One of the greatest parts of home gardening is being able to experience produce that is best eaten fresh and in season. Take sugar snap peas, for instance. Sugar snaps (peas you can eat pod and all) are a sweet crispy treat… unless they sit around too long. Once harvested, the sugars in the plant begin to convert into starches, which is how plants store sugars for their future energy needs. It also means that the sweet flavor begins to fade. To slow this conversion, sugar snap peas are best refrigerated immediately after harvest, and best eaten ASAP. Look for them at your farmers’ market in spring and fall and consider consuming them on the spot!

Peas will also lose their sweetness if they are left on the vine too long. So how do you know when is the best time to pick them? The peas in your garden aren’t ready to harvest yet, but our greenhouse peas are just coming into production. Here’s how to pick a perfect pea.

 

Flowering peas

 

How peas emerge from flowers

 

Itty bitties

 

Nope, not yet

 

Patience, grasshopper!

 

Bingo!

The pod should be full, firm, and cylindrical. The peas should fill the pod, but not yet be visible bulges.


Have a gardening question? To submit a question to “Victory Garden Gurus,” email Ginnette at gsimko@countrysidefoodandfarms.org. Ginnette Simko is Countryside’s Farm Manager. Maggie Rivera is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator at OSU-E, Cuyahoga County. She will also provide you an answer to your gardening questions in our next advice column. You can also consult OSU’s Ask an Expert online!