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Peas Growing

How to Grow and Harvest Peas

Peas are believed to be one of the very first crops to be cultivated by humans, possibly for their high nutritional value, and evidence has been found of pea consumption as far back as 9750BC.  Peas provide us with protein, fiber and a vast array of vitamins and minerals we need on a daily basis

There are various types and sub types of onion for the South African home gardener. 

The following options are available


  • Shelling Peas: Cultivated primarily for the pea seeds - pod shells are tough and fibrous -                                                 inedible
  • Sugar Snap Peas Round, plump sweet pods and seeds - cultivated for cooking whole and eaten                                                 fresh
  • Snow Pea/Mangetout Flattened sweet pods and seeds - cultivated to be cooked whole and eaten                                       fresh

All varieties come in different classifications and, in turn there are a myriad of types to suit everyone's' needs and tastes.



Soil Preparation and feeding for Peas

As with most vegetables, peas will grow adequately in most soil types, but the quality and yield of any crop can only be expected to be as good as the soil that feeds the plants.  Peas develop an impressive deep tap root system with plenty of laterals.   Prepare the soil to a depth of at least 30 - 40cm, work in a good quantity of compost and manure as well as some wood ash and then mulch well.

Do not add nitrogen to the soil. Legumes take nitrogen in through their leaves and deposit a fair amount around their roots.  When the plant is finished producing chop off only the part of the pant that is above soil level and leave the roots that are rich with nitrogen in the soil for usage by follow up crops

Peas require the support of trellises or fencing.  Basic fencing or appropriately spaced screening can be made quickly using reeds or bamboo.  Ensure that the support system is installed before sowing seeds as it is not easy to install support once the seedlings have appeared.


Planting times for Peas in South Africa


Shelling Peas:                                      March - Aug

Sugar Snap Peas:                                 March - Aug

Snow Pea/Mangetout:                                    March - Aug


Please note:  Planting times supplied are in a general South African sense and are based on typical South African Highveld conditions. Your particular area of South Africa might vary.


Sun exposure:

Full sun


Seed Planting and Germination

Pea seeds are best sown directly into the ground 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost.  Plant 2 seeds per hole 2-3cm deep and 5 - 8cm apart.

Peas germinate at between 4 and 19 degrees Celsius.  At lower temperatures germination will be poor and delayed.

Germination takes approximately 5 to 10 days.


Pea Plant Spacing

Shelling Peas:                          7 - 10cm                                             

Sugar Snap Peas:                     5 - 7cm

Snow Pea/Mangetout:                        5 - 7cm           

Space between rows:              40 - 45cm


Days to harvest

Shelling Peas:                          60 - 70 days                                        

Sugar Snap Peas:                     55 - 70 days    

Snow Pea/Mangetout:                        55 - 70 days    


  • Days to harvest is based on typical good growing conditions and can sometimes vary depending on climate, state of soil, and in some instances length of day and climate for the area in South Africa where you reside.
  • The specific plant might have characteristic/s that fall outside of the typical type norm.
  • Days to harvest are counted from germination or seedling transplant date whichever is the latest.



Shelling Peas should be harvested when peas have developed to a good plump size should they be for fresh consumption or as green peas.  For dried peas simply allow pods to dry until rattling on the vines at the end of the season.  Pick often to encourage plants to continue producing.

Sugar snap and snow/Mangetout peas should be picked mid development while peas are still small and underdeveloped.  Pick often to encourage vines to continue producing 


Click to view which Pea Seeds are available to you now