Peas are easy to grow in the home garden and come in a wide variety of cultivars. The type of pea you choose will depend on the portion of the pea that you find most pleasing, the seed or the pod.
English or Garden Peas
English or garden peas are grown for their seeds. This is the type of pea that you can purchase commercially frozen or in the can. They can be harvested at two maturity points depending on intended use. Harvested early, the peas can be eaten raw and are often used in salads. For use as a cooked vegetable they are grown until the pods are full and plump. Once ripe they are removed from the pod which is then discarded. The plants are available in climbing and low growing varieties.
Characteristics: Firm round pods are fibrous are not palatable, sweet seeds are shelled.
Edible Portion: Seeds
Snow peas are grown for their edible tender seed pod. This type of pea is commonly found in stir fry dishes and is a delicious raw addition to a garden salad. These peas need to be harvested early while the seeds are small. If the seeds are left to grow to any size, they can be eaten like regular peas, but they do not have the same sweet flavor as a garden pea. The plants are available in climbing and low growing varieties.
Characteristics: Translucent, tender pod with tiny visible seeds.
Edible Portion: Tender pod.
Sugar Snap Peas
Like the snow pea, the sugar snap pea is grown for its edible seed pod. This type of pea is grown to maturity and eaten in the same manner as a snap bean. The plants are available in climbing varieties and require support.
Characteristics: Pod with the texture of a snap bean.
Edible Portion: Pod with the seeds. Seeds are usually not shelled.