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green peas
Green peas grow on vines. See more pictures of vegetables.

There are more to green peas than most people know. Green peas include varieties with edible pods, such as snow peas. All varieties are sweet and delicious, and boast more protein than most vegetables. It's no wonder green peas are a part of many wonderful vegetable recipes. In this article, we'll talk about growing green peas, selecting and serving green peas, and the health benefits of green peas.

About Green Peas

Peas are hardy, weak-stemmed climbing annual vines. They have leaf-like stipules, leaves with one to three pairs of leaflets, and tendrils for climbing. The flowers are white, streaked, or colored. The fruit is a pod containing 4 to 10 seeds, either smooth or wrinkled depending on the variety.

Common Name: Green Peas
Scientific Name: Pisum sativum
Hardiness:
Very Hardy (may survive first frost)

In the next section, we'll show you how to grow green peas.

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Growing Green Peas


green peas
With their climbing vines, green peas are a lovely addition to your vegetable garden.

With green peas, it's true that good things come in small packages. In your garden, green peas are no small presence -- they grow in lovely climbing vines.

Unlike black-eyed peas, green peas are a cool-season crop that must mature before the weather gets hot. The ideal growing weather is moist with temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant peas as soon as the soil can be worked in spring: about six weeks before the average date of last frost. Peas need good drainage in soil that is high in organic material. They produce earlier in sandy soil, but yield a heavier, later crop if grown in clayey soil. Plant peas directly in the garden 2 inches deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Don't let the soil dry out; peas need ample moisture. Provide a three-foot-high trellis to support the vines.

Harvesting Green Peas

The time from planting to harvest is 55 to 80 days. Pick shelling peas when the pods are full and green, before the peas start to harden. Edible pod peas are grown the same way as sweet peas, but harvest the immature pods before the peas have developed to full size. Pods should be plump, but the individual peas should not be showing through the pod.

Types of Green Peas

Some varieties of green peas include pods that are edible and as delicious as the peas themselves.

We've listed the different varieties of green peas below.
  • Little Marvel, harvest at 63 days, has compact growth and produces dark green pods.
  • Wando, harvest at 68 days, is tolerant of heat.
  • Maestro, harvest at 61 days, is prolific, producing 9 to 12 peas per dark green pod.
  • Oregon Sugar Pod II, harvest at 68 days, produces a 41/2-inch edible snow pea.
  • Super Sugar Snap, harvest at 64 days, an All America Selection, is a 3-inch edible snap pea.
  • Snow Wind, harvest at 709 days, is a flat, edible pod variety that is disease resistant.
  • Paso, harvest at 55 days, is a 2-inch dwarf with high yields of baby shelling peas.
Learn how to select green peas in the next section.

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Selecting Green Peas

Green peas, like dried peas, are legumes, except they're eaten before they mature. Fresh green peas are only available in April and May. Choose firm, plump, bright-green pods.

Fresh snow peas, also known as Chinese pea pods, are increasingly available year-round. Look for small, shiny, flat pods; they're the sweetest and most tender. Avoid cracked, overly large, or limp pods.

green pea pods
Look for bright green color when selecting green peas.

Sugar snap peas are edible pods like snow peas, but sweet like green peas. Select plump, bright-green pods. Fresh peas don't keep long. Because their sugar quickly turns to starch, the sooner you eat them the more flavorful they'll be. When you can't get fresh peas, try frozen.

Preparation and Serving Tips

Wash peas just before shelling and cooking. To shell, pinch off the ends, pull down the string on the inside, and pop out the peas. Steam for a very short time: six to eight minutes. They'll retain their flavor and more vitamin C if they retain their bright green color.

Snow peas just need washing and trimming before cooking or eating raw. Sugar snap peas need the string removed from both sides. Snow peas are perfect in stir-fries; cook briefly, a minute or two. Try adding peas to pasta sauce or tuna casserole, or serving raw with a low-fat dip.

Keep reading to learn about the many health benefits of green peas.

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Health Benefits of Green Peas

When your mom told you to eat your peas, she knew what she was talking about. Peas flaunt twice the protein of most vegetables, so they're the ideal substitute for fattier protein fare, providing an excellent strategy for controlling your fat intake.

Green peas, like dried peas, are legumes, except they're eaten before they mature. As with all legumes, they're chock-full of nutrients and low in calories.

green pea pods
Green peas are low in calories but high in nutrients.
Health Benefits of Green Peas

Their fiber, mostly insoluble, aids intestinal motility and may help lower cholesterol. Of the myriad nutrients peas provide, iron is particularly important since it's hard to find non-animal foods with much of this blood-building nutrient.

Snow peas and other edible-podded peas don't contain the same amount of protein or nutrients green peas do. But they are rich in iron and vitamin C, which help maintain your immune system. Peas have lutein, the carotenoid with a proven record of helping to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Nutritional Values of Fresh and Cooked Green Peas
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Calories 67
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrate 13 g
Protein 4 g
Dietary Fiber
4 g
Sodium 2 mg
Vitamin A 641 IU
Vitamin C 11 mg
Thiamin <1 mg
Riboflavin <1 mg
Niacin 2 mg
Vitamin B6 <1 mg
Folic Acid: 51 micrograms
Copper <1 mg
Iron 1 mg
Magnesium:
31 mg
Manganese
<1 mg
Potassium:
217 mg
Carotenoids
2,468 micrograms

Want more information about green peas? Try:
  • Vegetable Recipes: Find delicious recipes that feature of green peas.
  • Nutrition: Find out how of green peas fits in with your overall nutrition plans.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.