How to grow peas

How to grow peas and some soup and salad recipes. It is the only way to enjoy them sweet and tender. Within a day of being picked nearly a half of the sugars are lost and they're a lot less exciting.

Green peas flowers

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 9th April, 2021.

Take a little blinded test. Ask an independent person to serve you

  1. Freshly harvested raw young peas.
  2. Freshly harvested and podded young peas that have been lightly boiled.
  3. Young peas (if you can find them) from the greengrocer, again lightly boiled.
  4. Frozen peas.

Which is your favourite? Obviously you will know which are the raw peas, but how do the others compare? It's chalk and cheese, eh.

Even after harvesting your vegetables are living things; cell activity continues burning up those sweet sugars that make fresh veggies so desirable.

Peas have a very low glycemic index; these are slow-release sugars that will not give you a surge in blood glucose. Frozen the GI is considerably higher but still good at 39. However they do have quite a lot of starch so in the context of the whole meal the amount needs to be limited, especially if you are also having potatoes.

Always take a short walk after a starchy meal; don't head straight for the TV or computer.

It is early Spring again in the cycle of life, my 73st orbit of the sun, and I have started turning the sod, adding compost and getting everything ready for the first row of peas.

The late summer planting of peas has been a great success this year, and we enjoy them every day in our eggs Hilton for breakfast, and in a green salad for lunch.

This page was such a success last autumn, but alas I have just noticed that I never got to the split pea soup recipe in the winter. That is something for the future; my apologies.

There is nothing new about that. Granny made Boston baked beans and black-eyed pea recipes.

Today we look at how to prepare them; and why is that you may ask?

Because fresh green peas from your garden are so much tastier. Yes, it takes time. I make no apology; you can either turn off the TV and get into the garden, or eat dull and tasteless supermarket vegetables.

Or eat red meat for your main source of protein and risk your life. How to grow peas in a back corner of your garden is part of the recipe for a full, long and vibrant life. Just read about the Blue Zone people; they are inspirational.

Do you too not want to sit under the shade of that favourite tree you planted, Gramps, and watch the young 'uns spring up? How to plant peas and lettuce, radishes, and spinach is all so easy and rewarding.

A great sadness

I have been following the saga of a favourite patient's daughter. When three months pregnant with her second child, she got a breast malignancy. The poor woman went through the whole medical saga of amputation and chemotherapy.

Last week granny tearfully told me that she is to be a mother again; two tiny grandchildren have become her responsibility. Her daughter has passed away; she was only 33-years old.

Research in a top medical Netherlands academic hospital concludes that the Holland has the highest rate of breast malignancy in the world, and it is directly caused by too much animal protein; dairy, eggs and red meat.

So will you not join me this summer by planting a couple of rows of fresh green peas in the garden?

Type breast malignancies and prevention into this search engine; the subject should be in the back of every woman's mind. It does not just happen to others.

How to grow peas

How to grow peas because they are rich in vegetable protein and anti-tumour phytosterols; straight from the garden before the sugars have been turned to starch they will add to any salad or dinner dish; we often add a handful to our eggs Florentine breakfast too.

You have a choice now between

  1. Climbing sugarsnap peas
  2. Climbing (pole) ordinary peas
  3. Bush peas

My choice every time is for one of the first two. The sugarsnap peas you eat pod and all, a big advantage, no podding, or a climbing pea that you put in trellis work. They are far less work, with less bending, and they bear more and for a longer period. But, you have to have a trellis or fence. It's worth the time putting it in. You will use it in the summer for pole beans. Greenfeast is our favourite.

A bamboo trellis works very well for pole beans, and also for peas, if you leave the thin branches intact. I used to think a fence was better but it means growing them in the same soil each year; crop rotation is more difficult.

The trellis should for best result run North-South so the peas get sunshine from both sides. Peas tend to get mildew, so they need full sun on both sides of the fence.

Sugarsnap are a hybrid, and the seed will cost you a lot more. But not having to spend laborious hours podding the peas makes it worth the extra cash to my mind.

Peas are heavy feeders but, being legumes they also put a lot of nitrogen back into the soil for your next crop, so if you want tasty, nutritious peas, dig a trench. The deeper the better, but at least 18".

Fill the trench with about 12" of compost, and cover with at least 6" of soil to lessen the damage done by cutworms in the compost. You can heap it up.

That's a lot of work; better still is a handful of vermicompost with each seed.

Peas are heavy feeders so if you want to grow them you'll need compost.

You should not follow one crop with a similar one. So, if you planted pole beans on the trellis last summer, then dig the trench on the opposite side of the trellis for your peas.

There are no apologies for the untidy garden and crooked lines. The peas will not taste any different. You either have what I call Windsor Castle gardening, with three horticulturists and a dozen serfs, or you and I do the work.

I do not mind being the pariah with a few weeds showing and a crooked line in my How to Grow Peas manual, because I know just how tasty and nutritious they are going to be straight from the garden before the sugars have turned to starch.

Prince Charles and I are about the same age, I have always felt a kinship, and not a little sadness, for him; who would want to be a king? Not I, said the little red hen. Nope, I would not swap our lives for all the tea in China; I would far rather be the pauper and enjoy a bit of dirt under my nails now and again. Have you ever read that delightful yarn by Mark Twain?(2)

It is on-line and free and altogether better than Stones in my Clog, I confess; oh for the pen of Twain, but my stories are true, and lot more relevant. The Prince and the Pauper is pure but very entertaining but just a thought-provoking myth.

How to plant peas

The seeds of legumes are often difficult to grow; we routinely place them on a shallow cardboard tray, covered with two layers of newspaper, with the seeds between. Keep them moist in a warm spot; four or five days is need to initiate the germination.

Plant the seed about 5 - 10cm apart and about 1/2" deep (have to please everyone, eh. I wonder what Mark Twain would say today about people who still work with 12" to 1', 3' to a yard?

How many yards there are to a mile, I cannot remember but I do know there are 1000 m in a kilometre. Cover with soil, lightly pressed down; how to plant peas is not rocket science. 

Growing peas need to be encouraged to climb a fence or trellis.

If you keep free range hens, make sure they are confined to quarters whilst you are planting peas; they do not eat the pods surprisingly, like they will attack green beans, but they will scratch out your seedlings.

The plus side is that cutworm attack is minimal; the hens just love them. Definition of cutworm, one of the most destructive creatures of the earth; they can destroy a whole row of sprouting peas.

Plant the pea seeds about 5cm apart.

Protein in Legumes

The protein in legumes is a must for every family, whether you are vegetarian or not. Whether it is the hormones in red meat, or red meat per se, and especially processed like bacon and ham, it is strongly associated with neoplasms. The only solution for those who want to reach a vigorous eighty with their breasts and prostates intact is more vegetable which is high in protein.

Broad beans are the richest, by the way, less of a favourite, but have the distinct advantage of copious quantities of L-dopa, a must for those who might be developing Parkinson's disease.

Do you know about the protein in lentils?

Vegetable high in protein

FOOD Protein in 100g
Green podded peas 5,42
Dried Split peas 24.55
Boiled Split peas 8,34
Green pole beans 1.89
Dried kidney beans 4.2
Dried Chickpeas 19.30
Canned Chickpeas 4.95
Hummus 7.90
Dried Lentils 25.8
Raw Ground beef 21.4
One egg 12.58

The pea is under attack from the weight loss fraternity; undeservedly in my opinion. Yes it contains considerable carbohydrate and sugars but, because of its protein content and fibre, it's a low glycemic index food; that means that it does not activate the fat storage enzyme called insulin in the same way as other starches like potatoes and white rice do; much of it passes through the small intestine undigested. Nevertheless the obese must limit all starch to under 50 grams per day, or suffer a lot of pain, disability and a premature death.

Read more about resistant starch as it's known.

There's only 5g of carbohydrate in a quarter cup of shelled green peas, a typical serving; a third of that is fibre which is resistant starch that is not digested producing sugars, but fermented in the colon by the microbiota to form important short-chain fatty acids.

Plus the green pea contains omega 3, the anti-arthritis fatty acid, and plenty of fibre to protect you from you know what.

Take what is clearly useful from the latest fad diet that you may be following but when they start to tell you avoid apples and peas because of their starch, and avocados because of their fat content, then ignore them; in fact it places the whole diet under suspicion because it is not based on well accepted scientific facts.

There is very powerful scientific research confirming how nutritious these foods are; we omit them for our regular diet at our peril.


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These figures are in some ways distorted. You would battle to eat 100g of lentil protein but the same weight of ground beef or an egg at a sitting is not unrealistic, of course.

My point is simply that the whole gamut of legumes are rich in protein, nearly comparable with animal protein. Those that are dried appear to be richer in vegetable protein because the the water has dried off, but do not underestimate the green pea for example. You could with a bit of enthusiasm enjoy 100g of green peas, but would be hard pressed to swallow them dried and split and made into a soup.

Lentils, chickpeas, split peas and fava beans are the richest in vegetable protein. Try to eat one of them every day. Yes, daily, if you want to escape the nasty lurgy.

A seed is a wonder of nature. I find it mind-blowing that you can drop a shriveled up pea seed into the ground, and 10 days later, astonishing, I find this little miracle shooting up.

How to grow peas brings you right into the Garden Cathedral where Adam first encountered our God. You might too.

The first growing pea shoot is a delight for tired eyes.

And now it is time to reap the rewards of your hard work. These are sugar snap climbing peas, you can eat them pod-and-all, either raw or very gently stir-fried.

These climbing peas are nearly ready for reaping.

Green pea salad

As per usual, I hate precise and restrictive recipes. Do you not find they stifle the creativity in you? And if you forget the celery today, is it a train-smash?


  • Two cups of recently picked and podded green peas
  • A finely chopped shallot
  • A finely sliced red or yellow bell pepper
  • Half a cup of broccoli florets (and if possible some of the bright yellow flowers)
  • A cup of sliced celery
  • Half a dozen radishes.
  • A handful of very finely chopped parsley.
  • Homemade olive oil + lemon juice dressing.
  • Half a cup of yoghurt.
  • A good handful of nuts and seeds. My favourites are the pecan and sunflower.


  1. If the peas are from your garden, just pod them and toss them in raw. If bought and young, briefly steam them together with the broccoli florets for a 2-3 minutes. Longer if they are older. Drain, keeping the water.
  2. Meantime make up a bed of lettuce and rocket in your favourite pretty bowl.
  3. In a mixing bowl, chuck in the celery, shallot and nuts and seeds. Add the yoghurt and a teaspoon of raw honey if you know a local beekeeper. Bought honey is not worth having. Mix them up. A shake of S&P, freshly ground.
  4. Dump the steamed peas and broccoli florets on the lettuce, pour salads and yoghurt mix.
  5. Arrange the thinly sliced peppers and radish prettily, sprinkle the parsley thickly, and finally the raw broccoli flowers. They are not just a garnish, delic.
  6. Let your guests add the olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little of the left over pea water from a decanter.
  7. Let your green pea salad recipe chill for half an hour whilst you chill out with a glass of red wine.

How many will it serve? How long is a piece of string? Come on, you have been cooking long enough to guesstimate. It depends of what else you are serving, but rather serve more of your pea salad recipe, and then a small helping of roast beef and potatoes, and butternut, of course.

Peas add a richness to any salad.

Notice the snow peas (sugar snap) that you can eat pod and all, and the podding peas, both picked no more than fifteen minutes ago in the garden. The taste is divine, unbelievably sweet. You will never get to enjoy this kind of food unless you make time for the garden; and really how to grow peas is not for just folk with a green thumb. Only beans and radish are easier. Pop in a seed, and two months later tuck in.

I am glad I know how to grow peas; last week, being autumn, I dropped about 50 seeds in the ground, first having soaked them on wet newspaper for a few days; they are reluctant to germinate sometimes.

Usually there would be a chunk of feta cheese or half an egg with this, by the way; perhaps a few slithers of salmon.

And they go on and on for weeks.

Adding your own homemade nutritious hummus recipe really makes any salad. Make it in four minutes; notice, too, that you can indulge in real butter on your bread if you are eating these kinds of foods.

Nitrogen Fixation Bacteria

The natural nitrogen in the soil, absolutely essential for the plant and animal kingdom including ourselves comes from two main sources; lightening and bacteria that attach themselves to the roots of legumes; how to grow peas enriches your garden as well as your own body.

These bugs are able to fix the nitrogen in the air and make it available to other plants for growth.

How to grow peas is central to rich garden soil full of the nutrients needed by all your other vegetables.

Peas and hummus will give you enough protein for the meal.

Any crop that follows a legume will bloom from the nitrogen these little friendly bacteria leave behind. Nitrogen fixation bacteria ...

Protein in peas

Fava beans and green peas are the start of eggs Hilton; it gives a sense of satiety like no other breakfast I know; it deals with my midmorning hunger pangs; it's known as satiety.

Eggs Hilton has legumes that are in season, peas in the spring.

Every day we are faced at the Chiropractic Coalface with patients suffering from the ravages of obesity. Terrible arthritis in the knees, foot pain, diabetes, dizziness; part of the solution is the protein in peas, rather than red meat every day; best if you are able is how to grow peas; so much nicer than those frozen.

But in the main, researchers are now finding that it's refined carbohydrate rather than fat that makes us obese; that white rice, delicious soft, doughy rolls, energy drinks and of course chocolate cake.

I have at least half a dozen fresh raw green pods for lunch every day in the cooler weather. Peas for podding are ready for picking, and I have a team of granddaughters just waiting to help me shell them. They rarely reach the pot.

Mind you, a handful tossed on eight colors eggs Florentine is a culinary wonder.

Another favourite is eggs Hilton.

My daughter took my blood pressure yesterday. 128/81, not bad at 70. Know the reason? Part of it at least is masses of raw food. Not that I don't love a good steak now and then.

More legumes in your diet are part of the solution. Take a look at this page.

High protein low fat foods

Just add a few whole sugarsnap peas and hummus to a couple of our lettuce wraps recipes and you have a quick and easy nutritious lunch.

USEFUL LINKS @ How to grow peas

What is potting?

What to plant and when, remembering this applies only to a temperate climate. You would not be planning how to grow peas and then planting four rows in late summer in Chicago as I did yesterday.


Do these simple little lower back exercises every morning before getting out of bed, and particularly on gardening days, as in how to grow peas, and you'll save yourself a lot of pain and money, visits to the chiropractor and the risk of the complications of surgery. Less than two minutes.

  • Leg pain sciatica ... avoid it! Rather exercise!

Truth of it, most of us, with the best will in the world, all the care, all the exercises will occasionally have slipped disc symptoms to contend with. If it starts in the leg, do not delay. Get to your chiropractor, remembering that if you FIRST consult your doctor, research shows you are far more likely to end up under the knife.

Always before gardening, before how to grow peas, I do my lower back exercises. Prevention is better than a cure.

Black eyed pea recipe

Some like it hot! I do. So there are chillies or jalapeno peppers in this salad recipe.

You'll need:

  1. One small onion, finely chopped
  2. One red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  3. A couple of shallots or spring onions, chopped too.
  4. Either a quarter of a red chillie, or two jalapenos, finely chopped.
  5. Four large very ripe tomatoes, chopped.
  6. A clove or three of garlic
  7. Juice of half a lemon and a couple tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  8. One can of black eyed peas, another of black beans, drained
  9. A sprig of fresh coriander from your herb garden, such an easy herb to grow. A weed!
  10. A large handful of parsley or rocket, finely chopped.

Just toss into a large bowl, mix well and let the herbs and spices penetrate your black eyed peas recipe for a couple hours. Spread on a bed of fresh lettuce and young spinach leaves from the garden. Remove some of the chillie seeds if you don't like it too hot, remembering that's where most of the capsaicin is to be found.

I've never tried it, but this coming year after how to grow peas, I am going to try making it with fresh green peas straight from the garden.

Do you suffer from indigestion heartburn? Use rather less raw onion and perhaps parboil it. And drink plenty of fluid BEFORE your meal, not after.

Here is one more anecdote. After 15 years of bellyache after my evening meal (I have a small hiatus hernia, and heliobacter infection) a daily dose of homemade kefir completely cured it in one week; never underestimate the importance of the normal flora in the gastrointestinal tract.

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