Fresh peas are in season and at the market. Here, 12-year-old Devine Nwosu takes us on a tour of her school's working farm to show how to grow and enjoy these spring treats. Read on for gardening tips, shopping advice, and recipes.
How to Grow
Planting and growing fresh peas is a snap.
PICK A SUNNY SPOT
Use a tall trellis, or poke multibranched twigs deep into soil for natural lattice. Devine advises to "support them, for the curls!" Clingy tendrils grasp vertical supports as pea plants climb up. Check the seed packet for plant height (bush or climbing), though all types benefit from support.
SOW WHEN IT'S COOL
Plant early, usually one month before the last frost date is forecast in your region. Soak seeks in lukewarm water overnight for a jumpstart. Sow seeds two to three weeks apart for a continuous crop.
GET READY TO PICK
Look for pods to harvest within two months, choose firm, glossy green ones. Sugar snaps and garden peas should be plump, with large peas inside; pick snow peas when flat and crisp. Try the young tendrils and leaves—they're delicious in salads or lightly sautéed.
How to Shop
No spot for a pot? Fresh peas appear at markets and grocery stores in early spring.
The prime time for purchasing fresh peas is now. To relish the freshness and peak nutrition, snap them up quickly and prepare them ASAP, as their sweetness begins to decline as soon as pods are picked. At the school farmers' market where Devine and her classmates sell Farm Lab harvests, she's proud to have learned how to grow "so it doesn't have chemicals in it. We can sell it and know its' not harmful." At your own farmers' market, you can ask if peas were grown organically.
KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With sugar snap peas and garden (green) peas, look for bright, glossy pods with a "plump factor." For snow peas, seek out glossy pods that are flat, not plump, with crisp crunch.
Keep fresh shelled peas refrigerated if you can't enjoy them immediately. For garden peas, keep them in their pods and wait to shell until right before using in order to get the brightest flavor and texture.
Pea Pappardelle Pasta
Sugar snaps, green peas, and pea shoots enrich this dish with sweet flavor and a bounty of pleasing textures. Look for pea shoots at your local farmers' market or Asian market, or substitute watercress.
Pea and Wasabi Dip
This blend is a zippy alternative to hummus; serve with crudiés or crackers. Sweet green peas offset the kicky heat of wasabi (which you'll find on the Asian foods aisle).
About Our Partners School gardens are trending, and we couldn't be happier—they're a great way to expose kids to fresh food and encourage healthier eating. That's why we've partnered with Birmingham, Alabama-based Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Through their Farm Labs at local elementary and middle schools, JVTF staffers engage students in project-based learning centered on fresh vegetables and fruits. The five Farm Lab outposts resonate with kids where computers can't: in the sunshine and in the dirt. Visit jvtf.org to learn more, or go to edibleschoolyard.org for resources in your area.