October 22, 2010
When I operated an organic farm in Ohio, I grew pea greens for sale at the farmers market. I didn’t know much about them until the market manager suggested we grow them since there was a huge demand, especially among chefs of Asian cuisine. Boy, was she right! Pea greens ended up being one of the easiest crops to grow and one of our top sellers. Ever since then, I’ve grown peas and pea greens in my winter gardens here in Texas with great success. Here’s how to grow them:
1. Purchase a large amount of sugar snap pea seeds since it is easiest to use the broadcast method for seeding and you will be seeding throughout the growing season. I like to use the dwarf grey sugar snap peas from Johnny’s Selected Seeds but any edible pea seed will do. (Note: Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous and should not be used.)
2. Prepare the soil the normal way – cultivate and add compost, then rake the surface.
3. Broadcast the pea seeds over your prepared garden soil – peas are generally spaced about 2 inches apart and broadcasting will roughly mimic this spacing and will create a bed of peas rather than rows.
4. Rake the surface so that some pea seeds are buried or at least incorporated into the top inch or two of your garden soil.
5. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Once germinated, the peas will grow fast. You can harvest the greens by cutting off the tops of the plants once they reach 6-10 inches tall. All parts of the plant are tender and edible at this height.
6. If you leave an inch or two of plant (with leaves on it) in the soil, the peas will grow again and you’ll be able to get at least one more cutting of pea greens.
7. After the second cutting you can place trellises in your garden bed and let the the peas grow to maturity, eventually producing peas to eat. Or you may decide you want to get a third cutting of pea greens!
8. Re-seed every few weeks for continuous harvests throughout the winter and early spring.
9. Even the tender, new shoots of your mature pea plants are edible and can be used as pea greens for salads, stir-fries or as a beautiful, edible garnish on your plate.
Pea Greens on Pumpkin Soup