After three years of trying to grow snow peas and pea tendrils, I think I’ve finally figured what works… at least for my garden.
Pea tendrils are the young vines of the snow and snap pea plants. If left alone, they flower and shoot off pods from behind the flower. If you cut them back, you can add them to your salad mix or sauté them like spinach or kale… they have a wonderful pea-flavor, and are the perfect crop for the impatient gardener. As the plants mature, the leaves get tougher, so if you are growing peas for their tendrils be sure to only harvest the new young leaves.
Because my garden is so small, I’ve just grown peas for the tendrils – I could get away with a smaller planting and still get a decent yield. Or so I thought. The first year, I planted 10 seeds, hoping that would give me a decent yield. I got maybe three or four snap peas a day, not even enough for snacking in the garden. The next year, I decided to harvest the tendrils instead, thinking that would give me a better yield. That’s when I discovered that only the young leaves are tender – They look like little buds, a tight cluster of small leaves.
This year, I went on a planting spree – planting in three different locations, in two rows each. The back row had a trellis for the vine to climb up. With the front row I figured it would either crawl up the trellis also, or it would flop over and I would harvest the tendrils to mix in with my lettuces.
With peas growing in so many different configurations in the garden, I learned not only about the peas, but also about my garden.
- The peas that flopped on the ground didn’t produce any tender tendril leaves. The peas that grew up the trellises produced a decent amount of pods.
- The peas that were planted in a planter box, and flopped over the sides, also produced the tendril clusters and the pods, perhaps more than any where else. Despite having a more confined space, the extra sun did them good.
- The front row of pea vines weren’t able to grab onto the trellis that was 6 inches away.
Not that you care about these specific details, but I now know what plots work better for the peas than others. I also discovered a dead zone in the front of the yard where nothing grows well. I have tried several crops there and nothing works. Without a doubt, I know it’s the soil and not the plant variety.
Snow peas cook very quickly – 30 seconds or less until they turn bright green. And with fresh young pods, they don’t require a longer cooking to tenderize them.
Snow Peas with Mint
1 tablespoon butter
¼ pound of snow peas
Salt, pepper and lemon juice
1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the snow peas and cook for 30 seconds, stirring all the while.
3. Remove from heat. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Toss with fresh mint.