A Guide to Growing Peas in Minnesota

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growing peas in minnesota

Growing Tasty Peas in Minnesota

Peas, with their sweet and tender pods, are a beloved addition to gardens and plates across the world. Yet, growing these delicious legumes in the challenging climate of Minnesota, marked by cold winters and short growing seasons, can be quite a feat. Fortunately, with the advent of grow bags, gardeners in Minnesota can conquer these challenges and relish the rewards of homegrown peas. In this article, we’ll explore the art of planting peas in grow bags, focusing on the optimal timing for a bountiful harvest.

Note: Peas are available exclusively in MEG’s CSA program. Find out more here.

Understanding Pea Growing Seasons

Peas are a cool-season crop, and the timing of their planting in Minnesota is critical for a successful harvest. Here are key factors to consider:

  • Last Spring Frost: The last spring frost in Minnesota typically occurs in mid May. It’s vital to plant peas after this date to avoid frost damage to young plants.
  • First Fall Frost: The first fall frost in Minnesota usually happens in late September to early October. This marks the end of the growing season for most plants, including peas.
  • Ideal Growing Temperature: Peas thrive in cooler temperatures, and their ideal soil temperature for germination is between 45°F and 75°F (7°C to 24°C).

Using Grow Bags for Pea Cultivation

Grow bags provide a versatile solution to the challenges of pea cultivation in Minnesota. These bags offer several advantages:

  • Mobility: Grow bags are portable, enabling you to move them to find the best sun exposure or protect your peas from adverse weather conditions.
  • Temperature Control: The soil in grow bags warms up more quickly in the spring, allowing for earlier planting, and can be moved indoors to extend the growing season in the fall.
  • Soil Quality: You have control over the soil quality in grow bags, ensuring optimal conditions for seed germination and pea growth.
  • Space Efficiency: Grow bags are ideal for small spaces, such as balconies, patios, or small gardens, making them suitable for urban gardeners.

Optimal Timing for Planting Peas in Grow Bags

The flexibility of grow bags gives you greater control over your pea planting schedule. Here’s a month-by-month guide on when to plant pea seeds in Minnesota using grow bags:

1. Early Spring Planting (April)

  • As soon as the last spring frost has passed (usually late April to early May), you can begin sowing pea seeds in grow bags. The warmer soil inside the bags allows for an earlier start compared to planting directly in the ground.
  • Select pea varieties known for their cold resistance and quick maturation, such as ‘Sugar Ann’ or ‘Little Marvel.’

2. Late Spring Sowing (May)

  • Continue sowing pea seeds in grow bags throughout May. This staggered planting ensures a continuous harvest through the summer and into the fall.

3. Preparing for Fall Harvest (July)

  • In early July, consider sowing another round of pea seeds in grow bags. These peas will be ready for harvest in the fall, extending your pea season.

4. Preparing for Winter Storage (August)

  • For those interested in overwintering peas, early August is the time to sow seeds in grow bags. These peas can be left in the bags and harvested throughout the winter.

Tips for Successful Pea Planting in Grow Bags

To maximize the success of your pea planting in grow bags, consider the following tips:

  • Soil Preparation: Use a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Peas thrive in soil with good fertility. Consider adding compost or well-rotted manure to the mix.
  • Proper Watering: Keep the soil in grow bags consistently moist but not waterlogged. Peas require even moisture for good pod development.
  • Support: Pea plants tend to grow tall and might require support to prevent them from toppling over. Use stakes or trellises to provide support for the growing vines.
  • Mulching: Adding a layer of mulch over the soil in the grow bags helps conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and reduce weed growth. Mulch also keeps the soil from drying out too quickly.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Regularly inspect your pea plants for signs of pests or diseases. Common pests for peas include aphids and pea weevils. Keep your garden clean and practice crop rotation to reduce the risk of disease.
  • Companion Planting: Planting peas alongside companion plants like carrots or radishes can help deter pests and improve soil health.
  • Protection from Cold (Fall): In late summer or early fall, cover your pea plants in grow bags with row covers to protect them from cold temperatures and frost. This allows you to continue harvesting into the fall and even early winter.

Harvesting and Storing Peas

Peas are typically ready for harvest 60 to 70 days after planting, depending on the variety. Here’s how to harvest and store your homegrown peas:

  • Harvest: Gently pick the pea pods when the peas inside have reached the desired size. Pods should be firm and bright green. Use two hands and hold the vine with one hand while picking with the other to avoid damaging the plant.
  • Cleaning: Shell the peas by simply opening the pods and removing the peas. Discard any pods that are discolored or damaged.
  • Storage: Store your harvested peas in the refrigerator. Peas are best when consumed soon after harvest but can be stored in the crisper drawer for a few days. For long-term storage, consider blanching and freezing them.

Conclusion

Growing peas in Minnesota can be a rewarding experience with the use of grow bags, which provide versatility and control over planting dates. By understanding the state’s growing seasons and the benefits of grow bags, you can enjoy a continuous harvest of these sweet and nutritious legumes. Whether you’re looking to enjoy early spring peas or extend your harvest into the fall and winter, grow bags offer a practical solution for cultivating delicious homegrown peas in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.