Cold-hardy crops in Canada are a staple because of their resilience in frosty temperatures – and even snow!
Aside from radishes, lettuce, and spinach, peas are my next favourite thing to plant in early spring (long before other plants would germinate in the chilly weather).
Some years I have volunteers coming up before I have even planted, sprouting from pods I missed during harvest the year before!
Peas are a diverse vegetable that can be used in a number of ways.
You can eat the sprouts and young shoots fresh on salads (or as a garnish on hot dishes), munch on the pods raw or throw them into a stir fry – or even save the dried pea seeds to add to a hearty soup or stew during the winter months.
There are also some fun varieties to choose from; anything from a standard green shelling pea to a tender edible pod variety to a vibrant purple option!
The fact that they are not only hardy, but also prolific producers and easy to grow make them a solid winner in my book!
Oh, and did I mention incredibly nutritious? Because we’re supposed to get our green veggies and all, right?!
Seeding and Germination
Part of the what makes a plant easy to grow is how simple it is to get them started without transplanting – and their fast germination that will tolerate cool temperatures is a plus.
Peas do best direct seeded…
… or even just tossed onto good soil (I have done this with extra seeds a number of times with great success).
Being sewn outdoors is actually a must in our windy area as the plants get used to the wind from the time they come up versus a tender, pampered plant from a greenhouse that quickly withers or breaks in the strong gusts.
I soak my peas in lukewarm water overnight or up to 24 hours to help speed up their germination.
Within a week or two of planting, my peas are typically poking above the ground.
Remember how I said they are frost (and even snow) tolerant?
This year, we have had -6º C (21º F) temperatures at night – with light snow!
That would kill most plants, but didn’t touch my peas!
I find that a very close grouping does well for me as the plants will vine together and hold themselves up fairly well without a trellis.
If you would prefer a trellis, they can be a beautiful accent piece to your garden or yard – so go for it! (Don’t forget to follow my blog for the upcoming addition of our Garden Arbor and Trellis Archway DIY builds!)
Time to harvest the peas will depend on which variety you chose and what you are harvesting them for.
If you would like to use the tender, young shoots on salads you can start harvesting them within a couple weeks of the sprouts emerging from the ground – just make sure you don’t take too much and kill the plant.
If you are planning to harvest edible pods, make sure you pick them before they become tough and stringy.
You can start harvesting pods within a couple days of the blossom dying back; they don’t take long to mature and the younger the pod, the more tender they will be.
Saving seeds for split pea soup..? Well, you’ll have to wait a little longer for that!
As with all seeds, you need to wait until they have fully dried before storing them.
I typically allow the pods to mature and dry right on the plant, harvesting before they become so brittle the pods will split open when I am picking them.
I allow them to dry in the house until they hit that ready-to-split-on-their-own stage; this makes shelling the peas easy (plus exploding pea pods makes it fun, too)!
On that note… It takes a LOT of pea pods to save for food.
I typically save the peas for seed to use the next spring with the small amount I keep each year.
What is my favourite recipe with peas?
Well, that is a tough question…
I grew up with Creamed Peas and Potatoes fresh out of the garden and will ALWAYS love that dish.
BUT only with fresh, homegrown veggies! Store-bought vegetables don’t taste the same, which is a big part of why those childhood recipes only work with the right ingredients.
(FOLLOW MY BLOG FOR THAT RECIPE TO BE POSTED LATER THIS YEAR!)
My second favourite recipe with peas..?
I would have to say an easy side dish of tender pea pods sautéd in butter with salt and pepper, then finished off with parmesan cheese is a close second!
What is your favourite recipe with peas? Drop a comment below!