How to Plant Peas: Step-By-Step Instructions

Learn how to plant peas in your garden from seed. Peas are one of the earliest crops to go in the ground. They are also perfect for a beginning gardener to grow. In this article and video, I’m going to show you how to plant peas and discuss the different varieties and the pros and cons of each. So you can choose what you want to plant.

transcript below, edited for clarity

If you’d like more information on growing peas from planting all the way to harvest check out the How to Grow Peas article.

Planting Peas

I am going to be planting peas this morning. Peas are an early crop to go in the garden. I love planting peas because I’m always itching to get out in the garden in the early spring.

Early crops like peas give me something to do and I can resist planting my tomatoes and peppers until later when they’ll be safe.

Peas are cold hearty, so you can plant them like four to six weeks before your last frost, and they actually like the cold better. They won’t really germinate well if you wait until your soil is hot. So the soil needs to be cool. They can withstand a frost, so you don’t have to worry about that. So plant early.

Peas as a fall crop.

Peas make a really good fall crop because, again, they like the cool weather. So in the fall you can plant peas and get another fall harvest.

When you plant peas early, they’re done early. So a lot of times you can follow peas with another crop. Or you can wait during the hot part of the season, don’t do anything with peas, and then in the fall you can plant again. Plant about 6-8 weeks prior to your first fall freeze date.

Types of peas

So let’s talk about the different types of peas. My husband is one who always says, “Peas are such a labor-intensive crop.” And they are, because we like snap peas. Snap peas are the type of pea that you take out of the pod to eat. (you snap the pod open) You eat just the little round seed part.

There is also what they call snow peas. With snow peas, you pick them very early, you pick them in the pod, and you eat the whole pod. So they’re much less labor-intensive. You don’t have to open up the pods and take the seeds out.

I just don’t care for snow peas as well. I like snap peas and so that’s what we do. It’s a personal preference. Doesn’t really matter.

  • If you want less labor, go for the snow peas eating them in the pods.
  • If you don’t like the pods, then just realize that you’re going to have to open up those pods and take the peas out when you harvest.

Bush and Vining Peas

Another thing to consider when you’re planting peas is there are two varieties of plants. One will be a bush plant and one will be a vining plant.

If you plant a vining peas.

Vining peas are going to need some kind of a trellis. I have planted vining plants in the past and I just used some kind of stiff fencing, like a cattle panel. I don’t know if it needs to be as tall as a cattle panel, but something that it can grow up. Just any kind of a piece of fencing, maybe between two posts.

I’ve seen people make teepees out of sticks that the vines will grow up. It can be simple but they definitely need to be trellised because they’ll get long and then they’ll just fall over and they make a tangled mess.

If you are planting bush peas.

Bush peas, which is what I am planting this year, don’t need a trellis. It’s really personal preference as far as which one you choose. I like the trellising, but I’m just short on fencing this year and so I decided, okay, I’m just going to do bush peas. That way, I don’t have to worry about finding a trellis for my peas to grow up.

So when you are planting peas, whether you go for the bush, or the pod, or the snow, or trellising, or whatever, it doesn’t matter what type of peas, you want to plant your seeds about three inches apart, down the row. I like to do a double row, so it’ll be three inches apart and then I’ll have another row fairly close about six inches or so. And then it’ll be three inches apart, down that row. They grow up together then and it just makes you able to get more in a little compact area. 

Watering peas

In Colorado, where we had to water more, we had to irrigate more, I would have a trench between those rows where my water would go. So I’d put a hose at the end and the water would run down the row and I’d have peas growing on either side of that trench.

I’m not doing that here in Tennessee. This is an experiment. We’re going to get rain, and when there’s a dry spell, I can just water with a sprinkler or with a hose. And so I’m not trenching this year and it feels really weird.

Soaking Peas Before Planting.

Again, this is another personal preference thing, you can soak your peas before you actually plant them in the garden. They say that it will help them to germinate faster because they’ve already been soaking and they’re getting nice and hydrated. They’re just doing it in a jar of water before they’re actually going into the ground. The same hydration process has to happen, whether it’s in the ground or in a jar.

Soaking the peas is something I do. When you soak your peas, you’re just going to put them in water. I just use a little canning jar, I put them in there and I just soak them overnight. The day before I know I’m going to plant them, in the afternoon sometime, I put them in a jar with water. Then just drain that water out and plant your peas just like usual.

You don’t have to though. It’s certainly not required. It’s just an option and it’s something that I do usually do. But I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to just plant the peas dries. It’s not a big deal.

Don’t Overwater Your Peas

Keep in mind that peas are something you don’t want to overwater. And so I wouldn’t soak them more than just overnight. And if you know you’re going to be planting right before a long rainstorm where they’re going to be really wet for a while, then you might want to just plant them dry because peas are prone to getting too wet and if you get them too much water, then it’s not good for them.

My planting options

So it’s just an option. I know we’re going to have about a week of dry weather and so I went ahead and got these soaked so that they’ll germinate a little quicker and then have that time to get going before our rain that’s coming next week. Anyway, let me go over and I’ll go ahead and just start a row and I’ll show you exactly how to do it. It’s super simple.

If you’re a brand new gardener, peas are a really good place to start because they’re easy to do, you can get out in the early summer, and then you can even do it again in the fall if you’d like to.

How to Plant Peas Demonstration

So let me go over there and I’ll show you how I plant peas. All I’m going to do is take my peas, and I made a trench here. I just used a hoe, you can use whatever tool you want. Just try to make it nice and straight down my bed here. I’m just going to take my peas and place them about one to two inches apart.

Planting in double rows.

I clean up the row as I go. Make sure there are no rocks. Place the peas about one to two inches apart. And then I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to cover it with some dirt. (a inch or two) Now, my dirt’s clumpy here, so just going to make sure I crumble it as I go covering the peas with dirt. Then I’m going to go ahead and just go down and finish the entire row.

Then I will make another row about 6 inches over here and I will do the same thing. So my goal is to have my rows of peas is about, oh, I don’t know, six inches apart, a double row like that. And then I’ll have a space, and then if I have enough seeds, I’ll go ahead and do another double row over there.

All done!

Okay, so that’s it. I got my peas in the ground. I went ahead and watered them lightly just to get them started staying nice and damp. And now we just wait.

If you want to learn more about growing peas, I’ve got an article that I’ve written about how to plant them, how to grow them, how to harvest them, fertilizers that you might need, all of the different things.

So go ahead and check the How To Grow Peas growing guide.

You guys have a great summer and we’ll see you in the next video. Talk to you later. 

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  1. Thanks for the pea growing tips.I didn’t know a person could soak them the night before planting.

  2. Yes, it does help speed up the germinating process. It’s not required but I find it helpful.

  3. Normally I’d recommend using containers that are 5 gallon size or more. So compare your container to a 5 gallon bucket. But, peas are smaller plants so if you just plant a few you could get away with a little smaller.

  4. Hi Sharon! I think peas would be a fun crop for my grand daughter to grow. How many plants would you recommend planting? Do they produce a lot?

  5. It really depends on how much space you have and what will make this fun for her. How old is she? How much will you actually be doing for her? Will she be able to take ownership of most of it with a little guidance? If she can feel like it is ‘hers’ then that makes it fun. However… if she is young you should count on doing some of the work.

    If it is overwhelming and weedy and not successful then it is not so fun. Maybe just one seed package would do it. Peas are great because they can be eaten right off the vine. They have a nice bushy plant but they actually don’t produce a lot for the space they take. Which is fine with me. My kids always grazed in the garden which is why we never got enough harvest to really preserve it. Enough to graze, and eat, and some for supper.

    I think I just came up with a slogan for our gardens… Gardening should be FUN! Because it should. 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I want to to thank you for this great read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…

  7. Sharon, you are so generous with your time and information! Wow! I have followed you for canning advice with tomatoes for years and bought your book ‘Simply Canning.’ Now I’m starting my first vegetable gardens by myself and once again, you are there with valuable advice, easy to follow directions, videos and articles, and I am so grateful! My tomato sauce has always been successful and I’m sure this venture will too. Thank you so much!

  8. Oh Gosh! You made my day today! Thank you so much for taking the time to send this. 🙂

  9. Hi Sharon, thank you for the info on growing peas. My question is how do u know when they’re ready to pick? I know regular peas once the pod fills in nicely, but what about the ones that u eat the pod and all?

    Also I canned beef stew, I cooked the beef cubes & put raw carrots & potatoes in the jar. After pressure canning some of the liquid dissipated, approx quarter and in 1 jar almost half. Are they safe to eat? The jars did seal, However Ive never had that happen with any canning over the years and this was first time trying to can beef stew. I called our local extension office & the lady said she “thinks” it will be fine. However I wasn’t assured enough & naturally don’t want to take a chance.
    Thank you,

  10. It so nice to see a video that everyone can understand. I’m 72 years young. Ha ha. And I been growing pea for years and my dad always put his peas in a jar to soak so I do too. I will sent my family a copy of your article. Have a great day from an Alaskan.

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