Peas

Peas are one of the first seeds you can put in the ground in February. They are best directly sown from seed, but they can also be grown from transplants. Climbing varieties yield over a longer time than bush varieties. The tender new shoot add a mild pea flavor to salads. Snap and snow peas have edible pods where as shelling peas yield tasty green seeds that are removed from the pod.

Site Requirements

Peas require full sun (at least six hours of direct sun), and well drained, soil. Mix 1‐2” of compost into planting area. If possible prepare beds the previous fall. Add an all purpose fertilize to the bottom of each planting row.

Planting

Peas are best grown directly from seed. Begin planting in February, or 5 weeks before the average last frost date. Seeds can be planted through May and again in mid July for a fall crop.

There are mixed opinions about soaking pea seeds 24 hours before planting. Try both presoaking and dry peas and see which way works best for you! Damp pea seeds can also be rolled in powdered inoculant to increase nitrogen fixation. Peas will fix nitrogen without inoculant, especially if peas have been grown in the area before. Plant seeds 1” apart and 1” deep in rows 18‐24” apart.

Peas can transplant from starts as well. Be sure to disturb the roots as little as possible and avoid pot bound plants. Water in transplants with a liquid seaweed mixture.

Water Requirements

How much water your plants need will depend on the soil and weather. Peas prefer moist soil for germination, shallow watering may be needed. Once peas germinate their water needs are low until flowering begins. After flowering water when the top 2” of the soil is dry. Avoid overhead irrigation to help avoid fungal diseases. Uneven watering can lead to pithy white rings in the roots.

Maintenance & Fertilizing

Climbing varieties should be trellised or planted near a fence. Bush varieties can be left to grow in a mound or supported by a small trellis. Side dress or fertilize plants when they are 6” tall with compost or a fertilizer high in phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

Pests and Diseases

Good gardening practices such as crop rotation, drip irrigation, proper planting time, floating row covers, and removal of entire plants when harvest is done all help prevent many pest and disease challenges.

  • Cutworm can often mow down all of your seedlings in one night. Spinosad is an organic control for cutworms. Nematodes can help control the larvae.
  • Aphid damage often appears as curled, twisted, yellow leaves. You may find colonies of green to yellow aphids on the undersides of the leaves and growing tips. Also, sticky sap on leaves and stems and white aphid skeletons are quite prevalent. There are numerous sprays and control measures to help combat aphids.
  • Mildews appear as white patches, preceded by reddish patches, on the leaves and stems. Both downy and powdery mildew are fungal diseases. Downy mildew can also cause roots to be misshapen with rough, cracked skin. First remove as much of the infected areas as possible. There are numerous fungicides listed for edibles, such as Serenade, that can prevent the spread of powdery mildew.
  • Root rot may appear as pale or yellowing leaves and stunted plants. Roots will be dry and black at the center. It is a soil fungus initiated by overwatering and/or very heavy soil. There is no recovery from root rot. Amend soil with at least 2” of compost and allow the area to become slightly dry between waterings to avoid root rot. Fusarium wilt is also known as pea root rot in which the leaves turn brown from the bottom up.
  • Snails and slugs leave large holes in leaves when they feed at night. They often leave iridescent trails on leaves and ground. Slug baits, and beer traps are just a few ways to control them.
  • Bacterial blight, or Pseudomonas, first appears as water soaked leaves and pods. Eventually lesions appear that may circle and kill stems. It is spread by cool wet weather and often comes from infected soil or seed. There is no cure. Replant peas in a new area of the garden.
  • Pea Enation Mosaic starts as yellow mottling on leaves and pods followed by tissue outgrowth and distortions. Destroy infected crops and replant in a new area with resistant varieties such as ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’, ‘Cascadia’