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How and When to Harvest Peas in Australia

Once your pea plants are growing successfully, you’ll want to know how and when to harvest them.

Peas are surprisingly easy to grow around Australia and there are plenty of different varieties to choose from. You can either grow climbing peas or dwarf varieties.

Then, there are varieties that are grown for their juicy pods as well, such as snow peas and sugar snap peas. These can be eaten fresh or put into quick and easy stir-fries. 

These types of peas are my favourite because they don’t need shelling and if you harvest them almost daily, you’ll have a constant supply for many months.

In warmer parts of the country, peas should be grown during the cooler months but down south, you can plant peas in early spring once the danger of frost is over.

Remember to plant the seeds straight into the ground because peas really don’t like being transplanted from seedlings.

Once your pea plants are growing successfully, you’ll want to know how and when to harvest them. In this guide, I’m going to explain this in more detail.

When are peas ready to harvest?

Harvesting time will depend on which variety you’re growing. Whole pod peas such as sugar snap and snow peas should be ready to harvest in around 8 weeks from when the seeds were planted.

There are really no hard and fast rules here. Once the pods are large enough, you can pick them. But, just don’t wait too long.

The pods of snow peas should still be flat and nice and tender. Make sure that you harvest them before they start filling out.

pea harvesting | Fruit & Vegetables

Sugar snap peas can also be picked once the pods are large enough. But, these will generally have started to fill out a little. You can wait for them to get plump but constant harvesting is important if you want a continuous supply.

On the other hand, shelling peas need to be left to mature. Pick these once the pods are nice and plump so that the peas inside the pods are of a good size.

I can’t stress enough the need to harvest your peas as frequently as you can. When peas are harvested every 2 or 3 days, the plant will continue to produce more peas.

However, if you leave the pods on the plants for too long, the plants will think that they’ve completed their life cycle and stop producing new flowers and pods.

How to harvest your peas

The best way to harvest your peas is to just snip them off the vine with a pair of kitchen scissors. This stops you from causing possible damage to the vines if you just pull them off.

pea harvesting 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

However, if you’re in a hurry, you can gently pull them from the vine. I’ve done this myself, but I always support the vine with one hand and then gently pull the pods off with the other one.

How long will pea plants continue to crop?

Once again, this will depend on the variety that you’re growing. You’ll find that varieties such as snow peas and sugar snap peas will continue to produce new pods for up to 6 weeks.

On the other hand, shelling peas may only continue to produce new pods for around 3 weeks. This is because the pods are left on the plant longer in order for the peas (seeds) inside the pods to develop.

pea harvesting 3 | Fruit & Vegetables

Once seed development happens, it signals to the plant that its life cycle is now complete and it can stop fruiting.

If you want a continuous supply of peas during the growing season, it’s a good idea to plant successive seeds around 2 to 3 weeks apart. 

This means that once the first crop of plants have finished producing, you’ll have new plants coming along that are already starting to produce a crop of fresh, tender peas for you to enjoy.

Do this instead of pulling out plants that have finished cropping

What you may not know is that peas are regarded as legumes. This means that they have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air into the soil.

You can take advantage of this by cutting the plants back to ground level and leaving the roots in the soil. Then, cut up the leaves and stems of the plants and use them as mulch.

The leafy crops that you plant after growing peas will benefit from all that extra nitrogen in the soil.

 FAQ

Should peas be eaten right after being picked?

Peas taste the best if they’re eaten right after being picked from the vine. This is because the sugars present in the peas will start to turn into starch once they’re removed from the plants. However, storing them in the fridge for two or three days in an airtight container or plastic bag will preserve their freshness.

How do you pick peas so they keep growing?

If you want a continuous harvest of lovely fresh peas, you should pick the pods as often as you can. Every two to three days is ideal. This will encourage the plants to produce many more new pods.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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