How to grow pea shoots

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Pea shoots are great for small spaces – they grow fast, taste delicious and are rich in Vitamin C, A and protein. Easy to grow, they’re also perfect to try if you’re starting out. Seeing (and eating!) the fruits of your labour in just in two or three weeks is rewarding and motivating.

Plus, pea shoots are a good choice for a shady spaces or to grow inside over winter  - just sow a stray or two and keep near a bright window.

Here, in simple steps (with video below), is how you can grow them.

How to grow pea shoots

1. Soak the peas in water for 24 hours (dried peas sold for cooking will normally grow fine and are much cheaper than buying seed packets).

Soak the peas in water for 24 hours. This is not essential - but it helps to speed up the process of germination

Soak the peas in water for 24 hours. This is not essential – but it helps to speed up the process of germination

After 24 hours the peas have expanded - and are already looking more alive! They're now ready for sowing

After 24 hours the peas have expanded – and are already looking more alive! They’re now ready for sowing.

2. Select a container 2- 3 inches (6-9 cm) deep. An old tray from a market stall will do fine – just make sure it has holes in the bottom to allow water to drain out. The trays sold in gardening stores for seed growing are about the right size, too.

This tray came from a fruit stall. It used to hold cherries. But any tray 2 - 3 inches deep (deeper is also fine) will do the job. Make sure it has a few holes in the bottom for water to drain out of.

This tray came from a fruit stall. Any tray 2 – 3 inches deep (deeper is also fine) will do the job. Make sure it has a few holes in the bottom for water to drain out of – drill some if needed.

3. Fill your container with compost, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch below the top. It’s always a good idea to use the best quality compost you can find – but having said that, pea shoots are pretty unfussy – and almost any compost seems to be OK.

 

4. Water the compost, then sow the seeds on top of the compost. You can sow them very closer together – I try to leave a gap the size of a pea between each seed. (If you wanted to grow full sized pea plants, you’d sow the seeds further apart. But as we’re only growing shoots, we can get away with close spacing).

Sow the seeds close together - you might want to arrange them more neatly than this! The darker seeds in this picture are ful medames - an Egyptian bean that can be grown in the same way

Sow the seeds close together – you might want to arrange them more neatly than this! The darker seeds in this picture are ful medames – an Egyptian bean that can be grown in the same way.

5. Cover with compost – about the thickness of a pea. Water the surface lightly again.

 

6. That’s it! All you need to do now is keep the compost moist – check it every day in hot weather, every couple of days in cooler weather, and water when needed.

After about a week (longer in cold weather) the pea shoots will begin to emerge!

After about a week (longer in cold weather) the pea shoots will begin to emerge!

 

7. In two to three weeks (a bit longer in cold weather) your crop will have grown 3 – 4 inches tall. YOUR CROP IS NOW READY TO EAT! Harvest by pinching off each shoot just above the bottom leaves. Some of the pea shoots will regrow again giving you a second harvest.

And after two or three weeks they'll be ready to eat! You can normally harvest pea shoots off a box like this over a week or two. And you'll get about half a pound (quarter of a kilo) off each box!

And after two or three weeks they’ll be ready to eat! You can normally harvest pea shoots off a box like this over a week or two. And you’ll get about half a pound (quarter of a kilo) off each box!

 

8. When the crop has finished, put the roots in your wormery or compost heap if you have one. Worms seem to like them very much!

 

Interested to learn more about how to grow a wide range of shoots and sprouts productively? Check out the Vertical Veg Club which includes an hour of videos with tips and tricks on how to grow a wide variety of sprouts and shoots.

 

Here’s a video on how to do it.

18 comments… add one

  • I started growing sweet peas in a bucket with a tomato cage for them to grow up. When I started i didn’t know that they can be eaten, my poodles and min pin kept biting off leaves so I took a few and tried them, yumo, I use in salads and as lettuce on sandwiches and with chopped tomatoes to top tacos. I was looking for more recipes to use them today. I give the dogs some everyday, it stops the eating of grass in the yard. I’m going to grow some in my kitchen window this fall so I can have them for the dogs over the winter.

    Reply
    • Hi Leslie, I’m not sure sweet peas are edible. I’d recommend you research it further as it’s my understanding that the seeds, at least are poisonous. Mark

      Reply
  • I don’t have compost or a wormery, what kind of bagged soil should I buy to grow these? thanks :)

    Reply
    • Hi Shirley
      Good question. Luckily pea shoots seem to be quite unfussy about what you grown them in. Any bag of multipurpose or general purpose compost from your local gardening store should be absolutely fine. You might find an organic mix for vegetable growing but any general purpose will be fine. Does that help? Any other questions, please drop me a line.

      Very best of luck for your pea shoot project! Do come back and let us know how it goes.
      Mark

      Reply
  • Hi mark…is sugar peas the same as the pea shoot? I was excited cuz I just had a few sprouts sugar peas and I was ready to transplant them. I thought they grow as vines so I had these tent like poles and on containers. Then I saw this post of yours about pea shoots. And timely I also just had a raised bed made which is ideal. But the problem is where do I get pea shoots seeds. I don’t think I ever seen those where I live. Unless it is the same as sugar peas. Thanks.

    Chit

    Reply
  • Hi Mark
    Can you tell me where I can the municipal compost you used in Newcastle upon Tyne
    Thanks
    Malcolm Frame

    Reply
    • Hi Malcolm, I got it from the Walbottle recycling centre: Walbottle Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 8HY. It wasn’t fantastic quality, I have to say, but worth a try. If you use it, I’d be really interested if you could let me know how you get on.

      Reply
  • Hi Mark,
    I followed your instructions, including feeding the roots to the worms, and you are right, they do seem to love them, there are lots of healthy wriggly worms in amongst the roots! The problem is that the peas don’t seem to know they have been composted, and are determined to keep on growing. I have broken them up a couple of times, but I just came back from a couple of weeks away and they were pushing the lid up. Is there any way to stop them taking over the wormery altogether?! I have the same issue with carrot and parsnip tops but at least they don’t grow as fast.

    Reply
    • Hi Kate! Without light the peas will not be able to live for long. Perhaps bury them a bit further under a layer of worm compost – that should speed their demise – they’ll also decompose faster if sandwiched between two layers of worm compost. Pleased to hear your worms are also enjoying the roots :) Mark

      Reply
  • I’ve put peas in the tomato pots in the greenhouse after removing the tomato plants.
    They’re coming up well and I’ll be cutting them soon I hope!

    Reply
  • And there we have it! A trifle dish of peas! Give me a few weeks and we’ll see where we’re at!

    Reply
    • Great success, grew to a height of about 25cm without becoming chewy (trick of the east facing window!) and have now eaten pretty much all of them. Used some left over peas from the ones I grew this summer, originally grown from a pack of ‘Carouby de Maussane’.Thanks for the advice, gonna be doing this again!

      Reply
      • Great stuff, Danny, thanks for letting us know!

        Reply
  • Thanks a lot for the tip to get dried pea and bean seeds from the food store. Now, I’m keen on growing my own pea shoots.

    Best, Pascal

    Reply
    • Yes do try them, they should work. IN my experience shop bought peas and ful medames germinate really well – but you’ll need to try a sample with an open mind! Unlike seeds you buy in seed packets there is no requirement for any minimum percentage to germinate. Experiment with a few and see what happens.

      Reply
      • Good point re the rate of germinating seeds. I’ll simply try and see how my current choice of peas and beans works out – and let you know ;-)
        Next time I stop by an Asian food store, I’ll also have a look round for ful medames.

        Reply
  • Thank you Mark, thought the video was super useful.
    Can you tell me if you would replant in the same compost once you have harvested everything. Or what do you do with the compost used?

    Reply
    • You can re-use the compost as long as you add back in some of the nutrients the peas take out. If you’ve got a wormery, a handful or two of worm compost does wonders. Or a small handful of chicken manure pellets is good if you will be reusing the compost to grow leafy greens. It’s difficult to give a short concise answer as there are lots of variables. Experimentation and observation is really the key. (Incidentally, I did a post on re-using compost here: http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/can-you-re-use-compost/)

      Reply

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