If you planted peas in the spring, you should be picking them right now. Peas have been cultivated for thousands of years, and they are a staple of the cuisine of many countries. In the past, peas were mostly grown for their dried seeds but by the 17th and 18th centuries it became fashionable to eat green peas. The English and the French were particularly fond of peas and new cultivars were developed in both countries -- and brought to the New World. Thomas Jefferson was said to have more than 30 varieties of green peas growing in his gardens.
The most popular varieties grown today are shelling peas, snow peas and sugar or snap peas. Peas are cool weather vegetables and take about 60 days to mature. As soon as the pods start developing, they mature quickly, so make sure you check your plants often and pick frequently for bigger crops. As temperatures rise, the plants start to die off.
You can try growing a second crop of peas in the fall but your success will depend on the weather and your timing. Pea plants die with the first frost, which in our area is approximately Oct. 1, which means you need to plant your seeds around the end of July, when it's usually hot. You'll have better luck if you sow your seeds in a spot out of direct sunlight or the soil may be too warm for the seeds to germinate.
I steam my peas and serve them with a simple dressing of chopped mint and olive oil. I'd love to hear how you prepare your peas. Let me know below.
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