The best time to plant peas in northern Virginia is from March 1st to March 31st according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. (See all their recommended vegetable planting dates.)
Here are some more pea growing tips from Larry Shapira, instructor at the Merrifield Garden Center’s Seed Starting Class.
- Pre-sprout the seeds in a paper towel. Dampen the paper towel, lay down several seeds, roll up the paper towel, and place it in a plastic bag. Put the plastic bag in a warm place. (Pre-sprouting is optional. Members of the Sustainable Prince William Meetup note that they have also had success planting peas directly into the ground.)
- If your garden is newly dug (1-2 years old) roll the peas in pea innoculant first (available at garden centers and online. New gardens may not have built up the needed bacteria yet and the innoculant provides it.
- Open the paper towel and check the seeds twice a day. You’ll want to remove them after they sprout but before their roots grow into the paper towel itself. Avoid disturbing the roots once they start to develop.
- If upon checking you find some peas that are developing roots, remove them from the paper towel and plant them directly in the ground. If you can’t plant in the ground yet – if it’s still snowing for instance – plant them in pots inside until you can transplant them into the ground.
- Once planted outside, give your peas netting or chicken wire to latch onto and grow up. They’re too delicate to latch onto a large trellis.