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When To Pick Peas – A Helpful Guide

Pea plants are part of the legume family, coming with a complex growth cycle that requires flowering and pollination before producing pods. Even though they sound complex, peas are relatively easy to manage, doing most of the work on their own. But, how do you know when to pick peas?

While much of the time to harvest depends on pea variety, many are ready to harvest just three weeks after flowers appear. While time is a great way to estimate, picking peas will depend on a few key factors, including the feel, the color, and the size of each pod. 

When picking peas, you’ll want to use sharp scissors or pinch them off. The more you harvest during the season, the more they will grow, giving you a plentiful harvest before the growing season is over. Below, we’ll introduce you to the life of peas and key things to look for when picking peas.

The Life of Peas

The life of a pea from seed to harvest lasts up to 70 days. During that time, many changes are taking place, each one leading toward full maturation. From seed to harvest, here’s a look at what you can expect.

Stage Time 
Seed to Shoot7 to 14 days
Leaf Production 2 to 5 days 
Maturation (growth around 3 to 4 ft.)7 to 14 days 
Flowering 4 to 6 weeks 
Pea Pods 2 to 3 days after pollination 
Harvest 2 to 3 weeks 

Pea Plant Stages from Seed to Harvest 

Caring For Garden Peas

Peas have a reputation for being relatively easy to grow. While this is true, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put in any work when caring for your peas. Here is what you’ll have to do.

#1. Watch Your Watering

Plants do need water to survive, though the amount you give will depend on several factors. When it comes to peas, you should only aim to water if the springtime is unusually dry. If you have enough rain to keep soil moist at least one inch underground, you may not have to water at all.

#2. Reduce Moisture on Leaves

On the topic of watering, there is also something else to keep in mind. When watering, you want to aim for the base and keep water off the leaves. When water gathers on leaves and stays for a while, it can lead to rot, which will severely damage the plant and result in damage that will cause pods not to grow.

#3. Check Stems and Leaves Often

When out in the garden, you should always make it a point to look at leaves and stems. Check for discoloration or signs of rot or mold. Also, keep an eye out for worms or aphids, which love to snack on fresh leaves and pea plant stems.

Checking for things like these often will help you stop the problem long before it can cause harm. If you lose one plant, you may not have to lose the others, especially if you quickly catch things like mold, rot, and disease.

#4. Use Mulch

Mulch will help to maintain moisture and prevent weeds from growing. Adding mulch to the base of each stem in your garden a few times a month is a great way to combat high temperatures in the late spring and summer months.

When To Pick Peas: Key Signs to Lookout For

The time it takes your peas to mature will depend on the variety. However, even if you’re sure that peas will be ready on a specific date, not all peas will be ready to go simultaneously. Luckily, there are some key signs that you can look out for, indicating exactly when your peas are ready to go.

#1. Pod Feel

The first thing you should check for is pod feel. You want them to be crisp and crunchy, which you can test by snipping off a small piece with your fingernail.

#2. Pod Color

A key sign that your peas are ready for picking is the pod color, which will go from a light yellowish green to dark green. When you see a darker green color, it’s typically an indicator that peas are at their peak flavor.

#3. Pea Size

Apart from checking the outside, you can also check the inside, looking for the size of each individual pea. You want peas to be close together, with the majority of them touching each other before picking.

#4. Pea Feel

Last but not least, you should check how peas feel. Like most veggies, you want them to be firm, not giving when you squeeze them slightly. Firm, crisp peas are usually good for picking, giving good flavor and unique texture.

The Right Way to Pick Peas

When picking peas, you want to do it the right way to ensure that you don’t harm the plant. You can either do this with your fingernails or a pair of pruners. The key is not just where you snip them but how–avoiding any damage to the stem so that pods grow back.

To pick peas the properly, you should:

  • Pick peas early in the morning – this is when they’re the crispest
  • Only pick those that are mature and avoid any that are still ripening
  • Pick often to promote new growth
  • Snip off each pod and avoid the stems as much as possible
  • Store them quick (within an hour) to avoid losing their sweetness
  • If using them, do so soon for the freshest taste

Final Thoughts

Peas are an easy plant to deal with. However, when it comes to getting the best harvest, there are a few things you should keep a lookout for. One of them is the color and feel of pods and peas.

Additionally, as peas make it through their growth stages, look for key signs that they’re ready for harvest, using them as indicators of when you should pick. Don’t just tear them off; use caution to keep your pea plants producing throughout the entire growing season.