It doesn’t take a lot to successfully grow peas, but figuring out when to pick them can be a bit of a mystery, particularly for new and inexperienced growers. But not to worry, because in this article you’ll find everything you need to know so you can harvest this tasty, cool-weather crop at its ideal sweetness.
Let’s get started!
Growing peas in your garden can be a fun and rewarding experience. If you’re wondering when the right time to pick your homegrown peas is so you can get them at their best flavor and nutritional value, stick around to learn all there is to know about harvesting peas.
What time of the year are peas ready for harvest?
Most varieties of peas are typically ready for harvesting around 60-70 days after they’ve been planted. The best time of the year to sow the seeds is from March all the way to June, depending on where you live.
As soon as the ground can be worked, after the last spring frost, you can go ahead and plant your seeds. If they’re planted in colder soil (40°F/4°C), peas can take longer to germinate than if you were to plant them when the soil temperature reaches at least 60°F/15°C.
You can always plant a second round of peas in late summer to early fall, so you can have more peas ready for harvest before the first fall frost.
The first picking of the season, which is typically in June is the sweetest and tastiest. So, if you want to pick your peas while they are sweet, tender, and juicy don’t wait too long as once they grow too big and start yellowing on the outside of the pods, they begin to lose their flavor and sweet taste.
How can you tell when peas are ready for harvest?
While this depends mostly on the variety of peas you’re growing, there are a few universal signs to look for when determining whether your peas are ready to be picked.
Here’s how you can determine if your homegrown peas are ready for harvesting:
- The peas inside the pod should be touching each other
- They shouldn’t have a give when you squeeze them
- Their pods should be crunchy
- Their pods should be bright to dark green which shows that they’re at their peak flavor. When they lose their shine and start to turn yellow, they’ve over matured and are best used as next year’s seeds.
If the weather is right, peas don’t take too long to mature. This means that you should check on them daily and pick the ones that are ready, leaving the less mature ones a few more days to reach their peak period.
Let’s go over each variety of peas to see what you need to look for to know when they are ready for harvest.
Harvesting Shelling Peas
Before their pods get too waxy be ready to harvest your shelling peas so you can get them while they’re in their peak period and taste best.
Shelling peas are generally eaten cooked, not raw, although if they are very young they do have a really sweet flavor and taste great. When it comes to shelling peas, although the pods are technically edible, only the peas inside the pods are used, mainly because the pods are tough to chew and don’t offer any flavor.
Harvesting Snow Peas
Snow peas should be picked once their pods begin to show delicate, immature seeds on the inside. Their pods should be brightly colored.
Snow peas can be added to salads or used in soups and stir-fries. Both the peas inside and the pods can be eaten. They taste great raw, and are quite crunchy yet tender, adding a ton of texture and flavor to every meal.
Harvesting Sweet Peas
Harvest sweet peas when the pods are still tender, juicy, and green. Pick them before the seeds inside over-mature and their pods begin to yellow.
Sweet peas can be eaten raw if they’re picked while they’re tender and have brightly colored pods. You can also use them to prepare a variety of dishes, from soups to cheesy pastas, risottos, and more.
The right way to pick peas
Picking peas is a simple and easy process that doesn’t require any special equipment or skill.
To harvest them properly, snap each pod off using your nail or a pair of hand pruners so you don’t harm the fragile stems. Use delicate tools – like these Teflon trimming scissors – to get a quick and easy harvest.
Pick all of the mature ones so the plant continues to flower and keep producing peas. If you leave mature peas on the plant and stop picking them, the plant will stop producing new ones and in time start to dry out.
The best time to pick peas is early in the morning, before the sun hits, so you can get them while they’re at their crunchiest and freshest state.
Make sure to either use them soon after picking or shell and store them in the freezer within the hour, before the sugar converts into starch and they start losing their sweet signature flavor.
Do peas keep producing?
The more pods you pick, the more the plant will keep producing. As long as the weather is suitable for them to thrive, the plants will keep reproducing fresh new pods of peas. Once it gets too hot, they will pause their production and resume when the weather cools down.
Since they are a cool-weather crop, they can be grown in fall as well as in spring. If you’ve already harvested your spring peas, you can then continue to nurture the crop so it gets through the summer and then start reproducing once the weather cools off, or you can plant fresh new seeds in late summer so the plants can mature by early fall and you can have a second harvest of peas in the same year.
Now that you’ve learned how and when to pick your homegrown peas all you need to do is get a pair of clippers and a bowl and start harvesting! Remember that peas grow quickly under the right conditions so the best way to determine when they’re at their best and ready to be harvested is by observing their development daily.