1. The Basics. There are two major pea types: green peas (or English peas) and the edible-pod varieties (called sugar peas or snow peas), which are cooked and eaten with their pods. Although the yield for the edible-pod varieties is smaller, they are well worth growing for their delicate flavor and crisp texture.
2. The Long and Short of It. Both green peas and edible-pod peas come in tall-vined and dwarf varieties. Dwarf peas usually require no support. The tall varieties need some support on which to climb, but they repay the extra effort with larger harvests.
3. Time it Right. Peas are extremely susceptible to heat and will stop maturing when the temperature regularly climbs above 70°F (21°C). When buying seeds, check the length of time each variety takes to mature. Choose early types if you live in an area with a short, cool spring. If cool weather lasts into summer, buy both an early and a late variety, and plant the two at the same time for a continuous crop.
4. Protection for the Peas. Peas planted in cold, wet soil may succumb to rot. To naturally avoid this problem, add organic compost to the soil to boost beneficial microbes that protect against rot. Do not sow too early. You can also apply a beneficial organic fungal product (Trichoderma harzia-num) to protect seedlings from rot.
5. Garden Multi-tasking. Because peas are a cool-weather crop, planted in early spring and because they mature quickly — about 55 days for very early peas — you can start another vegetable in their place after they have been harvested.
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