If you're looking for a veggie you can pop into your mouth straight off the plant and enjoy that satisfying crunch when you bite down, then sugar snap peas are a must-grow for you. Here in Central Texas, we have two opportunities to grow peas, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Sugar snap peas are one of the easiest vegetables to grow as the weather cools. Follow these tips to grow peas under their preferred growing conditions and set yourself up to harvest pod after crisp, delicious pod.
What are sugar snap peas?
Sugar snap peas were created in the 70s as a cross between shelling peas and snow peas. They combine the best of both pea worlds—you can eat the entire pod, not just the peas inside, and the pod walls are nice and thick, but not too fibrous. The whole pod fruit is crisp and oh so sweet!
Will sugar snap peas grow in summer?
Not here in Central Texas. Peas love cooler weather and grow best when the daily high temps are below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so the optimal sugar snap peas season here is the fall and then again in the spring.
Sugar snap plants can handle freezing temps. However, if the plant is blooming during a freeze, the flowers will be damaged and you shouldn't expect to get fruit from those flowers.
Plant sugar snaps in the fall about 8 to 10 weeks before your first anticipated frost; for those of us in the greater Austin area, that planting time is mid September to October.
If you're growing sugar snaps in the spring, the best time to plant them here is February.
Where should you grow sugar snap peas?
Sugar snap peas need to be planted somewhere they'll receive 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day to form flowers and then pods.
While you can grow them in a container, we recommend growing peas and beans in raised beds. Your plants will be more productive because their roots will have room to dig down deep. Plus, they'll fix nitrogen in the soil, which benefits all of your other edible plants growing in the same space.
Do sugar snap peas need a trellis?
Unless you're growing a Tom Thumb variety of sugar snap peas, your plants will need a trellis to climb up. Depending on the cultivar you're growing, your plant can reach heights of 4 to 7 feet tall, and trellises are a great way to keep vining plants like sugar snaps healthy and supported. By holding vines in place, they make harvesting pods a snap!
Shop Trellises from the Lettuce Grow Something Shop
Sugar Snap Peas Planting Guide
If you don't have trellis space available, consider planting Tom Thumb peas, which only grow 8 to 9 inches tall and do well tucked into small spaces in your garden, or Sugar Daddy peas, which reach 2 feet tall.
We love the look of peas vining up a trellis and recommend giving a climbing variety a try if you have the space. You won't be disappointed with the "Sugar Snap" snap pea seeds from Botanical Interest. You'll need to help guide vining plants up their trellis until they get established.
Before planting, amend your soil with a fresh layer of compost.
Dig a little trench about 0.5 to 1 inch deep and space your sugar snap pea seeds about 2 inches apart when sowing (give Tom Thumbs about 4 inches of space so they can bush out a bit).
Keep the soil evenly moist throughout their growing time. Sugar snap peas usually don't require additional fertilization beyond the compost boost given to them at the beginning. Once you notice sugar snap peas flowers appearing, you have the option of giving your plants a liquid seaweed feed like MicroLife Super Seaweed Spray or MicroLife Maximum Blooms Concentrate to support their growth and fruiting.
When are sugar snap peas ready to harvest?
Sugar snap peas are typically ready to harvest in 60 to 80 days. Harvest pods when they're green and tender and the peas inside are just beginning to swell. Pods will be between 1.5 to 3 inches long when they're mature and contain anywhere from 3 to 8 peas inside.
Can sugar snap peas be eaten raw?
The entire plant is edible, and sugar snaps are particularly delicious when they're young and tender. More mature pods may need to be "stringed" first. Look for a little string at the end of each pea pod, and snap the corner around the stem off so that you can peel the string from the pea.
You can eat snap peas raw with dips or tossed in salads. You can also sauté, stir fry, or steam them—just be careful not to overcook them or you'll be eating sugar soggy peas, not sugar snap peas.
Grow with us this fall
No matter what growing season it is, Lettuce Grow Something can help you fill your garden with color, beauty, and nutritious things to eat.
Still need to get your raised beds set up? Not a problem. Our garden consultants are ready to help you build the garden you've always wanted.
Photo credits to LGS and Jennifer Nesbit Holt.
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