Sugar snap peas are my favorite vegetable to grow, and not because I love their taste more than their garden neighbors. I love them because I trust them. They are faithful. They never disappoint me. They are deliciously crunchy right off the vine—or roasted or steamed or stir-fried or sliced raw for salad. Need more convincing? Here are three reasons why anyone, especially a new gardener, should add sugar snaps to the list.
- They are super easy to grow. Sugar snaps are the only veggie I don’t fertilize, fungicide, Dipel dust, or inspect daily for bugs. They aren’t picky about how much water they get, and they will do well in partial shade.
- Snap peas have a very short shelf life, only a couple days, which makes it nearly impossible to find fresh snap peas at the store or market. Growing them only steps away from where the kitchen magic happens lets you experience this veggie as it is meant to be eaten.
- They are an excellent cropper for smaller spaces. Most plants will end up producing about a ¼ lb total. We have 60 plants across 16’ of short trellis. In the past two weeks, we’ve harvested 6 lbs of snap peas! So even if you only have a 4’ row (or even two window boxes) of about 15 plants, you can expect between 1 and 1 ½ lbs every other week.
Grow your own:
- Most varieties take about 60-70 days from planting to first harvest. They should produce for a few months, but will start to slow down and die out when the temperature gets into the 80s.
- Make sure to plant them 1” deep. Any shallower and the roots will spread out too close to the surface. If this happens, they will be more prone to drying out between watering, and the plant will be in danger of being pulled out of the ground when you are harvesting.
- Let them grow up a short trellis. Sugar snap plants only get about 3’ tall so they don’t technically need a trellis. However, allowing them to grow up makes it easier to harvest and gives you more room in the garden for other veggies.
- Thickness is the best way to determine if a sugar snap is ready to pick. Wait until the pods start to plump up. They are best when they are about pencil width thick.
- Check your peas every other day for picking. They swell up fast! And don’t fret if you miss some and they get too fat. Since those peas tend to be starchy, we prefer to leave any pod that is starting to become round on the vine to dry. Once the pod is fully dried out—brown and paper like—harvest the peas inside as seeds for next season.
How do your sugar snap peas grow? Please share if you have any tips or tricks or favorite recipes!