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Growing Sugar Snap Peas Made Easy [From Seed to Harvest!]

Sugar snap peas are delicious! I love eating them raw, steamed, stir-fried, sauteed, or pickled. Homegrown, freshly picked peas are also sweeter than ones you can buy. Not to mention – much fresher and crispier.

Luckily, growing sugar snap peas is also simple to grow from seed if you follow a few basic steps.

We want to show you how!

Sound good?

How to Grow Sugar Snap Peas

  1. Sow your sugar snap pea seeds in early spring, an inch deep.
  2. Soak the seeds overnight to improve their germination rate. Sugar snap pea seeds take 1-2 weeks to germinate.
  3. Plant in free-draining soil, in full sun to part shade. Space your rows 12-20″ apart.
  4. Provide a trellis or other form of support for tall sugar snap pea varieties.
  5. Water regularly, about 1″ of water weekly.
  6. Pea varieties take 60-90 days from sowing to harvest. Harvest daily to encourage your plants to produce more pods.
  7. Pick the pods when the peas inside plump upwards, and the pods are still glossy.
  8. If the pods turn dull in color and harden, use them in soups or stews (or save the seeds for next season!)

Maintaining your pea crop is straightforward once it begins flourishing. We also have many tips to ensure your sugar snap peas thrive and produce a generous yield. 

One of the most crucial tips is timing your sugar pea harvesting. Anyone can grow sugar snap peas in a container, on a patio, or in a vegetable garden. 

But – timing is everything!

fresh sugar snap peas in the garden
Sugar snap pea seeds are ready for sowing as soon as the soil is warm enough to work! Sugar snap peas can also tolerate light frosts – but they grow (and germinate) best around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant seeds roughly one-inch to two-inches deep.

When to Grow Sugar Snap Peas

All peas, including sugar snap varieties, are cold weather crops. Plant your Sugar snap peas early in the spring. Before the final frost date if you choose! Young pea seedlings are resistant to light frosts.

The key to getting an abundant harvest of snap peas is to plant them early enough in the season so that they grow as large as possible before the heat of summer.

In warmer climates, you can also plant peas eight weeks before the first fall frost, and you can enjoy a second crop of sugar snap peas later in the season.

When the soil temperature reaches around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it is warm enough to plant peas. The optimal temperature range for germination is roughly 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. (Pea seeds in colder soil take longer to germinate. We prefer warmer soil!)

Growing Sugar Snap Peas From Seed

It takes sugar snap pea seeds a week to 10 days to germinate. Some pea seeds take up to 14 days, especially with low soil temperatures. To speed up the germination rate, soak the seeds in a small bowl of water overnight.

Bacteria and other soil microbes have a symbiotic relationship with plants and help them take up nutrients. Rhizobium leguminosarum is a strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

A great way to ensure that your peas get off to the best start possible and to bolster their resistance to diseases like powdery mildew is to inoculate the seeds with beneficial microbes when you plant them.

Inoculant is available in powder form at garden centers and supply stores. The pea seeds should be rolled and covered in powder just before you put them into the ground.

Sugar snap peas need rich, fertile soil to grow in. They also need soil with excellent drainage. Peas are susceptible to rot if the ground stays wet for long periods.

The best position in cool-climate gardens for sugar snap peas is in full sun. In warmer climates, you can plant peas in an area that gets morning sun but still gets shade in the afternoon.

Prepare the soil for planting by loosening the top few inches lightly and making a 1-inch-deep furrow. Plant the seeds into the trench, allowing 2 inches of space between them. For rows of peas, leave 12 to 20 inches of space between rows.

Gently rake soil over the seeds. Cover the pea seeds with around an inch of soil. With the back of the rake, tamp the soil down gently to create good contact between the pea seeds and soil.

Water the newly planted peas generously. Keep the soil moist while germinating, and once a week, water them deeply. If the soil dries out or the plants get too hot? They stress. Stress diminishes the yield.

Keep the soil around the peas weed-free. That way, they do not have to compete for water and nutrients.

It is not necessary to fertilize pea plants. Too much nitrogen in the soil will encourage them to grow lots of foliage, but they may not flower.

Read More – Growing Black Beans! Your All-in-One-Guide!

Trellising Sugar Snap Peas 

Sugar snap peas have a climbing-growth habit and can reach 6 to 8 feet tall. They grow thin, wiry green tendrils that reach out for things to grab onto and snag! You do not have to tie peas onto a trellis; they have no trouble reaching. And grabbing!

It is best to build a trellis for your peas before planting them. This way, the pea seedlings will attach themselves and climb up the garden trellis as soon as their tendrils can reach. Plant them into a furrow right at the base of the garden trellis.

A pea trellis needs to be sturdy enough to withstand strong winds and support the weight of the pea plants. Plant the poles deep into the ground, knocking them in with a hammer or heavy mallet so that they cannot wiggle or sway.

Attach chicken wire or fencing to the trellis to give the peas a large surface area to grab onto and seize.

Want a fun idea? Build a roundish teepee out of wooden stakes (bamboo poles work well). Stick them deep into the ground in a circle, around 4 feet wide, and use twine to secure the ends of the stakes.

Wrap twine around the whole teepee. Plant the pea seeds in a circle, close to the base of the teepee, and watch as they grow and cover the entire structure.

Growing Sugar Snap Peas in Containers

Sugar snap peas are the ideal vegetable for growing in a container garden. They grow surprisingly fast. And, for their size, produce a large harvest.

The container or pot must be at least 12 inches in diameter and have adequate holes for drainage. Fill with rich, fertile soil that has been amended with perlite or grit to improve drainage.

Even though peas grown in pots do not get as big as in the ground, they may still require a trellis or other support. Use a wooden stake or bamboo poles. You can create a small teepee in the center of the pot.

Plant the seeds an inch deep in a circle at the base of the stakes, leaving around 2 inches of space between them.

Water the pea seeds in well, place them in a shady spot, and keep the soil evenly moist while they germinate. Adding a layer of mulch, such as compost or wood chips, is a great idea to prevent evaporative water loss.

When the peas have germinated and after their third set of leaves have developed, move them in a sunny spot and watch them take off!

When to Harvest Sugar Snap Peas

plump peas on the vine green farm garden
Once your sugar snap peas look like they’re getting plump – begin sampling them! If they taste sweet and tender – and if they look thick – then harvest them! The quality quickly degrades if you wait too long to harvest.

Peas are generally ready to harvest from around the middle of June to early in July. This timing is dependent on your climate and the time of sowing. The majority of pea varieties are ready to harvest between 60 and 90 days from sowing.

Pick snow pea varieties when the peas inside are still small. But – make sure the pods are still flat. For sugar snap peas, wait until the peas inside the pod plump upwards. Ensure the pod is glossy. Do not wait for the pods to get a waxy appearance.

My favorite pea harvesting time is mid-morning – after the dew has evaporated. I find this timing is when the peas are the sweetest and crispiest.

Peapods grow very fast, so you need to harvest them daily. Frequent harvesting will also cause the plants to produce more pods.

If the pods turn dull in color and harden, they are too old to eat fresh. Do not fret if you wait too long and miss the sugar snap peas. You can pick the older ones and dry them to add to soups or stews. Or save the seeds to plant next season.

Best Sugar Snap Pea Varieties

Peas fall into two types: shelling peas and podded peas. The former gets removed from the pods before being eaten, while the latter gets devoured whole. Sugar snap peas and snow peas are podded peas.

Some sugar snap pea varieties are dwarf or bush, meaning that they grow in a more compact form – great for growing in pots. Other varieties are climbers and must be trellised.

The following sugar snap pea varieties are tried and tested, pest and disease resistant, and produce loads of deliciously sweet and crunchy pods:

  1. Sugar Snap Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers
  2. Sugar Snap Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers

    These classic sugar snap peas are our favorite! They're perfect for snacking right after harvest. You can also store them, toss them in a salad, or make epic stir fry that your family won't believe. Expect vines of around 6 feet and peapods of roughly 3 inches.

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  3. Sugar Ann Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers
  4. Sugar Ann Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers

    Sugar Ann is an heirloom variety developed in the 1970s. It is a dwarf vining variety suitable for cool and warm climates. The pods are flat, stringless, and sweetest when they are 2 to 3 inches long. This cultivar is suitable to grow in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9

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  5. Dwarf White Sugar Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers
  6. Dwarf White Sugar Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers

    These Dwarf White Sugar peas grow surprisingly fast, yet they are easy to contain as they only grow around 3 feet high. The peapods themselves are deliciously sweet are about 2 inches long. This cultivar has been around for hundreds of years - so you can rock these peapods with pleasure - and prestige!

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  7. Mammoth Melting Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers
  8. Mammoth Melting Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers

    Mammoth Melting is an heirloom variety that produces giant pods 4 to 5 inches long, and the plants tower over 6 feet tall. They are an excellent cool-weather variety, sensitive to heat – suitable in USDA hardiness zones 1 to 9. The pods are ready to harvest 60 to 90 days after sowing. The baby pea shoots are also tasty microgreens.

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  9. Oregon Sugar Pod II Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers
  10. Oregon Sugar Pod II Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers

    Oregon Sugar Pod II was developed in 1985 by scientists at Oregon State University. They were bred to be disease resistant and are a very reliable cultivar. The pods are 4 to 5 inches long and are ready in 60 to 90 days after sowing. This cultivar is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 1 to 9.

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  11. Dwarf Grey Sugar Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers
  12. Dwarf Grey Sugar Pea Seeds | Eden Brothers

    Dwarf Grey Sugar is a snow pea variety with a vining growth habit. They only reach 3 feet tall, making them more manageable to trellis, especially in smaller growing spaces. This cool-weather cultivar is best grown in USDA hardiness zones 1 to 9.

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  13. Sugar Sprint Snap Pea Seeds | True Leaf Market
  14. Sugar Sprint Snap Pea Seeds | True Leaf Market

    Sugar Spring snap peas are some of the speediest peas around. They're ready in only about 58 days! Sugar Snap peapods are about three inches tall and don't contain many strings. So - not only are they ludicrously fast, but they're also perfect for snacking. And they're - surprisingly plump!

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  15. Sugar Daddy Snap Pea Seeds | True Leaf Market
  16. Sugar Daddy Snap Pea Seeds | True Leaf Market

    Sugar Daddy is an organic, heirloom dwarf bush variety that only reaches around 30 inches tall and needs little trellising. This cultivar is resistant to powdery mildew. The stringless pods are ready to eat only 74 days after planting the seeds.

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  17. Super Sugar Snap Pea Seeds | True Leaf Market
  18. Super Sugar Snap Pea Seeds | True Leaf Market

    Super Sugar Snap is a fast-growing cultivar that produces plump, crunchy pods only 64 days after sowing. It grows tall and requires trellising. This variety grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9. The best part is that they taste heavenly, whether sauteed in butter or right off the vine.

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Common Snap Pea Pests and Diseases

The following issues are often a problem when growing peas. Look out for:

  • Pea aphids – The sworn enemy of peas everywhere! These tiny, sap-sucking creatures are a nuisance to your pea pod crop. Keep an eye out – and look closely!
  • Downy mildew – Downy mildew on your pea pods is a sign of Phytophthora phaseoli infestation.
  • Powdery mildew – A fungal disease that impacts pea pod crops in the late season. Farmers usually notice blatantly white-powdery spots on the leaves and pods.
  • Root-knot nematodes – Usually, I love garden worms. But – not these! Root-knot nematodes are parasitic worms that love feasting upon the roots of your garden crops. Not nice!
  • Wireworms – What’s the clicking sound? It’s the infamous click beetle! And – even worse, their dreadful offspring – wireworms! Wireworms love indiscriminately chomping your crops. Peas, beans, and potatoes included!

Read More – How to Grow Jalapeños in Containers, Pots, and Buckets!

Sugar Snap Peas FAQs

fresh green sugar snap peas ready for devouring
The best thing about sugar snap peas is that you never need to remove the peas from the pod. Pop the entire pea pod in your mouth! Or – chop it up and toss it into a fresh stir fry. Or garden salad. Sprinkle with a dash of Italian dressing. And enjoy your harvest!

We have a ton of experience growing sugar snap peas!

We also know that many of our homesteading and farming friends have loads of questions about the best snap pea growing strategies.

That’s why we compiled this list of common snow pea and sugar snap pea growing FAQs.

We hope these help you in your gardening journey!

Read More – Chokeberries vs. Chokecherries! Are They Safe to Eat? Or – Not?

Conclusion

As long as you follow a few basic steps, growing peas is easy and fun. If you treat them well – and keep your eyes on the crop? You are almost guaranteed to get a bountiful harvest of sweet, crunchy, green pods.

Sugar snap peas are cool weather crops perfect for planting in the ground or pots. Some pea cultivars require trellising to support them, as they can grow very tall, reaching up to 8 feet!

They should be planted very early in spring before the final frost date. The soil temperature must be at least 45°F. Peas need rich, well-draining soil to grow optimally.

While they are germinating, keep the soil evenly moist. After sprouting, give peas an inch of water once a week. (I also feed mine slightly more than one inch per week when the weather gets hot. But – don’t let them get waterlogged!)

Sugar snap peas only take 60 to 90 days until they are ready for harvest! Pick the pods in the morning while they are the sweetest and crispiest.

We thank you so much for reading our sugar snap pea growing guide!

If you have questions – or want to brainstorm more about sugar snap peas – please ask.

We love brainstorming with fellow homesteaders and pea gardeners.

And – we want to help.

Thanks again for reading!

Author

  • Elle

    Jack of all trades, master of some. Wild garden grower. Loves creating stuff. From food forests and survival gardens to soap and yoghurt. A girl on a farm with two kids and one husband (yep, just one - although another one would be handy). Weirdly enjoys fixing fences and digging holes. Qualified permaculture teacher and garden go-to.

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