So you want to try your hand at growing peas in your garden, but when you go to buy seeds, there are so many options! How to choose? Peas are all fairly similar in their growing needs, so you should pick mainly based on how you like to use them in cooking. Here’s a guide to the different types of peas, to help you choose a great variety for your garden.
The Three Kinds of Peas
There are three different types of peas, each suited to different ways of eating them - snap peas, snow peas, and shelling peas.
Snap peas have fat, juicy and sweet edible pods. Some of these varieties are so sweet they’re like candy! If you’re looking for an addictive, healthy snack straight out of the garden, this is the type to grow. Kids especially love them. These are usually the earliest peas to mature, as some can be ready to pick in less than 60 days from planting.
- Sugar Ann - Sweet little peas grow on bushy, compact plants and are ready in just 55 days!
- Sugar Snap - The classic, original snap pea. 5-6 foot vines yield lots of crunchy sweet peas in 66 days.
- Sugar Daddy - You can have whatever you like, as long as it’s heavy yields of big, crunchy sweet snap peas borne at the top of conveniently-sized 2-3 foot tall plants.
- Sugar Magnolia - Bright purple snap peas! Beautiful and delicious.
Snow peas have edible pods like snap peas, except they are flatter, with smaller seeds. These are the peas you usually see in Asian-style stir fries. They are also great sauteed in butter or fresh in salads.
- Mammoth Melting Sugar - Heavy yields of 4-5 inch, tender and sweet snow peas.
- Oregon Sugar Pod II - Compact plants with resistance to powdery mildew, mosaic virus, and wilt.
- Dwarf Grey Sugar - An old heirloom prized for slender, sweet pods borne on 2-3 foot tall plants.
Shelling peas, sometimes called “English” peas or simply “garden peas,” have fibrous, inedible pods. You only eat the seeds inside. These peas are particularly well suited to freezing and canning, so they are the peas that many of us grew up eating. But make no mistake, a batch of homegrown, fresh-picked shelling peas bears no resemblance to the canned green mush you were forced to eat before you could have dessert! They are fantastic when quickly sauteed in butter, mixed into a pasta dish, or even pureed on top of toast.
- Little Marvel - A very early producer of sweet, delicious peas on tiny plants that grow to just 2 feet tall. Great for container gardening.
- Wando - A relatively heat-tolerant selection, great for late spring plantings, or Southeastern growers.
- Green Arrow - High yields of 5 inch pods on 2-3 foot tall plants.
There you have it, the three main types of peas, how to use them, and some great variety options for each! Hopefully that makes your decision a little easier. If you feel ready to give it a go, shop our full collection of pea seeds, or if you need a few pointers, check out our blog article on how to grow peas.
Written by Sow True Seed's Agriculture Director, Leah Smith