The Q&A Archives: Sugar Snow Peas Not Growing

Question: I bought Burpee's sugar snow peas, lot #5, this spring through the Burpee seed catalogue. I was notified at that time that the germination rate was only 75%. I've had the peas in approximately a month, but have only a 10% germination rate. I can replant with the same lot. Would it help if I soaked the peas in water overnight prior to planting? Or should I purchase a different lot #.

Answer: Snow peas (and peas in general) are cool season growers, and can be planted as early as five or six weeks before the last expected frost -- or as early as you can work the soil. The seeds usually germinate fairly quickly -- two weeks would be about the longest it should take. To be honest, it is a bit late to be planting them now for a spring crop. You could plant again in late summer, though, for a fall crop.

To hasten germination, you could condition them by soaking them in water overnight or pregerminate them by wrapping them in a damp paper towel, then wrapping the packet in plastic to maintain humidity and setting it in a bright place away from direct sunlight. Check daily and once the seeds begin to sprout, plant them in the ground. Keep in mind that newly planted peas can rot if kept overly wet, especially in cold weather, yet the soil should be kept evenly moist. (Once seeds begin to germinate they will die if allowed to dry out.) Also, if you have not grown peas in that patch of soil before, you might also consider using a bacterial inoculant specifically for peas.

Finally, you might find that birds stole your seeds/seedlings just as they germinated -- this is a fairly common occurrence as some birds (and other critters, too) seem to consider these a delicacy.

I hope you have better luck with your next try.

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