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Growing Sugar Snap Peas – Planting and Using Sugar Snap Peas

After a long winter where not much is growing in the garden, it’s nice to have an early crop that likes the cold. Growing sugar snap peas gives the gardener a much anticipated outdoor task to do at this time of the year.

Peas like cool temperatures and have a tendency to fade out when the temperature warms up.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of walking out into your garden and eating a snap pea right from the vine. In our house, it’s a treat like candy!

Growing snap peas is easy and, once planted, a sugar snap pea plant seems to need little tending.

Plant the seeds and watch them grow. In no time at all, you’ll be enjoying a fist full of sweet garden peas, complete with pods!

two pods of sugar snap peas on vines.

What are sugar snap peas?

Sugar snap peas – pisum sativum var. macrocarpon – are a cool season crop. They are a frost hardy vegetable. Both the pods and peas inside are eaten raw and in recipes.

Peas belong to the legume family which produces pods with enclosed, edible seeds.

Pods of sugar snap peas grow to around 1 to 3 inches long and each pod contain 3-8 peas.

Snap peas are delicious cooked with other vegetables in a stir fry.

Sugar snap peas like the cool temperatures of spring. Find out how to plant and grow them and get a tasty stir fry recipe at the Gardening Cook.  Click To Tweet

Snow peas vs sugar snap peas

It is easy to be confused by the two varieties of peas, since they look similar and both are meant to have the peas as well as the pods eaten.

To confuse you even more, there is even a French word – mangetout, that means “eat all” which is used in reference to eating both snap peas and snow peas.

Two types of green peas on a peach colored background with text overlay reading sugar snap peas vs snow peas.

Sugar snap peas are a cross between English garden peas and snow peas. Snow peas have a flatter pod with small, flattened peas which don’t develop in size.

Snap peas have thick walls of the shells, while snow peas have thinner walls.

The peas of sugar snap peas are more rounded. Both peas have a similar flavor and nutritional information. Because of the size of the peas, sugar snap peas are more flavorful and sweet.

English peas, on the other hand are eaten only for the peas inside, and not the pods.

What month do you plant sugar snap peas?

All peas are one of the first crops of spring. Sugar snap peas are no exception. You can plant snap peas in early February in some locations of the country.

As long as the soil temperature has thawed and the soil is workable, you garden is ready for planting peas. Like all early cold hardy vegetables, watch for a final frost or light snow.

Sugar snap pea plants in the ground in a sunny spot.

Although snap peas can take the cold and even a light snow, a prolonged freezing period may weaken the crop and require the seeds to be planted again.

The growing season for sugar snap peas is quite short. Once the heat of summer arrives, most peas are done. If you have a long warm growing season, you can also plant sugar snap peas again in the fall.

Planting sugar snap peas

Choose an area of your garden that gets at least 4-5 hours of sun a day.  Location is important. A sunny location will give you pods that are very sweet.

Be sure the soil drains well. Peas can develop root rot in soggy soils. If you have poor soil, consider growing sugar snap peas in raised beds. 

Work the soil well, and add organic matter such as compost before planting seeds. Organic matter will add phosphorus and potassium which peas need.

Hand in garden glove adding mulch to snap pea crop.

Sow the seeds two inches apart and an inch deep in rows. Water well and mulch to prevent weeds.

Sugar snap peas will be ready to harvest in 6-8 weeks from planting. Be sure to pick the crop when the peas are green and tender and the peas inside are starting to swell.

If you let them grow too long, the peas will get tough and starchy and lose their sweetness.

Do snap peas need a trellis?

Vining plants such as sugar snap peas grow well on a trellis. Peas can grow up to six feet and the tendrils need support, since the peas can get heavy as the season progresses.

Sugar snap peas trellis.

You can use chicken wire, jute strung over posts in rows or tomato cages for the tendrils to climb on. Traditional trellises will also give support to your snap pea crop.

The tendrils of peas will climb up anything they can attach to. Even a lattice work fence will make them happy climbers.

Can you grow sugar snap peas in containers?

Sugar snap peas are an excellent vegetable to grow in containers, since they do not have a deep root system. 

When choosing a container, look for one that is wide, but not necessarily deep. The pot needs to be wide enough to hold several plants as well as some form of support.

Growing sugar snap peas in a container.

Be sure the container drains well. Plastic is better than clay pots or terracotta containers, since these will dry out more quickly.

As long as you have a sunny spot and you can keep the containers well watered, you can grow snap peas in pots.

Benefits of sugar snap peas

Are sugar snap peas good for you? Yes, indeed. They are a nutritional powerhouse!

Sugar snap peas are a great source of vitamin K which is good for your skeleton. They help to prevent future problems such as bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Snap peas are also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin c, vitamin K, folate, phosphorus and a great source of dietary fiber.

Sugar snap peas nutrition facts

A serving of sugar snap peas has 40 calories, 2 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of sugar. They are less than a gram of fat. (source: Web MD)

Sugar snap peas with yogurt on a clear plate.

This makes sugar snap peas a good snack for those trying to watch their weight. Serve them with some Greek yogurt or low fat ranch dressing.

Pin these tips for growing sugar snap peas for later

Would you like a reminder of this post for how to grow snap peas? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest.

Snap pea plants with words How to Grow Sugar Snap Peas.

Sugar snap peas, tomatoes & potatoes recipe

Is your garden producing lots of sugar snap peas, right now, and you don’t know what to do with the harvest? Try this recipe for snap peas and tomatoes. It is one of my go to meals when time is at a premium.

The whole recipe can be made in about 10 minutes. Yet, the dish is full of flavor and my family loves it.

Normally, I cook this recipe with just sugar snap peas, mushrooms and tomatoes but I had some roasted potatoes left over from last night when I made my roasted root vegetables, so I added them as well.

They turned the recipe into a very different side dish which is a bit more hearty but still garden fresh. It would also be lovely with new potatoes, too.

Admin note: this post about snap peas first appeared on the blog in October of 2013. I have updated the post to add all new photos, a printable recipe, and a video for you to enjoy.

Yield: 2 servings

Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas and Tomatoes

Plate of sugar snap peas, baby tomatoes and roast potatoes.

This sugar snap pea stir fry recipe is ready in just 10 minutes but full of flavor. It is a great way to use left over roasted potatoes.

All that is needed for the dish is just a very quick sauté of the sugar snap peas in olive oil and butter and then add the cut tomatoes for the last minute or two. Stir in your cooked potatoes and serve.  What could be easier?

Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup of baby tomatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces roast potatoes from a previous meal
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley to garnish

Instructions

  1. Add the butter and olive oil to a pan over medium high heat.
  2. Sauté the sugar snap peas for about 2 minutes. Do not over cook them. They should still be slightly crisp.
  3. Add the roasted potatoes and stir until warm.
  4. Toss in the halved baby tomatoes and stir for 1 - 2 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley, stir and serve immediately.

Notes

Vegans can use Earth Balance Buttery spread instead of butter.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 243Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 435mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 5g

Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.

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