UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA


Garden Help > Vegetables

UC Links

Photo: University of California
Photo: University of California
How to grow: Peas, UC Davis Vegetable Research and Information Center 

Pest management: Pea cultural tips, pests, and diseases

The Basics

Peas are a cool season vegetable in Santa Clara County. There are three types of fresh peas:

  • Shelling peas, where the tough pod is removed before eating
  • Snow peas, which have edible pods and are harvested while the peas inside are small and immature
  • Sugar snap peas, which have edible pods and are harvested when the peas are plump

When to plant

  • Transplant: February–March, September–October
  • Direct seed: February–March, August–September (maybe October)
  • Allow 3 weeks if growing from seed for transplants

Harvest window

  • For best flavor and tenderness, harvest shelling and sugar snap peas when the peas have just reached full size. Overly mature peas will be starchy.
  • Harvest snow peas while pods are still flat, just as the seeds start to form.
  • Cook peas as soon as possible after harvesting, because conversion of sugars to starches will continue even after harvesting.

Care overview

  • Pea plants can be either bush (18-24 inches tall) or vining (3-6 feet tall). Vining types require support and generally produce for a longer period. Bush types don't strictly need support but a modest support can help keep the peas off the ground.
  • Provide thin supports that pea tendrils can clasp (e.g., string, thin wire) rather than thick supports such as stakes or bamboo.
  • Provide good sun exposure and air circulation to reduce incidence of powdery mildew.

More links

Recommended Varieties for Santa Clara County*

Little Marvel (shelling), OP Heavy yields of fine-flavored peas on vigorous plants. Heirloom variety. Best on a short trellis. 3–4' tall. Plant 4" apart.
Tall Telephone (shelling), OP Large pods of delicious peas on tall vines. Heirloom variety. Needs a trellis. 6' tall. Plant 4" apart.
Mammoth Melting Sugar (snow pea), OP Heirloom variety with sweet 4–5" long flat pods are borne on vigorous vines. 4–5' tall. Plant 3–4" apart.
Super Sugar Snap, OP Vigorous vines yield a heavy crop of delicious, edible-podded sugar snap peas. Healthy and mildew resistant. Thick, juicy pods are great raw or cooked. 5–6' tall. Plant 3–4" apart.

Other recommended varieties: 

  • Shelling: Maestro
  • Snow Pea: Oregon Sugar Pod II

* Many other varieties may also do well here in Santa Clara County. This list is based on UC Master Gardener trials, taste tests, and feedback from local growers.

Webmaster Email: webmaster-mgsantaclara@ucanr.edu