Garden shelling peas are an annual vegetable than grow on a vine. These peas go by peas, shelling peas, English peas, and garden peas. The edible green pod fruit are contained in a slightly curved pod of the same color. Unlike its relatives the snow pea or snap pea, garden peas need to be shelled before eating as the outside pod is too fibrous.

Peas are a cool season vegetable and can handle colder temperatures well. They are usually planted before the last frost of the season for the first crop of the year. Shelling peas can be vining (attaching themselves to a support by the tendrils that extend from the vine) or low-growing, dwarf varieties that don’t need extra support.

Shelling Pea Cultivars

  • Penelope – long 4.5 inch pods with 8-9 peas per pod, high yield. 59 days to maturity. 34″ vine length.
  • Sienna – 3.5 inch pods with 7-8 peas per pod. 55 days to maturity. 28″ vine length.
  • Maxigolt – 4 inch pods with 7-8 peas per pod. 62 days to maturity. 40-60″ vine length.
  • Dual – very long pods with 10-14 pods per pod. 66 days to maturity. 30″ vine length.

Growing Peas and Harvesting Shelling Peas

Plant peas when the weather is warm enough in your area to be worked, but about 6 weeks before the last frost. They prefer the cooler temperatures, below 70 degrees F. Sow the seeds directly in soil with good drainage. Once planted, do not over water the seeds or keep them waterlogged. As the plant grows and produces the pea pods, regularly pick to encourage growth. Shelling peas can be picked easily from the vine.

Once picked, they should be shelled and cooked quickly (same day, right after picking and shelling preferably) as the sugars in these peas turn to starch after picking. Shelling peas are sweetest when fresh.

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Image of English shelling peas by whitneyinchicago via Creative Commons 2.0 license.

Renee brings garden cultivation and cooking together, sharing information on gardening through garden blog updates, and following the process from growing the seed or start up plant - to plating the dish with the harvests. If you have a garden question, send Renee a note via the contact page.