I was so excited about growing sugar snap peas in our new container gardens. Andy had worked on transforming our backyard into growing zones, and I knew that sugar snap peas would fit perfects in one of the quadrants of our raised container garden. The trellis was in place, the seeds arrived, and I was eager to get started. Luckily, in agricultural zones 9 and 10, you can sow seeds outside in September, as well as the more traditional spring windows of January through March. Are you intrigued? If so, read on for my progress and some tips about growing sugar snap peas in container gardens.
How Do You Start Growing Sugar Snap Peas?
I think the key to making sugar snap pea seedlings thrive is the potting mix you use in your container gardens. I typically use something organic when planting, and I’m also known to include a top layer of compost. This gives me some confidence that the pea seeds are being planted into an environment that is in the best possible shape to provide nutrition to the growing seedlings.
Do You Need to Soak Sugar Snap Peas Before Planting?
When you open your seed packet, you’ll see the dried pea seeds, and you might be tempted to soak them to increase your odds of germination. I didn’t do that. I just made sure to plant them shallowly (allowing light to get through to them) and kept the potting mix/compost moist for the first week. While soaking will probably make germination happen faster, it’s just not necessary for sugar snap peas. And, as far as I can tell, I didn’t have any sugar snap pea seeds that failed to germinate and sprout.
Should You Use Seed Trays?
If you are planting before your last frost (in zone 9 and 10, we rarely have deep frosts, but the last is usually at the beginning of February), you might want to start your seeds using an indoor container garden setup complete with trays and grow lights. This protects your tender sprouts from a sudden cold snap, and they are easy to transplant at a later time. However, if you are planting in late fall or after your last frost, you can feel free to plant them outside in your raised container garden beds.
Do You Need a Trellis for Sugar Snap Peas?
Yes. As you can see from our results, even at just over a month, the sugar snap peas are starting to vine and attach to the trellis. The tendrils that grow from the plant will seek something solid to “pull” themselves up out of the soil. Don’t worry if you see them getting tangled with each other. Somehow, the tendrils figure it out, and you can direct the plants as they begin growing. We will probably include a second temporary trellis to support the second row if they don’t climb as successfully as the first row.
How Do You Space the Pea Seeds?
I knew I needed to sow the sugar snap peas growing relatively densely, so I planted them about two inches apart. I also only planted them about an inch down, allowing the seeds to have a good dose of filtered light and water. The roots are relatively shallow (as opposed to something like a tomato plant, which is a space hog with deep roots). They also seem to get along with each other – they don’t seem to compete, even when planted in the same hole accidentally (which I realized I did). Essentially, they are pretty forgiving.
How Much Water is Required for Sugar Snap Pea Growing?
Here’s the good news for those of us living in drought-stricken Southern California – sugar snap peas do not require a lot of water. That’s not to say that you want them to dry out; you don’t. However, because they have shallow roots, you want the soil to be damp without being saturated (you don’t want to drown the roots). Depending on your container garden, you will want to play with this a little bit, but generally speaking, you don’t want to give them more than an inch of water over a week. At least, that is what is working for us right now.
How Much Sun is Best for Sugar Snap Pea Growing?
If you can, give your seedlings about six hours of sunlight a day. The plants are somewhat sensitive to heat, so if your growing zone includes intense heat even in October and November, you might want to find a way to shade the plants to protect them. We have a large building going up being your back garden, so these plants are only getting about five hours of sunlight a day, and they seem to be okay. We’ll see if it is a problem when the cooler weather arrives.
What are Good Companion Plants for Sugar Snap Pea Growing?
So far, I only have two other types of plants in the raised garden bed: Basil and Bell Pepper. Pea plants are nitrogen-fixing, so they are a terrific companion to many garden vegetables and herbs. I chose Basil because it thrives when planted near peas, and the intensely scented oil in the Basil plant helps keep all sorts of bugs away from the pea plants. Also, peas are said to enhance the flavor of bell peppers, and they don’t compete for soil resources. I haven’t chosen what to plant in my fourth quadrant of the container garden yet, so stay tuned!
Final Crop Photos
They grew so much that they were taller than the trellis! We loved eating them right off the vine, but we also had them whole in stir fry recipes and shelled as a side with only melted butter. If you want to eat fresh sugar snap peas, now is the time to get started, if you live in Zones 9 or 10.