Planting Fall Peas, is it worth it?

We love fresh garden peas.  It never seems that we have enough space for them in the spring.  We plant peas everywhere we can find a little corner, but it always seems there just isn’t enough space for all the peas we want.  I have to be careful not to plant too many peas because even though we plant our peas in March (or February in the hoop houses) they still aren’t done bearing until late June.  This means they are in the way of our summer crops.

We have tried to make up for this by planting peas in the fall.  The only problem is planting peas that time of year is a very hit and miss business.  Over the years I have planted fall peas about 5 or 6 times.  I think we have had a small crop only two of those years.  Usually they go in a bed where the summer crop matures early.  For example this year our onions were done early so I replanted the bed on August 15th with peas.  Even planting the peas that early they were still not ready in time for the cold weather to kill them.

As you can see the pea plants were doing pretty well.  We had blossoms and the peas actually started to form pods.  Even with the added protection of a hoop house we still couldn’t get them to mature this year.

By mid November it was apparent that they weren’t going to make it.  So before the pea plants were completely ruined by the cold I cut the plants off at ground level and fed them to the chickens.  This is a treat the chickens really enjoyed.  There isn’t a lot of green growing plants around here in November so it made for a good change for them.

So my question to my readers is this, is it worth it for me to keep trying to plant peas in the fall?  What has your experience been with peas planted in the fall?  The only advantage I can see is they did provide some good greens for the chickens for a few days in November. They also act as a good cover crop in the bed they are planted in.  Peas, like all other legumes, fix nitrogen from the air, into the soil.  Next years crop in that bed will enjoy the extra nitrogen.

I think I will try planting fall peas one more year.  My goal for 2012 is to find a spot in the yard where I can plant peas on July 15th.  Maybe if I get them in that early, I can get some to eat?   Please give me your input.


  1. Robin December 18, 2011 6:41 am Reply

    I have never had any luck with planting peas for the fall. We love peas around here. Since peas do not take up much room, I plant them along the edges of the beds and trellis them. That way I can plant summer crops in front of them. You can also put cucumbers as a second crop where the peas are planted. Last year I put the cucs in a bit too late. I usually tuck them in by the peas before the peas are finished producing and then they use the trellis after the peas are pulled.

    I hope this helps. I would give it a try starting them early and see what happens. You could even try starting them inside or in pots for a fall crop.

  2. Julie December 18, 2011 3:03 pm Reply

    This is the first year I’ve tried fall peas and I got one decent harvest and that was it. We’ve even had a very mild fall, so I was hoping they would do better. If the plants survive the winter, will they produce again in the spring? That would be nice!

    It seems I can’t win with peas in spring or fall in zone 7. Most of the time I don’t get them in the ground early enough in the spring for them to produce before it gets too hot. This year I’m going to try planting them at the beginning of Feb in a shady spot and see if they’ll do better.

    Someday that pea harvest will come!

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