Peas are up and my mind is a-flurry with all the fresh flavors my garden will soon yield. But right now, I can enjoy pea shoots—one of my favorite early garden treats. The tender green tendrils may grab at the trellis to grow, but the shoots are edible and taste a lot like peas. Harvesting a few pea shoots won’t harm the vines’ growth, but actually encourages more branches, potentially producing more peas at harvest. When plants are a few inches tall, select 2”–4” shoots from the top of the plants and pinch them off using your fingernails or scissors, leaving at least one set of true leaves on the plant (see illustration). Assuming you don’t snack on them right in the garden, add them to a salad or use them as a garnish for dinner.
If you love pea shoots as much as I do, at any time of year you can sow a container of peas for shoots. Sometime in February I got the itch for a fresh salad, so I set up a container indoors in front of a sunny window and sowed pea seeds 1” apart on all sides. Pea seeds germinate faster if they are soaked 12 to 24 hours prior to sowing, but it isn’t necessary. In just two to four weeks you will be eating fresh shoots! Our Peas for Shoots Microgreens variety is delicious and can easily be grow indoors any time of year. You can even harvest a crop two or three times to get your fill.
If your pea plants start to flower, you can eat those, too! I harvest just a few at a time so I don’t impact the pea yield. Usually, you will see two flowers coming from one leaf junction. By harvesting one of the pair, you are actually making the remaining flower generate a larger pea than it otherwise would have. Aren’t pea plants interesting?
Did you sow peas this year? What seedlings are you starting to see in your garden?