Peas are typically one of the first vegetables to be planted in the early spring each year. Not only are they easy to grow, but they are also quite prolific, producing an abundance of little green pods each year.
It’s not uncommon to get oodles of peas from just a few plants in a season.
One of the trickiest things about growing peas is knowing when to pick them. It can be difficult to know when the peas are ready for harvesting if you are a new vegetable gardener.
Here are a few tips on knowing how and when to pick peas in your vegetable garden so that you don’t end up harvesting a bunch of empty pods.
When to Pick Peas
There are several different types of peas that you can grow in your vegetable garden. There are shelling peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas just to name a few.
This guide will mainly focus on when to pick shelling peas, but we will also go over harvesting snow peas and sugar snaps a bit later.
When checking shelling peas you can’t just go out and start harvesting the pods. You will need to check each one to make sure they are ready to be picked. You will quickly be able to distinguish a pea pod that is ready and one that is not with just a bit of practice.
There are two ways you can check the pod to find out whether it is ready to be harvested.
First, look at the pea pod. You want to look for one that is very fat and filled out. That signifies that it is ready to be harvested – like the one below.
You can also check the peas with your hand. Gently grab the pea pod and gently rub it. You should be able to feel the lumps of the peas contained in the pod. If the lumps do not feel that defined then give the peas a couple more days to fill out.
Check out the image below. This pea pod is not quite filled out enough yet to be harvested.
If you look closely you can tell there are indeed small peas in this pod, but they are not as filled out and plump as the previous pod.
At first glance you may want to harvest it, but after a closer examination you can see that it needs a couple more days to fill out.
If you are uncertain about how big the peas are simply harvest the plumpest pod you can find and open it up to check out what’s inside.
The image above shows that this pod has nice-sized peas inside and it was ready to harvest.
Now you know that pods that are the same size as this one are ready for picking. Any pods that are flatter than this one should be left on the plant for a few more days so they can fatten up a bit more.
Picking Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas should be harvested when the pods just begin to fatten up, but before the peas get very large. Harvest these when the pods give a clear snap when broken in two, similar to green beans.
The pod and all is edible and commonly used in Asian meals.
Sugar snaps are much better when harvested early and often, because the pods can get stringy and tough. Some sugar snaps may have a string that runs down the center of the pod. This string should be removed before cooking or eating.
Picking Snow Peas
Like Sugar snap peas, snow peas are generally harvested while they are young. Harvest snow peas once the peas get to the size of a B-B. Pick them early and often to help promote more flowering. Snow peas are ready about five to seven days after the bloom emerges.
It may take a few tries to really get the hang of picking peas, but it won’t take long before you are a pea picking pro.
Next, we will go over how to pick peas.
How to Pick Peas
Removing the pea pods from the plant is very easy. Simply grab the top of the pod with your index and middle fingers on the bottom of the pod.
Place your thumb on top of the pod so that it’s between your two fingers. Now apply pressure using your thumb and insex finger to “pinch” the pod from the vine.
If the peas are at their ideal harvesting size you can sometimes picked them by giving the pod a gentle tug and it will pop lose from the vine. Avoid jerking on the peas too hard, you may accidentally pull the vine off the pea fence, or damage the plant.
If you are uncertain about this method you can always use a pair of sharp scissors and snip the pods off until you are more comfortable picking them by hand.