The warmer weather we’ve had here along the Wasatch front lately has a lot of gardeners ready to get outside. Planting peas can be a great way to scratch the gardening itch you have during this pre-spring season!  Peas not only tolerate the cooler weather, but are delicious and “a valuable source of protein, iron and fiber.” They also are a nitrogen-fixing legume and   certain varieties can help increase nitrogen levels in your soil.
This table lists a few varieties that have performed well in Utah.
Pea Types Selected Varieties
Garden Pea Dual, Early Frosty, Green Arrow, Lincoln, Little Marvel, Perfection Dark Seeded, Sparkle, Waldo
Snap/Snow Pea Dwarf Grey Sugar, Oregon Sugar Pod, Snowflake, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Sprint, Super SugarSnap
Dry Pea Most garden pea varieties can be grown for dry seed production.
The table above and information below came from Utah State University Extension’s fact sheet “Peas in the Garden” by Dan Drost, Vegetable production specialist.
Soil: Peas will grow in all soil types that are rich in organic matter, well drained, and fertile.
Plants: Peas are cool weather, frost tolerant vegetables that require soil and air temperatures to remain below 80ºF for best germination and plant growth. Start planting peas as soon as you can till the soil in the spring. Seedling will emerge in 7-10 days when planted in soil of 55-65ºF. Peas do poorly when temperatures exceed 80ºF.
Planting and Spacing: To plant 100 feet of row, you will need about 2-3 ounces of seed. Extra seed can be stored and used the next year. Plant seeds 1 inch deep, spaced 1-2 inches apart, in rows 12-24 inches apart. No thinning is necessary if plant stands are too thick. Plant garden and dry peas every 14-21 days until April 1 in warm regions and May 1 in cooler regions. Peas require 60-70 days to mature depending on variety. Snap peas generally produce pods over a longer time period so only one planting is necessary.  Garden peas can be planted again around mid-August in Northern Utah and mid-September in warm areas of Southern Utah for fall production. Mulching the crop during the summer will improve soil water loss and increase nutrient availability. Yields of fall grown peas are not as good as the spring sown plantings.
Support: Most pea varieties are self-supporting during growth. Taller pea varieties are more productive and easier to harvest if caged, trellised, or fenced. Wooden poles, wire cages, or other fencing materials make ideal supports for peas. Snap and snow peas climb naturally so little additional work is required other than constructing the supports.
Water: Peas require regular watering throughout growth for best production. Soils should be allowed to dry until half of the available water is used before returning the soil to field capacity. Do not overwater as wet soil promotes root rot diseases and slows plant growth. Water needs are most critical after flowering. Drought stress will decrease yield due to pod abortion and reduce seed size, increase pod stringiness, and alter seed quality. Watering amounts depend on soil type and organic matter content.
For even more information on peas