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Plant early for sweetest peas in Missouri

Plant early for sweetest peas in Missouri

By Blake Jackson

While "early June peas" might sound delightful, the key to truly delicious peas lies in planting them early, says University of Missouri Extension horticulturist David Trinklein. Cool weather peas are tastier as the sugars they contain haven't converted to starch yet.

Since Missouri weather can quickly transition from spring to summer, planting peas as soon as the soil warms is crucial. This cool-season veggie thrives in well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Simply sow seeds about an inch deep and two inches apart in rows spaced 18-24 inches.

Peas benefit from a soil test before planting to determine fertilizer needs. However, they can fix some nitrogen with the help of bacteria. If your plants show signs of yellowing after pods start forming, a side-dressing of nitrogen might be necessary. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy.

Several pea varieties flourish in Missouri. Popular choices include Spring, Sparkle, Little Marvel, Lincoln, Green Arrow, Bolero, and Wando. Taller varieties need support and more space between rows, while dwarf varieties can be planted closer together.

Although relatively pest-resistant, peas can be affected by aphids, leafhoppers, and seed corn maggots. Diseases like fusarium wilt, powdery mildew, and root rot are also potential problems. Rotating planting locations helps manage these issues.

The tastiest peas are ready for harvest around mid-June, depending on the variety, planting date, and weather. The key is to pick pods when they're full and round. Peas left on the vine too long lose their sweetness as sugars convert to starch.

Peas might seem high in calories due to their sugar and starch content. However, they offer nutritional benefits. A half-cup serving of cooked peas packs 67 calories, fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins A, C, and folic acid, along with essential minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Craving more fresh peas? Plant again in late summer for a fall harvest! The cooler weather helps them develop exceptional flavor.

Photo Credit: pixabay-ruslanababenko

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Categories: Missouri, Crops, Fruits and Vegetables

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