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How to sow and grow winter peas

Peas in the winter? Well that may be asking too much. But these plants provide delicious fresh pea shoots during the coldest months. So you can keep enjoying your Planty Garden all year long.
Our winter pea shoots

What are winter peas?

This Feltham First pea variety grows great in colder temperatures. You harvest the delicious shoots, flowers, and peas. (Just skip the pods: they're not edible.)

For a winter crop, sow your winter peas in October and November. If you grow them in a cold frame or use an MM-Muts crop cover, you can harvest fresh shoots all winter. 

If you don't use a crop cover or cold frame, you can also sow them early in the spring: from mid February until June. As soon as the temperature rises a little, the plants grow quickly. With a bit of luck you can start cutting shoots in April.

The adult plants grow to about 40-50 cm high. So put them in a patch at the back of your garden box.

Winter peas: packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibers

Winter peas contain vitamin A, B1, B5, and B6, C and K, and folic acid. Plus the minerals potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, as well as many antioxidants like lycopene. They are true vitamin bombs.

Compared to other vegetables, peas contain a reasonable amount of calories, but also extremely high levels of dietary fibers. These fibers are good for your digestion and provide a feeling of fullness. Additionally, they also contain a significant amount of protein, which is beneficial for vegans and vegetarians.

You eat them (briefly) cooked, never raw. Like other legumes, they contain some anti-nutrients that can be toxic in large quantities. Heating the peas eliminates this.
Plate full of freshly harvested peas (photo by Silvia)

More about our winter peas

It’s all in the name: this pea can handle the cold. The young shoots are delicious. The flowers are also edible.

If you let the plants grow, you get delicious peas. Sow them in the fall to harvest winter shoots.
  • Species name: Garden Pea Feltham First
  • Family: legume
  • Plants per square patch: 9
  • Height: 60 cm
  • Sowing time: mid-February till end of June and/or October
  • Sowing depth: 2 to 3 cm
  • Time to harvest: shoots from 6-8 weeks, peas 8-12 weeks
  • Germination: 7 to 23°C in 6 to 24 days
  • Sunlight: Early in the year they like to grow in the sun, later they can grow in the sun or shade.
Want to buy winter peas? We sell seed bags separately or you can get them as part of a 'Specials' seed pack:

What do you need to grow your own winter peas?

Just this:
  • a 30x30 cm patch with airy, nutritious soil mix
  • winter peas
  • a place with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day
In other words: an MM-Mini, or a square patch in one of our garden boxes, filled with MM-Mix.

Growing your own winter peas is super easy with the MM-Mix. If you grow in low-quality (potting) soil, disappointment is pretty much guaranteed. So don't skimp on soil mix: go for the best.
Snow pea plants at the back of the garden box grow up the trellis

How do you sow and grow winter peas?

Winter peas are included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each plant goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next.

So you don't need to know how to grow winter peas before you start: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the process looks like:
Winter peas ready for sowing. Well, almost:

Level 1: Pre-sprouting winter peas

Before you sow your peas outside in your garden box, you want to help them create their first roots. We call this pre-sprouting or pre-germinating.

Pre-sprouting is easy: lay the peas between 2 layers of damp paper towel. After a couple of days, they'll swell up and germinate. When the roots appear, you can sow them directly into your garden box.
Peas sprouting roots

Level 2: Sowing peas

Choose a square patch in the back 2 rows of your garden box. Loosen up the damp MM-Mix and sow like this:
  • poke 9 holes in the patch (2 to 3 cm deep)
  • choose the nicest-looking that grew roots
  • put 1 pea in each hole: gently so the roots don't break off
  • carefully cover up the holes with soil mix
After about a week or 2, you'll see something come up. It depends a bit on the weather and the time of year.

Watch out though. Birds love the peas and young pea plants, especially if there's not much other bird food available. Put a clear deli container over the spots where you sowed your peas. It not only protects them from birds but acts like a mini-greenhouse, allowing the plants to grow faster.

A crop cover like the MM-Muts is perfect for this too.
Sprouted pea: ready to sow

Level 3: Pea seedlings

As soon as you see the first seedlings, you know things are going well. They probably won't all come up at once, but give it another week. It can take anywhere from 6 to 24 days days. 
Winter pea seedlings

Level 4: Caring for your winter pea plants

Now your seedlings will become small plants. 

You hardly need to do anything. Just make sure they get enough water and remove any weeds. They'll grow all on their own. Easy 🙂

Level 5: Place a rack over your winter pea plants

As the plants grow taller, they quickly become too weak to stand on their own. Therefore, place a support rack over the plants.

You can easily make such a rack from some garden mesh:
Winter pea plants with a mesh support rack
But it also works to set up 4 bamboo sticks as a teepee over the bed, and wrap some wire around it.

Another week or 2 later, the first flowers appear.

Level 6: Blossoming winter peas

After 3 or 4 weeks the plants start to bloom: gorgeous butterfly flowers. They're edible and just as delicious as the pea shoots.

But be sure to leave a few flowers. That's where your pea pods will grow.
Winter pea flowers

Level 7: Harvest the first winter peas

Only pick these pods when they are nice and thick and you can feel the peas inside them. Open the pods and harves the peas: the pods aren't edible.
Winter peas ready to harvest

How do you cook winter peas?

The young shoots are delicious raw in a salad or tossed in a stir fry.

If you wait and harvest the pods, only eat the beautiful peas inside. Blanch, boil or stew them. Or throw them in your salads, stir fries, or scrambled eggs with salmon: delicious! 
Snow peas with roasted almonds and lemon zest

The last levels

As long as there are still flowers on the plants, they'll continue producing pea pods.

Once all the pods are gone, it's time to remove the plants from your pea patch and get ready to sow something new. Be sure to leave the roots with white bumps in your garden box. Those are good for the soil mix and great for the vegetables that you'll grow there next.

Winter peas in autumn: harvest the shoots

In October, you can sow again: specifically for the shoots.

If you do this in a cold frame (a vegetable garden box covered with a glass or plastic sheet) or protect them during the coldest weather with a MM-cover, you can continue to harvest fresh shoots throughout the winter.

The young shoots (or twigs, however you want to call them) are very tasty; they taste a bit like peas. Delicious to add raw to salads, include in a green smoothie, or stir-fry with.
Seedlings of winter peas in a cold frame

So, what's stopping you from growing winter peas yourself?

This tasty pea is easy to grow and does well in colder weather. You can harvest the shoots and the flowers too. 

Plus: with the help of our app and materials, it's almost impossible to fail 😉 

Order your winter peas here or get started with a complete set:

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