What to Grow With Peas
Growing Peas From Seed
Growing peas form seed is very easy, and if you know what to grow with peas to help them along or compliment them as they grow, you will enjoy these healthy garden favorites even more.
Peas are very simple to start from seed, since they are large and easy to handle. They are simply dropped into a row and covered, but there is something that you should add. Consider adding a pea inoculant to the soil to help them along. Specifically, this helps the bacteria already present in the soil do their job better. This is especially true in cool soil, which is often a factor when peas are planted in spring. The addition of pea inoculant tends to result in healthier plants that start stronger and that have higher yields.
Another very effective practice that will improve germination greatly is to soak the seeds overnight before planting. Depending on the soil and weather, this can easily double the germination rate of your peas, so if you've had bad luck in the past with planting peas from seed, a water bath may make the difference.
Peas are a cool-season crop and should be started early, even as many as four weeks ahead of the last expected spring frost. This will allow them to grow strong before days get too hot, which is a good thing, since peas do not care for a hot sunny days. Another crop can be planted after mid-summer for a fall harvest, though hot late summer days can negatively impact young peas plants. Still, it's worth a shot.
Companion Plants for Peas
Some plants help other plants by either sharing their garden needs or by actually improving the performance or taste of another plant. This is true for peas as well, and there are companions that can be located next to peas with confidence that it will not hurt performance of the peas, but actually help them.
Beans, as the other main legume in the garden, are a companion for peas and can be planted next to them. Beans and peas both leave nitrogen behind in the garden soil and should be high on your list of garden vegetables to rotate around the garden. In particular, planting nitrogen loving plants like peppers and tomatoes where peas or beans were the year before is a good idea.
Corn is a great companion plant for peas as they help each other. The corn offers some shade as summer rolls in, and the peas give a bit of nitrogen to the corn as it grows.
Certain root crops go very well with peas. Radishes are a fine choice since they will be harvested before peas get too big. Carrots work well since they will take over the space once the peas are all done and use the nitrogen left behind by the peas. Turnips are also a fine choice.
Lettuce or spinach will also do fine, maturing ahead of the time where the pea vines get too big.
Growing hot-weather plants that can fill the space later is also a great way to go. Peppers and tomatoes do nicely in this way, as they are still pretty small when the pea harvest is taking place, but become large and fill the space later once the pea plants have been removed. Like others, peppers and tomatoes will grab the extra nitrogen in the soil to produce fruit.
Vegetables to Keep Away From Peas
Just as there are companion plants for peas that help them along, there are plants to avoid with peas nearby. These vegetables tend to make peas taste a bit off.
It's best to keep onions, garlic, chives, leeks and fennel away from your snap peas. If it's anything like an onion, it probably falls into this list.
Insects That Attack Peas
There are many more insects that will impact pea growth than can be discussed, but some are more common than others. Here is how to deal with the common pests.
Aphids tend to attack peas since they seem to thrive in cool, dry weather, when few predators are around the garden yet. It is common for other insects to control the aphid population nicely in summer, but in late spring when peas are near their prime, aphids may be strong. Aphids are easy enough to see and will be present on the plant. The best control method is a diluted soapy water or insecticidal soap or, better yet, just a strong rinse with water, but some plants may also offer relief. In particular, plants that attract ladybugs may help. The two easiest to find and grow are marigold and alyssum. Include pockets of these pretty flowers and you are open for ladybug business.
Other common pests include cutworms, thrips, leaf miners, and spider mites. There is more advice on controlling these pests that could ever be re-written, but here are some keys to keeping them from ruining your pea harvest.
- Till the soil deeply before planting
- Soak seeds so they germinate quickly
- Keep weeds away to improve air circulation
- Water low to the ground and avoid soaking the leaves
- Don't use pesticides that kill the good bugs
- Remove the dead plants after the harvest
Growing Garden Peas
These are some quick and effective things to grow with peas. You've most likely heard that peas and carrots are a perfect match. That's true not only on the dinner table, but in the garden. Try to do a bit of companion planting for peas this year and get more healthy vegetables from the same garden space.