When you think about harvesting your peas, take into consideration the type of pea plant, planting conditions, and timing.
- English (garden) peas should have plump pods, with the seeds inside developed but still tender. You should be able to feel the seeds inside, but they should not be hard.
- Snow peas are ready for harvest when the pods are developed, but before seeds appear.
- Sugar snap peas should be tender, with immature seeds inside, if your goal is to eat the pods at their sweetest. If you are growing them for the seeds, wait until the seeds are more mature.
Peas mature in as little as 54 days from planting. Begin checking your peas as soon as the maturity date arrives. Your seed packet will tell you the number of days to maturity, as well as the expected length of a mature pod.
Once you begin harvesting, check your pea plants daily for more fruit. Depending on the type of pea plant, you will have about two weeks of harvesting—try not to fall behind!
Pea Harvesting Bonus Tips: Pick your peas with two hands: one to hold the vine and another to detach the pod. Simply pulling on the fruit can damage the tender plants. Peas should be eaten as soon as possible after picking, though they will hold their flavor in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you suddenly have more peas than you know what to do with, you can freeze them to enjoy later. Rinse the peas and blanch them in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. Drain well and place in zipper freezer bags, removing as much air as possible and place in the freezer where they will keep for up to six months.
Do you grow different varieties of peas? Which ones do you grow? Please tell us how you use your pea harvest—and what you do with all the excess peas? Do you freeze or can them? Or do you give them away to family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy?