I have grown a food garden for four years now and somehow I missed the boat on sugar snap peas? Naively I have assumed sugar snap peas are the same as snow peas but not so! Sugar snap peas grow tender, sweet, edible pods and if you forget them on the vine they also grow tender, sweet, edible peas inside those tender, sweet, edible pods. The best of the edible pod snow pea and the classic shelling pea combined.
Aside from loving peas just because I love peas they are ridiculously easy to grow in my climate and factoring in all the edible pea plant by products it’s such a productive use of space. Sugar snap peas offer edible shoots, growing tips, leaves, flowers, pods and of course the peas themselves. This year I planted “Super Sugar Snap” from WCS. This is my first experience with growing sugar snaps, I am not sure how these compare to other varieties but I will say they were good producers and have a sweet crisp flavor.
The first thing to harvest with any pea variety is shoots. Sow totally over crowded rows, think about double the amount of pea seeds per row than you would normally do, as soon as the baby shoots pop up, snip or snap them off at ground level, harvest the new shoots to thin the sprouting over crowed peas back to a regular spacing. You can also pinch off the new growth/growing tips, use pea shoots and growing tips like alfalfa sprouts for fresh eating in sandwiches and salads. Pea shoots don’t cook up well they become fibrous and stringy, its kind of like trying to cook alfalfa sprouts just something better to be enjoyed raw.
Once your pea plants get growing(maybe around 12” tall) you’ll start seeing an abundance of leaves. I have not got this down to a science, I just nab new leaves here and there, handle pea leaves like spinach, sauté or use fresh. If you have an end of the season abundance of pea leaves, they work as a substitute in any split pea soup recipe. Pretty soon pea plants should start flowering, if you did an extra late sowing of peas and think hard frost will get them before they set pods, pea blossoms make a stunning salad or garnish for almost anything.
Harvest edible pea pods as soon as they appear or you can wait until sugar snaps fill with peas and enjoy the peas and the edible pods. When pea plants stop blooming or if they start getting Powderly mildew cut off all the growing tips for a salad and defoliate the entire vine of any healthy leaves. Powdery mildew tends to start at the bottom and shady side of the plants then work its way up, steer clear of that nastiness, save only the nice clean green leaves. Last year I harvested pea flowers and leaves right up until it started snowing.
Right now I am working on the last of the peas in my garden, I didn’t get around to a September plantings, there is still about a month left of pea/pea plant harvest season, I am missing out due to lack of planting, all that is left for me to do now is clean up the last few stragglers and take down the trellises and of course make plans for next year.