By Cary Sims
Angelina County Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Agent
There is always a favorite variety of fruit or other food I love that proves difficult to grow. Snow peas are one such vegetable for me. Difficult yet highly desired. Snow peas won’t take heat and won’t tolerate a freeze. They can, however, tolerate lights frosts. With our fluctuating weather, that leaves little room for this delicacy of a vegetable. Raising snow peas in the fall might well be our best chance to get a successful crop.
If you’ve ever admired the vertical climbing structures in garden photographs, you’ll do well to have that on hand for these peas. Yes, there are a few bush varieties, but most require a trellis to support their climbing vines. It can be something as simple as a section of fence between two posts or as elaborate as a topiary trellis with an elaborate finial.
Here are some growing tips. First, select a site with at least eight hours of direct sunlight for maximum production. If shading occurs, make sure it is afternoon shade. Plant in raised beds at least six to 12 inches high with rows far enough apart for you to walk down and work them. Oddly, snow peas are not too picky about their soil type, so long as it will drain well. Plant seed thick, about three to four per inch keeping in mind that you must come back and thin out the plants to one every by half soon after they sprout. Snow peas must be watered regularly. When the soil is dry one inch below the surface, water deeply until the soil is moist eight inches deep.
Snow peas will be ready to harvest about 70 days after planting. They are edible when very small but reach full flavor when the pods are full sized, tender and have peas the size of BBs. Harvest every other day to avoid fibrous pea pods. If you miss some peas, go ahead and pick them and discard them so that the plant will continue to flower and produce.
Originally from Asia, try the following varieties: Mammoth Melting Sugar, Oregon Sugar Pod II, Dwarf White Sugar and Dwarf Grey Sugar.
I think snow peas may be the sweetest treat in the garden and that you may have problems waiting until you get inside before eating them.