Shelling Pea Seeds - Lincoln


Pisum sativum

HEIRLOOM. Lincoln peas, also known as Homesteader, are an old favorite introduced in 1908. They are known for their sweet flavor and unmatched heat tolerance, producing high yields of easy-shelling, 3- to 4-inch-long pods much later into the warm summer season than most English peas. Bushy plants grow to about 30 inches tall, and can be grown without a trellis, but will produce better if given some support.

These seeds can be direct-sown in the garden four to six weeks before your last frost date. Choose a location with full sun and well-draining soil, and be sure to put up a trellis or stakes for support at the time of planting. Peas will be ready to harvest in about 68 days. 14 gram packet contains approximately 65 seeds.

  • Planting Information
  • How to Grow
  • Saving Seeds


Avg. Seeds/PacketPacket WeightPlanting SeasonPlanting Method
656 ozearly spring, late summerdirect seed
Seed DepthDirect Seed SpacingSoil Temp. RangeDays to Sprout
Mature SpacingSun RequirementFrost ToleranceDays to Harvest
2-3"full sunfrost-hardy68

Shelling peas, snow peas, and snap peas all require the same basic growing conditions. Choose a spot in your garden that gets full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day) and well drained soil. Peas like soil in the slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0-7.0. A soil test will help you figure out where your soil falls and if you need to amend it to change the pH. Soil too rich in nitrogen will produce very healthy pea plants with few to no pods, so don’t add nitrogen-rich fertilizer to your soil when planting peas. Peas have little need for extra nitrogen because as a legume, they produce their own with the help of symbiotic bacteria. Working some wood ash or bone meal into the soil before planting will help bring up the levels of phosphorus and potassium, which will help with pod production. 


Peas are a cool-season crop, and most varieties will not produce once the temperature reaches about 80°, so it’s very important to get an early start as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Ideally, you want to plant peas four to six weeks before the last expected frost, when the soil temperature reaches about 40°F, and when the daytime temperatures are between 60 and 65°F.  Growers in cool climates may be able to get a second fall crop with the help of row covers. In far Southern climates with mild winters, you can plant your peas in the fall and grow them over the winter. 


Peas, like all legumes, have very long tap roots and don’t transplant well, so direct seed them outside in your garden beds. Soak your seeds in water overnight, or up to 24 hours before planting to speed germination. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and spaced 2 to 3 inches apart. For both bush and vining varieties, planting in two rows, spaced about 24” apart is best because you can then run stakes or a trellis down the middle of the bed. You should have your trellis or stakes installed by the time of planting to give these fast-growing plants a place to go. Even bushy types that don’t send up runners will be heavy once they set pods and will need to be tied to stakes to keep them off the ground. 


Water thoroughly at the time of planting and check the soil for dryness every day until your seedlings are about 3” tall. After the seeds germinate, don’t water unless the top half-inch of your soil is dry, because peas are prone to rot if they stay too wet. As the plants grow throughout the season, water only if needed to achieve 1 inch of water per week, as is needed by most vegetable crops. 


For shelling (English) peas, wait to harvest until you see nice, full pods with the shape of the peas visible beneath the pods. For snow peas, the pods are best when young, tender, and barely starting to fill out. Snap peas are somewhere in between - you want a nice, full pod, but if you start to see the pea shapes in the pod, they are less sweet and more fibrous at that point, so pick before you see the pea seeds. The more you harvest, the more pods the plant will produce. To harvest pods, hold the vine gently with one hand and delicately pinch the pod from the vine with the other hand. Don’t tug on the vine or it may snap. Pea varieties mature at different rates, but your plants will start to bear pods anywhere from 50 to 70 days after planting.

Peas (Pisum sativum) are self-pollinating annuals. Though they rarely cross-pollinate, it’s a good idea to leave at least 20 feet of space between peas of different varieties to be sure of isolation. To harvest seed, leave the pods on the plant until they have turned brown at the end of the season. In dry climates, it may be possible to leave the pods on the plant until they are fully dry, but if rain or humid weather is expected, it’s better to bring the seed indoors to finish drying. Either harvest the pods and finish drying them on spread out on screens or newspaper, or pull up the whole plants and hang them in a barn or garage to dry. Once the pods are dry enough to shatter, shell the seeds out and winnow away any chaff by pouring the seed and chaff from one container to another in front of a box fan. Once you are sure the seeds are fully dry, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry location.