There is something about peas, that gets me excited for spring. Maybe it’s their vibrant green or their sweet taste or the soft, yet crunchy consistency. Even without a garden or balcony you can enjoy homegrown pea flavor for almost no money spent and with very little effort. The solution? Grow pea shoots!
You can enjoy peas without actually growing pea pods!
Even if you don’t grow peas to harvest, that doesn’t mean that you have to do without their sweet taste and their super healthy nutrients. Since last year I’m completely hooked on growing pea shoots which can be done all year round.
Pea shoots are the tender green leafs and tendrils of the pea plant before even any flowers or pea pods form. It works like growing shoots of other plants like mung beans or broccoli, which are commonly used in stir fry or salad. You don’t have to wait for the plant to mature, you just eat the sprouts.
Why to grow pea shoots
In short: they are delicious! They actually taste like fresh green peas, slightly sweet and a bit nutty. Enjoy them raw, steamed, cooked or fried, it all tastes fantastic. Pea shoots are great in a stir fry, a salad, on a sandwich, as pesto over some pasta or as a garnish in creamy soups.
Just like other sprouts they are also full of nutrients, especially vitamin C, but also vitamin A, Iron and Folate.
To grow them is easy, quick and cheap and you’ll get a quick harvest from almost no investment. Even (or especially) without a garden: Pea shoots are a great opportunity to grow some gourmet food yourself and thereby to enrich your diet.
How to grow pea shoots
As mentioned, there is little that is as easy to grow as pea shoots. You can either use pot with a bit of potting soil (can be old, spent soil, no need for those expensive potting mixes). Or you use just a plate with a paper towel or cotton. It can be done outside after frost has passed or indoors.
Next you need some peas. I actually use the dried peas from the supermarket. They can be found in the same super market isle where you’d find dried beans, rice or chick peas. Those are super cheap, normally only some Cents for a whole bag and they will last you for a whole year of continuously growing pea shoots.
You can check the box to see when they have been packaged and then choose the “youngest” bag available. That should ensure that they will sprout but I never had problems with sprouting. It even worked with peas I found in the back of my cupboard and they probably have been there forever.
The first step would be to soak your peas in water for 1 to 2 days. Then drain them and spread them in one layer (they can be super close to each other, touching each other on all sides) OR on your moist soil OR on your moistened Cotton OR 3 layers of moist paper towels.
Next cover them with either more moist soil (about as deep as the peas are big) OR place a dish over them. That tricks them into thinking, they would be in the dark ground.
Keep your soil moist. If you use the dish, make sure to lift it once every day to let the peas ventilate for 5 minutes. Then re-moisten the paper towels or cotton and cover them back up. Remove the dish completely once the sprouts start growing some sings of leaves. That should happen after two to three days.
Re-moisten your growing medium every other day. Make sure, that it is not too wet (e.g. visible water puddles) to avoid mold and keep the shoots in a sunny spot.
Harvest your pea shoots multiple times
It only takes two weeks to grow some delicious pea shoots ready for harvest. If you keep them outdoors in early spring it can take a bit longer for them to sprout because of low temperatures.
To harvest them just cut off what you need. If you used cotton or a paper towel you can just plug out some plants. They can be eaten with the “pea” still attached, although I like mine without it.
They should be harvested latest when they start growing and intertwining tendrils. Otherwise the stalks and tendrils will get woody and tough.
If you don’t cut them off right the the base but leave at least on pair of leaves, they will regrow and you can harvest multiple times. For several harvests I recommend using a bit of potting mix instead of the other options.