How to Harvest Peas
Find out how to tell when your peas are ripe and ready for picking
Welcome to Homegrown/Homemade, a video series from FineGardening.com. We’ll be following a gardener (Fine Gardening executive editor Danielle Sherry) and a cook (Sarah Breckenridge) as they plant, maintain, harvest, store, and prepare garden vegetables. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll find these videos very helpful. In this video, the topic is peas.
Episode 3: How to Harvest Peas
The trickiest thing about harvesting peas is knowing when they’re ripe. You don’t want to pick them when the peas are undersized, but if you wait too long the peas will lose their sweetness and turn hard. Morning is the best time to peak, because the sugar content is highest then. At peak ripeness the outer shell will be bright green, not dull and waxy. Continue to pick the vines as the peas ripen. If you do that, the plants will keep flowering and continue to produce, at least until the weather gets really hot.
St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional time to plant peas in the Northeast, and if your garden soil is workable and not too wet, you can get the seeds in the ground. To speed germination, soak the seeds in water for at least a couple of hours before planting. Coating the seeds with inoculant (which is available at garden centers) also aids germination. After planting, keep the seeds well watered.
When your pea plants are a couple of inches tall, think about offering them support so they won’t topple over into a tangled snarl. Depending on the variety, pea plants can grow up to 6 ft. tall, and trellising is one option. The stakes for this trellis are fastened securely to the raised bed with a screw gun. Once the stakes are in position, netting is stapled to them. Another way to support peas is to build a four-pole tipi, and a third way is to use brush offcuts. Here’s a tip you might not have thought of: fasten your pea vines to their supports with strips cut from old stockings or panty hose. It’s smart recycling, and it stretches as the vine grows.
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