Thomas Jefferson and his cronies used to compete to see who could get the first shelled peas on the table. With modern varieties like sugar snap peas, you no longer have to shell them, making it easier to get kids to try these green candies straight off the vine and hook them on homegrown.
The most common complaint I hear about growing peas is lack of seed germination. The trick is to not plant them too deep or too early. Deeper in the soil, itâ€™s cooler and wetter, and peas are liable to rot. To dodge that disaster, use a raised bed â€” itâ€™ll drain faster and warm up quicker. In heavy clay soils, plant seeds about half as deep as recommended and no more than about seven weeks before the average last frost in spring.
I frequently pre-sprout our peas indoors so they can defend themselves from bad microbes once we plant them. I spread them on a cookie sheet, cover them with water and wait a few days for at least half of them to sprout little roots. Plant the peas in a prepared bed, about 2 inches apart in rows about 6 feet apart. Install a trellis of netting, fencing or even tall twigs between the rows.
You donâ€™t have to wait for ripe peas to get a harvest. The first 6 inches of each growing tip is edible â€” perfect in salads â€” and it wonâ€™t hurt the plant. Then, about two months after planting, find a kid to help you harvest pods and get them hooked on growing their own green candy.