Petit Pois: sowing, cultivation, maintenance and harvesting

In France, we can cultivate more than 80 varieties of peas. This means that the choice is vast, leaving the gardener all the time to plant peas whatever the climate of his region, some being able to tolerate moderate frosts. With wrinkled or smooth grains, mange-tout with shelling peas, or even small row peas with the dwarf variety, we therefore choose according to our tastes but also the space available. From sowing to harvesting through the sometimes necessary staking, let’s see what you need to know (and do) to taste the peas from the garden in spring.

Sow the pea

In a mild climate, we sow in autumn but in order for the varieties to withstand the winter, it is necessary to sink them to 6 cm. In climates with harsher winters, it is better to sow your peas in spring, which is also the case with certain varieties, for example those with wrinkled seeds.

The sowing directly in place between February and April is only recommended for classic round-seeded pea varieties, and if you want to grow wrinkled peas or snow peas, you have to wait until May-June so that the sun has had time to warm the soil in the garden. So-called in-place sowing can be done in two different ways, namely:

  • In pockets : every 50 cm we place 5 to 6 seeds,
  • Online (furrow), a single seed at a depth of 5 cm:
    • every 3 to 5 cm, if it is a rowing variety,
    • every 1.5 cm if it is a dwarf variety.

We must take care of separate the furrows forming the lines from 30 to 60 cm depending on the height of the cultivar.

Once the seeds are in place and covered with a thin layer of potting soil, we lead with the back of the rake to slightly compact the earth and, in order to start germination, it is advisable towater in rain in the process.

Another solution is to sow the peas on a honeycomb plate. This has several advantages:

  • Easily control the number of seeds to sow,
  • Protect :
    • seeds against birds,
    • young plants against attacks of snails and slugs,
    • prevent fungal diseases.

In addition, the mini-clods produced using the honeycomb plates can then be transplanted directly into place much more easily. For information, a plate for seedlings with a hundred cells costs between 2 and 4 euros. The one with lid and 24 cells is generally sold between 7 and 9 euros.

Growing peas

Growing peas does not pose any particular difficulty as long as the plants are installed in an area of ​​the vegetable garden sunny in the morning at half-shaded during the hottest hours to prevent the plants from burning. These legumes love them fairly humid soils But well drained, very fertile and light.

Butter the peas

About 3 weeks after emergence, we do a hilling of the spring peas. This increases their resistance to strong winds. To butter, you simply have to bring the earth towards the feet in order to form a small mound 15 to 18 cm high. There is no question of suffocating the plants of course, which must therefore protrude from the hill by at least a third of their height.

Pea companion plants

In the vegetable garden, the peas mate with cabbage, carrot, lamb’s lettuce, lettuce, potato, pickle and cucumber, celery and turnip.

But beware of bad associations! Peas are not grown in close proximity to parsley, shallot, garlic and onion, tomato and leek.

Take care of your peas

Here are the few fundamental steps to successfully planting peas until harvest.


Watering peas is essential very regularly until the end of flowering so as not to expose the legumes to water stress which can greatly reduce production. The alternation of dry earth / wet earth is therefore to be avoided. On the other hand, the waterings must be reduced as soon as the pods or pods form, especially if it rains from time to time, this being sufficient. A little watering is nevertheless essential in times of great drought.


Staking is essential for all varieties peas without exception, which includes semi-dwarfs and dwarfs because they also need to be able to hang on thanks to their tendrils. To do this, you can choose to install:

  • Rowing nets,
  • Welded mesh,
  • Chicken roasting,
  • Or, if you prefer to use a ancestral technique :
    • straight willow, bamboo or hazelnut stems about 200 to 220 cm high for tall varieties,
    • oak or hornbeam branches which are branched and are particularly suitable for the lower varieties.

If one does not wish to cultivate on a single row varieties of peas with great development, that is to say with oars, fine mesh netting and rowing netting must be hung on netting stretched beforehand between well poles. sunken. To support the small row peas grown in two rows, we can install straight stems on each row and make them meet at their top then tie them in pairs, securely. Of course, the two rows must be parallel to use this method of staking.


It is not absolutely essential to prune the pea plants even if, it is true, it was customary with our ancestors.

Pests and diseases of peas

The black and yellow fly is a diptera which can infest peas in the spring. Despite its small size since it does not exceed 2 mm in length, this pea leafminer is a real scourge. The leaf fly lays its eggs in May, which only take a few days to hatch, releasing larvae which dig galleries in the leaves and it is for the benefit of the latter that they feed. The leaves become discolored and more or less silvery sinuosities appear.

An inspection should be carried out regularly in order to quickly eliminate the affected leaves. As a preventive measure, we install as soon as possible insect nets on its plantations.

The bean weevil is a parasitic beetle peas. Its larvae, the bruchids, pierce the pods (pods) of dry peas before infiltrating the grains to feed on them. It is at the moment of husking that we notice its presence since the peas are crooked. These seeds should not be used for new seedlings. Again, insect nets are effective against this type of parasite.

We can also fear the gastropods as well as birds. Crushed oyster shells or sand spread all around the pea plants help control slugs and snails while forcing nets or sails prevent birds from pecking at the seeds early in the germination.

As to most common pea diseases, it’s about :

  • Of the’powdery mildew, favored by hot and humid environments: it can be treated with a fungicide suitable for vegetable garden products or, for a natural solution, with a mixture of water, sodium bicarbonate and Marseille soap.
  • Theanthracnose, very common in dense and early plantations of peas, is transmitted by a parasite which attacks all the external parts of the plant.
  • The botrytis, which causes shoots, stems and pods to rot, is favored by the combination of heat and humidity. Spraying with a fungicide should be done early as a preventative measure. The development of parasitic fungi can also be inhibited with garlic manure rich in sulfur or horsetail rich in salicylic acid.

Butter the peas and then guide them with a stake are precautions to take because it helps protect the plants against fungal diseases.

Harvest the peas

Harvesting peas can be done from the month of may or about three months after sowing as long as care has been taken to respect the various maintenance steps. The harvest must take place at the right time as many varieties become floury and lose their flavor slightly sweet over time.

The shelling peas should be harvested as soon as the pods are less colored and bulge due to the fact that the grains have grown well. As for the mange-tout varieties, that is to say those that are not shelled, they are harvested early while the still young peas are the size of a small caliber log.

The pea seeds that one cultivates in his vegetable garden can be preserved in order toto be sown if they are healthy. We can therefore reserve one or two plants for this purpose, if possible of good vigor, and we let the pods dry on the feet. As soon as they start to open, it’s time to pick them. It is then sufficient to extract the seeds to store in the refrigerator for two days. They can then be placed in perfectly airtight jars where they will retain their germination power for 36 months.

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