When to Pick Sugar Snap Peas?
The sugar snap pea is a relatively recent innovation. It is a hybrid between the traditional English garden pea and the tasty snow pea. While both parents have been around for thousands of years, the sugar snap pea was only debuted in the late 1960's. It combines the sweet edible pod of a snowpea with the storage-worthy seeds of an English pea.
Two Ways To Harvest
When you plan on picking your snap peas depends on what you want to do with them. There are three main objectives when harvesting snap peas:
- Fresh Young Pods
- Shelling Peas
- Seed Saving
To eat them pod and all, pick anytime. As soon as the pods appear on the plant they are ripe for the picking and eating. You can even pick immature snap peas to freeze for later use.
Another option is to wait for the snap peas to develop fat pea seeds inside. These can then be shelled like an English pea and frozen or dried. These are the choice pea for split pea soup, and it’s worth letting at least a few plants mature.
Pick snap peas for shelling when the pods have rounded out and appear plump. If left too long they may start to dry and turn brown, this is not desirable. Use the suggested ‘days to harvest’ as a guide for when they will be mature.
How to Pick Peas
The most important thing to remember when picking peas, mature or not, is to use two hands. Use one to stabilize the plant while using the other to pinch off a pea. Tugging on the pods and plants can damage the delicate tendrils that hold the plant fast to it’s growing surface. It can also rip off nodes that will potentially produce more flower and peas.
Picking encourages more growth. Don’t hesitate to pick your peas, they are never inedible until they are over-mature. There’s no risk to picking some snap peas young and then allowing the plant to grow more for shelling. If you don’t pick them, the plant will stop producing and begin to dry out.
Toward the end of the pea season in early summer, assess the health of your plants. You should have picked a few rounds by now and the plants are slowing in their production. Choose a couple of the healthiest plants to let over-mature. Why the healthiest? Because these represent genetics that obviously do well in your garden.
You can let the pea pods dry out right on the vine given that it isn’t an overly wet season. It wetter climates, mold can become an issue on dying pea plants so you may want to bring in whole plants at maturity and hang them to dry.
Pods will turn brown and hard. When you crack them open the seeds should be green or yellow, dry and hard, and snow no signs of mold. These are next years pea seeds!