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Guide to Peas: How to Grow, Pick, and Store Peas

Photo: Ally T/ Getty

Whether snow, snap, or shelling types, sweet little peas are a treat. Peas, please!

SEASON: Spring through fall

CHOOSING: Green peas for shelling should have green, glossy pods that feel firm and full. Snow pea pods should be flat with almost no visible lumps of peas inside. And edible-podded sugar snap peas should be crisp and plump. All types should be refrigerated after you buy them because their sweetness declines quickly after picking.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

STORING: If you can’t cook and eat them immediately, store peas in a produce bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Wait to shell peas just before you cook them.

GROWING: Plant in the cool season of spring and fall in most of the country. In northern or high-altitude areas with cool summers, they can be picked all summer. Where winters are mild with only light frosts, gardeners enjoy peas all winter.

Peas grow on vines that need a trellis, even if it’s a tepee made of bamboo and twine or a section of metal fencing. Even those labeled as “bush” peas will do better with a little support. Select a sunny site, and push seeds into well-prepared soil about 1 inch deep and 2 to 3 inches apart.

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All types require about two months of growth from the time seeds are sown until the first peas are ready to be picked. That means planting about a month before the last spring frost so there will be time to enjoy a long harvest before the days start to get hot. For a fall planting, sow seeds in late summer.

The tall, vining varieties have the longest harvest, about six weeks. You can make a second planting a few weeks after the first to have a continuous supply.