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How to Grow Snow Peas

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Snow peas may have been named because in bright sunlight their light green pods look as if they might be tinged with frost. One of the oldest vegetables, the earliest recorded pea was grown in 9750 BC on the Thai-Burma border. Since snow peas are a favorite addition to Asian dishes, this pea might very well have been a snow pea ancestor.

In the large family of legumes, the snow pea (pisum sativum macrocarpon) is a flat-podded pea that bears both pods and seeds that are sweet and edible.

Snow peas aren’t particular about soil quality, but they do need good drainage. Plant snow pea seeds about 2-inches apart and one to two inches deep. Snow peas grow best in full sun, but in an area where plants receive some shade from the midday sun as the season progresses.

Peas are a cool weather crop. Although snow peas adapt better to higher temperatures than regular peas, for best results you should sow seeds as soon as the soil can be worked. For best germination, keep soil moist yet be careful not to over water, since saturated soil will cause your seed to rot. In fact, the biggest problems you face in growing snow peas are root rot and powdery mildew, both of which begin in soil that is too wet. However, once seeds germinate, plants need to be watered regularly for optimum harvest.

Because they are legumes, there is no need to fertilize snow peas. In fact, legumes make their own fertilizer and are often grown as cover crops to replace lost nutrients to soil. However, snow peas, like most varieties of peas, are climbers and grow best with the support of a trellis, fencing, or beanpole.

When temperatures reach a steady 70 degrees, the rate of growth slows and plants begin to die. Harvest peas when pods are about three inches in length but still flat. You’ll need to use your snow peas soon after harvest since they quickly lose their sugar content after they’re picked.


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