nitrogen. Peas produce their own nitrogen, so adding it to the soil will only result in lush plants with few pods. You can help to speed up germination by inoculating your peas, or soaking them in water. When ready, plant peas about 1 1/2 inches deep and 2 inches apart, in rows that are about 6 to 8 inches apart.
Make sure plants get adequate amounts of water. Too-much water will slow plant growth, where as, drought can leave you with low yields, so you’re best bet is keeping the soil evenly moist, but not water-logged. It’s also a good idea to give your peas something to climb, a trellis, bamboo stakes, or even an old ladder. Peas will use their tendrils to grab on and climb whatever is around, so it’s better to provide them with something than having them climb and choke out another plant.
Don’t let pea pods go for to long on the vine, no more than about three weeks after blossoming. If you leave them on the plant to long they turn hard and have a starchy flavor. For that reason alone, I always recommend harvesting them early rather than late. Edible pods, such as snow peas, should be somewhat flat, if they show signs of big, bulky peas on the inside, they’re not going to be good anymore. You can still use them like you would garden peas, but they won’t be as sweet. On the other hand, if you are growing shelling/garden peas, you’ll want to pick them when they are bright green and plump. Harvesting from your plant daily will encourage new blossoms to form, so get out in the garden and pick those peas. You’ll want to eat, cook, can or freeze peas as soon as you pick them, they immediately start loosing their sweetness once they’re plucked from the vine.