Learn how to easily grow your own sugar snap peas in a pot from your porch, balcony, or backyard by following these simple steps!
Are you interested in an easy and fun hobby?
Would you like to start growing some of your own food?
Or maybe you’re looking for some pretty greenery for your backyard or porch that will actually produce something beneficial to you too?
Then follow these simple directions to start growing your own sugar snap peas in a pot! Trust me, it’s easier than you think. 😉
3 Reasons to GROW YOUR OWN FOOD:
- It’s environmentally-friendly. By no longer buying sugar snap peas at the store, you are reducing the environmental impact of transportation from the original farm (whichever state or country that is), to the processing and packaging plant, to your grocery store. You are not supporting the use of pesticides and herbicides or the degradation of soil which damages ecosystems, and you are instead supporting your own local pollinators, ecosystem and environment.
- It’s healthier. Home grown produce is better for you. You get to pick the peas when they are at their ripest since they won’t have to be picked early and transported from far away. This means they taste better, they will be more fresh, and they have more nutrients than store-bought snap peas. Not only do they have more nutrients, but you also get to choose what goes into and onto your food. You can also grow your food organically by using compost, organic fertilizers, and natural pest repellent (and only if necessary).
- It’s cheaper. One seed packet costs around one dollar at your local gardening store. Just one seed packet contains many seeds, and each seed grows a whole sugar snap pea plant. And each plant can grow many pea pods! So it’s definitely a dollar well spent ;).
Ok, now let’s prepare…
VARIETY & HEIGHT of Sugar Snap Plants:
Sugar Snap Peas grow in two heights: climbing or bush.
- The climbing snap peas grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall.
- The bush snap peas grow to be around 2 to 3 feet tall.
Your local agricultural extension will list out the varieties that grow best in your area. Here are the suggested sugar snap pea varieties that grow best in Texas. Bush peas may be easiest to grow in pots, but I planted climbing peas in my pot which also worked out great. Decide which variety you would prefer based on your desired height and your area.
You can find seed packets at your local gardening store, plant nursery, or sometimes even the grocery store (the snap pea seeds I grew in this tutorial were from Walmart).
WHEN TO PLANT Sugar Snap Peas:
Sugar Snap Peas can be grown in the fall and the spring. Because sugar snap peas are a cool-season vegetable, they can actually tolerate light frosts as they grow.
Spring: Spring begins towards the end of March. Plant the seeds 6 weeks before the last expected frost. You want them to be mature while the weather is cool so in most of North America you should plant them in February to April. In warmer climates, you can even plant them earlier than that. In South Texas, the suggested planting date for sugar snap peas is January 1 to February 15.
Fall: If you plant sugar snap peas in the fall, plant them in the last 8 to 10 weeks before the first expected frost of winter to guarantee a plentiful harvest. You can find the expected first frost for your city or county with a quick google search. Sometimes, the planting date can even land towards the end of summer when the temperatures begin to drop (this is what I did).
NOTE: Keep in mind that if your soil temperature is cold (40 to 50 degrees F), the seeds may take longer to germinate (from 9 to 36 days).
If you need a set of garden tools for this project (hand trowel, transplant trowel and hand rake) this set is very highly rated and durable to last for many more years of gardening projects.
#1. Soak your Seeds:
To help your seeds germinate (AKA grow) you can soak the seeds in a bowl of water overnight before you plan to plant the seeds. If you choose not to do this, many seeds will still germinate, but this will help more of them sprout.
You can also cover the seeds in a powdered inoculant before planting or add the inoculant to the soil. This speeds up the germination process and increase the plants’ nutrient uptake and vegetable yield.
#2. Pick your Pot:
Pick a container that is about 12” wide and has drainage holes.
Here is the pot I used (the first pot below). The second pot option below has an attached saucer which is especially desirable if you’d like to keep things tidy on your porch or balcony. I actually ended up using a 10″ pot, but I would recommend the 12″ size because it holds more soil and gives the plants more room (so you yield more sugar snap peas!).
#3. Choose a Supporting Structure:
My dad happened to have some wire fencing lying around, so I used that for my support structure. We cut it to the correct size with bolt cutters and then bent it with our hands into a rounded shape so it would fit into the container that my pea plants were growing in. If bending it is too difficult, you can just leave it as a tall wire fencing strip in or next to your pot.
There are multiple options for support structures you can use as a trellis for your peas:
Option 1. Teepee:
This is an easy DIY option. Use 3 or 4 long branches, metal poles, or bamboo stakes (make sure they are tall enough!). A teepee of 3 stakes works best for a round pot (4 stakes creates a square shape best for a garden bed).
To make your own, tie the tops of the stakes by threading twine over and under each of the stakes to keep it all secure. Twine is ideal for this because it has some grip to it and won’t break down quickly (like a rubber band would). At the end of the growing season, you can easily collapse the teepee to store it for next season (bonus!).
Instead of making your own teepee trellis, you can also find these at hardware and garden stores or online, like this metal teepee (which comes in 58″ or 69″ heights. Make sure it will be tall enough for your chosen pea variety!
Option 2. Wall Trellis:
A wall trellis will look the best against a wall (obviously). This wall trellis can be used along a wall, as a divider, or as a fence. It is especially great because it’s made of natural willow sticks. Since the stick pieces may be over ¼” in diameter, however, you may need to add some natural plant netting or chicken wire for the pea plant tendrils to easily attach to.
NOTE: Pea plants attach to a support structure by wrapping its tendrils around anything that has has a diameter that is 1/4 of an inch or smaller. See here how my pea plant is wrapped around the metal wire to help support itself as it grows vertically.
Option 3. Tomato Cage:
A cheap option would be to pick up a tomato cage from your local gardening store or nursery and place it upside down around the pot. Normally tomato cages are cylindrically shaped that widen out at the top, but if you flip that around, the wider part can fit around your pot. They can be found for just a couple dollars or less at home improvement stores and usually in multiple sizes. Or you can find this durable alternative option online in two heights: 51” or 72”.
Option 4. Decorative Trellis:
This is the prettiest option because it is meant to look nice! Choose from a plethora of decorative trellises that are out there, but just make sure it is tall enough for your needs and the poles are narrow enough (¼” or less) for the pea plant to grip onto. This one is my favorite one that I found.
Option 5. Tube Trellis:
If you have anything that is pillar-shaped around your yard like a covered porch support, lamp post, mailbox, or gutter down spout, you can spruce up the look with a tube trellis. This one comes in two pieces so that you can easily attach the tube around it. This looks really clean and beautiful as the vines start growing up along the structure.
#4. Add Soil to the Pot
Peas grow best in rich, well-draining soil, so regular potting soil is all you need for your container garden. You may see soil labeled “garden soil” or “vegetable soil”, but these are for in-ground gardens, not for growing in containers.
Add the soil to the pot, leaving one inch of space at the top.
#5. Plant the Sugar Snap Seeds
Check your specific seed packet to see how far apart and how deep to plant each seed. They will most likely need to be spaced about 1 to 2 inches apart and ½ to 1 inch beneath the soil. Keep the seeds about 1 inch away from the edge of the pot.
You can simply use your finger to make these holes in the soil and put about 2 seeds in each hole in case some of them are not able to germinate. Then cover the holes with about 1 inch of soil and water them thoroughly (without drowning them).
While you are waiting for them to germinate, keep them in a lightly shaded area. Once they germinate (when the little seedlings sprout), move the pot to a spot with full sun exposure.
#6. Fertilize your Pea Plants
Peas are in the legume family which absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it into a soluble form in the soil that the plants can then use. Until their roots form the nodules that produce this nitrogen, it is helpful if you fertilize them at the time you plant them with organic fertilizer. You don’t have to use organic fertilizer, but if you don’t want to apply chemicals to your food, choosing organic fertilizer is the way to do it.
Normally, sugar snap peas in a garden bed would not need to be fertilized much more than once or twice over the whole season. Since our snap pea plants are growing in containers, however, they need to be watered more often than if they were in the ground. This means the nutrients in the soil are leached (drained) out. You can fertilize your sugar snap peas once every week to help them grow quicker and produce more pea pods.
#7. Water your Plants
The general rule with sugar snap peas in pots is to water them if the soil becomes dry. This could mean you need to water them every day (this is what I had to do during the warmer months).
To prevent disease, it’s best to water them at the beginning of the day and to avoid getting the leaves wet. A watering can with a long spout like this beautiful copper watering helps to keep the water from hitting the plant which would increase the risk of fungal disease.
#8. Harvest Delicious Sugar Snap Peas
The really cool thing about pea plants is that they are self-pollinating (they do not require pollinators like bees to produce their “fruit”).
About 5 to 7 days after the plant flowers, it will have produced a full-grown sugar snap pea! It’s fascinating. At that point, if the pea pod is swollen and has reached its full length (according to your seed packet), it is ready to harvest.
Simply pull the pea pod off of the vine, carefully using two hands, and eat it now or store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure you keep picking the ripe peas off the plant because if they are left on for too long the snap peas become starchy and stringy (just not tasty at all, trust me). Continually harvesting your pods also encourages new production elsewhere on the plant.
You can harvest peas from your plant until its season ends when summer heat dries it out (if you planted in the spring) or when the winter freezes kill it (if you planted in the fall).
Let me know in the comments if you are going to try your hand at growing sugar snap peas this season! Do you have an in-ground backyard garden or more of a container garden? What else have you grown?