Sugar snap peas are plump little pods that grow like normal peas from a vine. Each pod contains round peas but unlike other peas, the whole sugar snap pod is eaten. They are deliciously sweet can be eaten as soon as they are picked.
The vines that the sugar snap peas grow on climb up trellises or climbing frames so that the whole plant can get the sunshine but but this can mean that they are more likely to be damaged by wind so choose a spot that is protected.
Sugar snap peas are one of the best crops for beginners because they are so adaptable and will grow in most soils so long as fertiliser and compost have been added.
It’s best to build the trellis or climbing support first before preparing the soil because as you work, your feet will squash down the soil.
After the support is built, dig the soil over lightly, adding in some compost or organic matter. If the soil is very sandy, add in even more compost to make it rich and well drained.
Use a dibbler or large stick to make holes about 20cm apart close to the base of the trellis. Gently place a seedling in each hole and push the soil around the rootball. Water the seedlings and the soil.
Sugar snap peas can also be grown in a large barrel. Fill it with premium potting mix then built a climbing teepee that sits in the soil within the barrel and then plant the seedlings at the base of it. Water them well and make sure they get plenty of sunlight.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
As the vines grow they will sound out tendrils which work like fingers to hold onto the trellis or climbing frame but if the vine heads off in the wrong direction, carefully encourage it up the frame and if necessary, use pieces of stocking to tie it on.
Peas will do best if side dressings of granular fertiliser or liquid fertiliser are applied regularly as they grow. If the leaves begin to turn yellow, this is a sign that they need more food. Keep the soil moist and apply a layer of mulch.
Start harvesting the peas as soon as they are about 4cm long and quite plump. They will need to be harvested every few days because they will grow quickly and the more that are picked, the more that will grow. Simply pull the beans off with your fingers and either pop them straight into your mouth or a basket.
HOW TO EAT
Sugar snap peas are best if they are picked and eaten on the same day though they will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Before serving sugar snaps, simply trim off the end pieces and give them a wash. Sugar snap peas can be eaten raw and mixed through salads or served for digging into dips. They can also be thrown into stir fries or blanched quickly and served as a vegetable. They really are deliciously sweet. Find some great recipes in the Smarty Plants Kitchen.
HOW THEY GROW
Sugar snap peas grow on a vine that climbs up a fence or trellis. The vine grows quickly, wrapping tendrils around the trellis as it climbs higher. Small white flowers form on the vine and when these are pollinated, the pea pods begin to form. Eventually the flowers drop off and the peas are soon mature enough to harvest.
Botanical Name: Pisum sativum
Life Cycle: Annual
When to Grow: Autumn, winter and early spring.
Height/Width: 150cm x 30cm.
Requirements: Plant in full sun and build the vines a climbing frame. Fertilise when the flowers are forming and water regularly.
Nutritional Benefits: Peas are one of the best sources of dietary fibre and are an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, zinc and potassium.