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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Can I Plant Snap Peas From Seed?

Q. I have a small raised garden with good dirt. Can I plant snap peas, if so  when?  I bought a bag at the grocery store. I love them raw and opened  about 20 pods the peas. They were very small. Can I plant them and how deep? Do they grow in a bush or on a pole As you can tell I have  never  grown  any before.

A. No, I would not plant these peas. They are immature and will not grow but only rot. When seeds are collected from plants, the plant parts where the seeds are located must be mature. We harvest peas and beans in an immature stage. This is because they are tender at this stage.
Snow peas harvested at the immature stage for export to Europe by small-scale commercial farmers in Kenya.

There are vegetables such as tomatoes that we harvest fully mature and we can save seed from these fruits.

In the case of peas and beans, we would wait until the pods have fully matured and no longer tender if we want to save seeds for planting. At this stage the seeds have become hard. We see this stage in beans and peas in the store when we buy them bulk or plastic bags. We will buy kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans and sometimes peas this way. They have been dried so they do not mold or rot but they are fully alive, just sleeping and waiting for moisture and warm temperatures to germinate.
Snow peas under commercial production by small-scale farmers in Kenya

The only way to eat  beans when they are fully mature would be to soak and cook or boil them. Could you do this? Of course you could but conventionally we eat green beans and sugar snap peas when they are tender and immature. 
Snow peas at the perfect edible immature stage of development

Most commercial types of snap peas or sugar snaps are bush types since they are easier to harvest.  Purchase snap pea seeds for planting and harvest them when they are immature for fresh eating and allow some of them to remain on the plant for drying and proceed the next year. However, there can be problems when you save seed from varieties that are F1 hybrids. Unless you are willing to read up and study on how to save seed I would recommend buying the seed from a reliable source..

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