How to Grow Peas as Quick Harvest Greens (and Use Up Old Seed Packets)

I am a seed hoarder. I still have packets from 2000 in my seed box because they might germinate whenever I get around to planting them. I don’t like to take risks with my vegetables though, so I make sure to have a fresh seed supply.

Peas are not great seeds to save, the older they get the less vigor they have (if they germinate at all). I use up my old sugar and snow pea seeds as quick, space-saving salad greens.

Photo Caption: Pea greens take up almost no space in the garden and you can get multiple harvests out of each plot. I use the pansies in this photo as edible garnishes.

It’s so simple! Scrape the soil away (about an inch deep) from one square foot of garden space, pour in the remains of last year’s packet of snow/sugar snap peas, smooth the seeds out evenly over the soil surface, cover it back up with soil, and water. Even if you were late getting your snow and sugar snap peas in as a regular crop or your garden is mostly shaded you can still grow them as greens. It takes less than a month to start harvesting pea tendrils!

If you don’t have leftover pea seeds you can get a cheap ounce or two from your local feed and seed.

Photo Caption: This is approximately the size to harvest at. This one was photographed with grape hyacinth, rue anemones, and species tulips.

Harvest when they are 7″ – 12″ tall just above the first set of leaves (cut about 2″ to 3″  above the ground) and they will keep growing for a succession of harvests. Eventually they get too tough to eat and you can dig them in as an extra fertilizer for nearby plants.

They taste fantastic — like sugar snap and snow peas but a little greener. Use it as a substitute in any recipe that calls for edible pod peas or lettuce. I like them raw but you can also serve them wilted.

They’re excellent on top of any spring salad! I also like to put them on top of pasta after everything is cooked and plated.

Easy Pea Tendril Pasta:

  • Your favorite pasta (lightweight noodles or penne types recommended)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, minced
  • Pea tendrils
  • Optional fresh Parmesan, grated
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Boil and strain your pasta to package instructions
  2. Toss in lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, & optional Parmesan
  3. Put handfuls of pea tendrils on top and add salt & pepper

Eliza Lord

I'm a Greenville, SC native (the Appalachian foothills) who wears the hats of Greenville Master Gardener & Upstate Master Naturalist. I love to write about food and sustainability.

10 thoughts on “How to Grow Peas as Quick Harvest Greens (and Use Up Old Seed Packets)”

  1. keewee - April 7, 2010 11:17 am

    That is a good idea. I have some old seeds I can use in this way. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - April 7, 2010 8:23 pm

      You’re welcome, I hope you enjoy the pea greens. :)
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Grow Peas as Quick Harvest Greens (and Use Up Old Seed Packets) =-.

      Reply
  2. Lisa - April 7, 2010 12:11 pm

    Yummy! I can’t figure why my peas haven’t flowered…
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Completely Enchanting! =-.

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - April 7, 2010 8:29 pm

      Oh no! Maybe too much nitrogen in the soil? Sometimes that gets them too focused on leaf-making.
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Grow Peas as Quick Harvest Greens (and Use Up Old Seed Packets) =-.

      Reply
  3. Nancy Bond - April 7, 2010 10:43 pm

    What a great idea, and your recipe sounds delicious!
    .-= Nancy Bond´s last blog ..It’s Not Easy Being Green: A Different Perspective =-.

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - April 30, 2010 11:53 am

      Thanks! :)
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Identify Eastern and Forest Tent Caterpillars =-.

      Reply
  4. Meredith - April 8, 2010 8:43 pm

    Oh, I want to try this, but I’m not having much luck with the peas so far… my first year growing them, and I suspect I planted way too early with the cold as bad as it was. I was still following Clemson’s schedule for the area, since I’m not exactly local and cannot depend on my own knowledge of the conditions. Still, I suppose I might clear a little spot for some greens-only peas. You are full of such luscious ideas!
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..the volunteers =-.

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - April 30, 2010 11:54 am

      Maybe a critter ate your pea seeds… although if you got them in very early it may have just been the weather. Sometimes they are very slow to emerge, though.
      .-= Sustainahillbilly´s last blog ..How to Identify Eastern and Forest Tent Caterpillars =-.

      Reply
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