This snowy, never ending winter had me looking for some horticultural therapy these past couple of months. Combing through seed catalogs back when the snow was over the picnic table, I came across some peas for sprouting. In the past, I had tried alfalfa sprouts, radish sprouts, bean sprouts, wheatgrass sprouts and even lentil sprouts but never peas. So, on to my order form they went and came in the mail a few weeks later.
Anyone who has grown peas knows they sprout and grow quite readily. I filled a few flats with moistened soilless growing mix. No fertilizer is necessary as the plants will be harvested a couple of weeks after they germinate and all the nutrition they need for that short of a time period is in the seed. Some sources suggested soaking the seeds overnight, which would probably speed germination by a few days, but I just planted them rather thickly and then covered the seeds with a half inch or so of growing mix. Then the flat got a light watering so that the seeds would be surrounded by moist but not saturated media.
I put my flat in a clear plastic bag in an east facing window to keep the moisture in and also to keep the temperature a bit on the cool side – just the way peas like it. Within less than a week the seeds sprouted. Remove the flat from the bag as soon as you see about half the seeds germinating. Water when the media starts to dry out. While I used a plastic flat (which I will was and reuse) I noticed one enterprising pea shoot grower on the web was using those crates that clementines come in.
That they got less that one half a day’s worth of sun (less with all the cloudy days we had) did not really matter since they were going to be harvested when only 3 or 4 inches tall. If you were growing them for profit, the pea seedlings would be grown in brighter light to keep them from being leggy.
In about 3 weeks, I harvested my green pea shoots and had them on my salad last week. So while I could not plant my peas outdoors on St. Patrick’s Day, I could plant them indoors and give myself a small dose of spring in a pot.
Not only are pea shoots easy to grow but surprisingly nutritious. They contain vitamins C and A, and 4 times the amount of folic acid as is found in bean sprouts. And they taste good too! Just planted a second batch!