Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Pea

Pisum sativum var. saccharatum
Fabaceae Or Leguminosae


Origin

Peas are among the oldest cultivated plants. Carbonized seed remains have been identified as being 7,000 to 9,000 years old. The edible pod forms are thought to be of recent development. The Middle East and Mediterranean Basin are possible area of origin.

Uses

Snow Pea plants produce large (up to 4 inches long) tasty pods with immature seeds, meant for human consumption. Spent vines may be plowed under to improve soil tilth.

Cultivation

Snow Pea plants will perform best when planted as a cool weather plant, in well drained soil and may be injured by water-logging. They should be planted in rows about 75 cm (30 in) apart, with a trellis where possible. Plant 3 cm - 8 cm (1 in - 3 in) deep, after frosts. In the tropics, plants will survive above 1,000 m (3,000 ft) elevation. Optimum ambient temperatures are 13-18C (54- 65F).

Harvesting and Seed Production

Harvest when pods are well filled but seeds are still soft and immature. Later harvesting will yield tough pods and “starchy”, not sugary seeds. Plan to pick 60 to 75 days after germination. To hold for a week or so, keep them at 32F (0C) and at high humidity (90%). To save seeds for planting, allow pods to fill and turn yellow and brittle. Harvest and dry seeds in the shade until moisture is reduced to 13% then store in cool dry place until needed for planting.

Pests and Diseases

In warmer climates, principal problems will be downy mildew, fusarium wilt, powdery mildew and perhaps viruses which appear to be spread by aphids.

Cooking and Nutrition

The pods with seeds are meant to be eaten raw or cooked. Cooking should be minimal to preserve the advantageous vitamins. Cook in boiling water for one to two minutes or add as the last ingredient in stir-fry dishes.