The Q&A Archives: Growing Garden Peas

Question: I have been very unsuccessful with peas in my garden. I am determined to find out how to acheive a successful crop. The peas will start but fizzle out. I may get one or two pods. What times of the year can I plant for a successful crop for zone 8?

Answer: In zone 8 your last frost should be about mid-March and your first frost should arrive about mid-November. Since peas are a cool-season crop, you'll have best results by planting them 4-6 weeks before your last frost or 10 weeks before your first frost date. As long as the soil temperature is 40F, you can plant the first crop in early to mid-February and your late crop in mid-August to early September. Peas grow best in a sunny spot, in well-amended and well-draining soil. Work some organic matter into the soil prior to sowing, but go easy on manure or other fertilizers. Peas manufacture their own nitrogen and do not require regular fertilizer applications. Mix compost or leaf mold into the bed, then sow your seeds. Applying just the right amount of water to peas can be tricky. Too much water before the plants flower will reduce yields. On the other hand, dry soil when the seeds are germinating or the plants are flowering and the pods swelling will reduce the quality and quantity of harvest. Supply one-half inch of water every week until the plants begin to bloom. Then increase their water supply to 1" per week until the pods fill out. Hope following the above will substantially increase your harvest of peas!

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