Little marvel pea plant

All about Peas

Can I Grow Peas?

Once planted, peas need little attention other than watering and harvesting. Pests and diseases are rarely a problem, particularly if disease-resistant varieties are planted. Just keep an eye out for aphids on the pea plants and get rid of them with a sharp spray of water from the garden hose.

How to Grow Green Peas

Green Peas thrive in cool weather and young plants will tolerate light frosts. Once germinated, green peas adapt well to the cold, damp climate of early spring. Peas must be planted as early as possible in the spring to get a full harvest before hot summer temperatures arrive and put an end to production. In temperate zones, the saying “Plant peas by St. Patrick’s Day” holds true. Otherwise, plant peas about a month prior to your frost-free date.

For a fall crop, you’ll have to nurse the seedlings through late-summer heat with shade and diligent watering until cool weather arrives.

The ‘days to maturity’ listed on the seed packets are calculated from the date of direct seeding, but soil temperature determines how long it takes for pea seeds to germinate.
For example, if the soil is 40 degrees F., pea seeds may take more than a month to sprout, while at 60 degrees F. or above, they take about a week. So, the days to maturity can be misleading. Use the information only as a guide for determining early, mid-season, and late varieties.

Pea Plant History

The green pea is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. Although its origin is obscured in history, peas were found in excavations in Switzerland dating to the Bronze Age and in an Egyptian tomb at Thebes. Peas were popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. In fact, the word ‘peas’ is a derivation of the Latin ‘pisum.’ The Anglo-Saxon word for peas was ‘pise’ or ‘pease’ as in the nursery rhyme, ‘pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold.’

Peas were originally grown for their dry seeds, in fact, for centuries people thought ‘green’ peas were poisonous! Fresh-shelled green peas are not mentioned in history until after the Norman Conquest of England. By the end of the 16th century, peas were being perfected in Germany, Belgium, and England.

Should I Plant Pea Seeds Or Plants?

Although peas can be started indoors in peat pots for transplanting, they really don’t make the transition well. Disturbing the young roots can diminish yields later in the season. If this is the only way to get an early start, go for it. Otherwise, sow the seeds directly in the soil about a month before the expected last frost in your area.
Plant early, mid-season, and late varieties to get maximum pea production. In the spring, instead of planting different varieties at weekly intervals, plant peas all at once. They’ll mature at different times, staggering the harvest.

The following varieties are recommended:


  • Burpeeana Early
  • Maestro
  • Sugar Bon
  • Thomas Laxton


  • Mammoth Melting Sugar
  • Oregon Sugar Pod II


  • Wando
  • Alderman

Fall pea crops are finicky and many gardeners end up with mixed results. But, for the reward of an extra crop, the minimal effort and expense is well worth the gamble. The trick is to finish the harvest before a hard frost. To determine when to sow your fall crop, check the days to maturity for the pea varieties chosen and count backward from the expected first frost date. Outstanding winter pea crops can often be grown in Zones 9-11.

How to Direct Sow Peas

How To Culivate Pea Plants

Here are three cultivation tips to keep in mind.

Sow Peas Thickly

Preferably in wide rows. Peas grown close together shade out weeds, keep the soil cool, increase yields, and make the most efficient use of garden space. Simply broadcast the seed in the row, allowing the seeds to fall as they may, some even touching. Cover with an inch of soil in the spring; two inches in the summer for your fall crop. Don’t thin the pea plants when they germinate.

Don’t Overfertilize

Peas are light feeders and don’t generally require fertilizer. In fact, too much nitrogen will make the plants develop lush foliage at the expense of pod production and be more susceptible to frost damage.


Water deeply once a week. Never allow the soil to dry out totally or you’ll drastically reduce pea production. The critical time for watering is when the plants are blossoming and producing pods. When pods are maturing in hot weather, water daily if needed to maintain pod quality.

Pea Growing Tips

To improve overall green pea production, consider using the following techniques.

Raised Beds

To get peas in the ground and germinating as early as possible in the spring, plant them in raised beds. The raised beds warm up faster than the surrounding ground.


All peas, even the dwarf varieties, grow best with support. Peas are productive and less susceptible to rot if given some support or, for taller varieties, planted along a fence or trellis. Interlace untreated twine between posts to act as a trellis. At the end of the season, just cut down the twine, pea vines and all, and toss on the compost pile. Use ‘pea brush’ broken tree branches shoved into the soil of the pea bed to provide support for the ‘bush’ types like ‘Maestro’ and ‘Wando’.

Legume inoculant

Like other members of the legume family, peas have a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria that colonize the roots of the plants and help them ‘fix’ nitrogen in the soil. After soaking the seeds overnight in lukewarm water, drain them and sprinkle an inoculant over them just before planting. This will boost the pea plants and produce higher yields.


Because peas’ feeder roots run shallow, mulch is essential to keep the soil around the roots moist and cool. When the seedlings are two inches tall, apply a mulch of clean straw, chopped leaves, or compost. As the pea plants mature, you can add more mulch to keep them happy.


Pea Plant Insects & Diseases

Aphids are the major pests for pea plants; luckily, they are easily controlled. Simply spray the plants with cold water to knock the bugs to the ground. If a heavy infestation occurs, resort to an insecticidal soap spray, rotenone, or pyrethrum. Aphids can spread mosaic virus if you haven’t planted disease-resistant pea varieties, so be sure to get them under control as soon as you notice them.

Powdery mildew is the most common disease of green peas, usually striking as the weather warms. Other diseases that cause problems are pea enation mosaic virus, fusarium wilt, pea leaf roll virus, and root rot.

There are two key ways to keep pea diseases at bay:

Plant disease-resistant pea varieties, especially if any particular diseases are a problem in your area. For example, pea enation is common in the Pacific Northwest. Ask veteran gardeners in your neighborhood or the Local County Extension agent for suggestions on what varieties to select.

Pea Harvesting Tips

To determine when to pick shell peas, check the pods by eye and feel. If the pod is round, has a nice sheen, and is bright green, it’s ready. If the seeds have made ridges on the pod and the pod is a dull green, it’s past its prime. You can pick snap and snow snap peas at any time, but they’re tastiest when the pods still have some play around the peas when you squeeze the pods. Pick snow peas before the peas start to enlarge in the pods.

Here are a two things to remember as you enter the pea patch with basket in hand:

Pick pods carefully

Pea stems snap easily and the root systems aren’t very deep. If not careful, you can damage the plant or even pull it out of the soil. Use both hands – one to hold the vine and the other to pinch off the pods.

Frequent harvesting increases yields

Pea Recipes & Storage

Peas are best when cooked very quickly, with as little water as possible, to retain their sugars and flavors. Do not boil them as sugars will dissolve and flavor will be lost. Steaming until just tender is the trick or stir-fry briefly.

If the harvest exceeds the appetite, there are basically two ways to store peas.


Although peas freeze well, they lose texture. Freeze them immediately after harvest to retain their rich flavor. Blanch the peas for two minutes in boiling water, immediately drain and plunge into ice water for two minutes. Drain again, loosely pack the peas in plastic bags or containers, and pop them into the freezer. Use the peas within nine months for the best quality.


Peas can be dried in a dehydrator and stored in sealed canisters for use in the winter in soups and stews. The quality is not on a par with frozen or fresh peas; however, as dried peas tend to be starchy and grainy in texture.

How to grow peas

In fact, you can even grow them in containers on the patio for a really space-saving crop. Follow our guide on how to grow garden peas to enjoy the taste of your own home grown crop.

Different types of peas

Don’t be fooled into thinking that all peas are the same. There are shelling peas, edible-podded peas and even purple-podded peas.

Shelling Peas- As the name suggests, shelling peas are grown for the peas inside the pods. Once shelled, the pods are discarded.These fall into two main types, early and maincrop. Early varieties such as Pea ‘Misty’ and the ever popular Pea ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ can be harvested just 12 weeks from sowing. Maincrops such as Pea ‘Oasis’ take 15 weeks to crop. Shelling peas are often divided into ‘wrinkle seeded’, which tend to be sweeter, and ‘smooth-seeded’ types which are often hardier varieties.

Edible-Podded Peas – Mange Tout and Sugar Snap Peas are both edible-podded types that are harvested at different stages of maturity. Flat-podded Mange Tout is harvested while young, whereas round-podded Sugar Snap Peas are harvested when they are semi-mature. There are plenty of varieties to choose from including the very pretty Pea ‘Shiraz’ – the first purple-podded Mange Tout!

Where to grow peas

Choose an open, weed-free site in full sun. Grow peas in a moist, fertile, well drained soil. Try to dig plenty of well rotted compost into the soil several weeks before sowing to improve soil fertility and help retain moisture. It’s best to avoid sowing peas on cold, wet soils as they tend to rot away.If space is at a premium then try growing peas in containers or patio bags. Choose a compact, bushy variety like Pea ‘Bingo’.

When to grow peas

Peas are a cool season crop, enjoying temperatures of 13 -18C (55-64F) so they are well suited to the UK climate. Peas can be direct sown outdoors from March to June once the soil has warmed to about 10C (50F). Using cloches will help the earliest crops to germinate.

In mild areas, some hardy, early maturing cultivars can be sown in late autumn for overwintering and producing particularly early crops. However, mice are quite partial to overwintered pea seeds so keep an eye out for hungry rodents. For a continuous crop of home grown peas it’s a good idea to sow a new batch of peas every 10-14 days. Alternatively, try growing different early and maincrop varieties that will mature at different times throughout the growing season.

How to sow peas

Protect seed – Birds love to steal pea seed so cover trenches with chicken wire or netting after sowing. This can removed once the seeds have germinated.

Provide supports – Peas produce tendrils to help them climb upwards. Erect wire netting, or push upright twiggy sticks into the ground along the length of each trench to provide your peas with supports to cling to.

Water regularly- Once pea plants start to flower it’s best to water thoroughly once a week to encourage good pod development. You can reduce water loss by applying a thick mulch of well rotted manure or compost to lock moisture into the soil.

Don’t over-feed – Don’t feed peas with nitrogen rich fertilisers as can cause lots of leafy growth instead of producing pea pods. In most cases peas won’t require any extra feed, especially if you added plenty of organic matter to the soil before sowing.

Watch the video below to find out more about how to grow Peas:

Harvesting peas

Peas should be harvested regularly to encourage more pods to be produced. The pods at the bottom of each plant will mature first so begin harvesting from low down and work your way up as the pods mature. All peas can be frozen but they are sweetest and tastiest when eaten freshly picked from the garden.

Early varieties can be harvested 11-12 weeks from sowing while maincrop varieties need 13 -15 weeks to mature.

Mange Tout is best harvested young while the pods are still flat, and before the peas inside begin to swell.

Sugar Snap peas are best harvested when semi-mature, as the peas inside each pod begin to swell.

Fix Nitrogen for next years crops

Peas are legumes, which take in nitrogen from the air and ‘fix’ (store) it in small nodules along their roots. When growing garden peas, don’t be tempted to pull the plants up from the roots at the end of the season. The leaves and stems can be cut off at ground level and added to the compost heap, before digging the roots into the ground. As the roots break down, they release nitrogen into the soil. The nitrogen is then free to be taken up by next year’s crop in a normal rotation system – try growing brassicas in this spot next year!

Little Marvel Pea Plants: Tips For Growing Little Marvel Peas

If you want an heirloom pea, try growing Little Marvel peas. What are Little Marvel peas? This variety has been around since 1908 and provided gardeners with generations of sweet, vigorous peas. Little Marvel pea plants are a shelling variety with big yields but small plants, perfect for small gardens.

What are Little Marvel Peas?

Small space gardeners rejoice. There is a semi-dwarf pea plant that produces copious peas on diminutive plants. If you thought there was no way you could grow your own shelling peas, Little Marvel pea plants will prove you wrong. Best of all, the peas stay sweet and tender even when fully ripe.

The variety of pea ‘Little Marvel’ is a compact plant that will produce a lot of tasty peas. Little Marvel garden pea was introduced in the early 1900s by Sutton and Sons of Reading, England. It is a cross of ‘Chelsea Gem’ and ‘Sutton’s A-1.’

This hardy plant grows 30

inches (76 cm.) tall and produces 3-inch (7.6 cm.) long pods. The pea Little Marvel does not need staking and grows in USDA zones 3 to 9. Start them as soon as the ground is workable and you will be enjoying peas in 60 days.

Growing Little Marvel Peas

Little Marvel Garden pea should be planted in well drained, sandy loam with a pH of 5.5 to 6.7. Start seed 6 to 8 weeks before your expected last date of frost. Plant seeds 1.5 inches (3.8 cm.) deep and 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm.) apart in full sun. Expect germination in 7 to 10 days or quicker if you soak seed in water for 24 hours prior to planting.

Peas don’t love to be transplanted but can be started in a cold frame in cooler climates. Little Marvel is small enough and produces well in a container, too. You can also plant seeds in mid-summer for a fall crop, but don’t expect yields to be as high as plants started in spring.

Peas need average amounts of moisture but should not be allowed to dry out. They can get powdery mildew with overhead watering in warm weather, but drip irrigation can prevent this. If you prepared your soil with plenty of organic matter, the plants do not need fertilizing. In fact, peas actually improve soil by harvesting nitrogen and fixing it in the soil.

Harvest peas when the pods are plump. With many peas, you need to be on the harvest frequently to get the best pods before they are too old. Little Marvel holds better on the plant so harvest time isn’t as crucial. Expect bowls full of sugary sweet peas.

Little Marvel Pea Seeds (English Type) 1985


Little Marvel Pea Seeds (English Type) 1985 Heirloom Vegetable. Little Marvel originated in England at the turn of the 20th century and was a 1934 All America Selections winner. This exquisitely sweet old favourite deserves a place in every home garden. Dwarf vines 45 cm (18″) high produce deep green, nearly round pods 7.5 cm (3″) long that are tightly packed with 7-8 very tender and very sweet peas. A good freezing variety – that is if you don’t eat them all straight from the garden!

How to Grow

1-3 seed/gram. Peas are a cool weather crop and can be sown from early April through to mid- May when the soil temperature is between 10-16 C (50-60 F). Fall crops are possible in hardiness zones 6 & 7. Sow in double rows spaced 25 cm (10″) with the seed 6.5 cm (2.5″) apart within the row and 1.25-2.5 cm (1/2-1″) deep. Space each set of double rows 75 cm (2.5′) apart. Peas can also be sown in blocks 120 cm (48″) square with the seeds spaced 6.5 cm (2.5″) apart within the block. Sow successive crops 10-14 days apart for extended harvests. Keep the soil evenly moist during the germination period or emergence will be spotty. You can stake or support row planted bush varieties for easier picking – climbing varieties definitely need to be supported. Avoid the use of high nitrogen fertilizers. Once flowering starts, it is important to keep the plants well watered to produce a good harvest. As the pods mature, pick daily to enjoy their peak flavour and to encourage more pods to form. Careful cultivation between rows is recommended to increase harvest yield. Removing clover and other non-crop legumes from the vicinity of the pea crop will reduce pest problems.

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