Before they are full grown plants, pea shoots are a nutritious, leafy green to add to almost any of your favorite recipes. Extremely versatile, enjoy them in salads, sandwiches, soups, and stir-fries, use them for a pizza topping, or serve as an edible garnish.
Botanical Name: Pisum sativum
Days to Maturity: 10–20 days
Native: Western Asia, Europe, and North Africa
Hardiness: Frost-tolerant annual
Variety Information: Young, tender leaves and tendrils harvested at 3"–4" tall. Almost any type of garden pea can be grown for its young shoots. According to Japanese research, raw pea shoots contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-6. In addition, they add fiber and contain carotenes, pigments that are high in antioxidants which have a role in protecting cells from damage. Researchers are also studying the phytochemicals found in pea shoots and think they may have a role in preventing cancer.
When to Sow Outside: 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date, when soil temperature is at least 40°F, ideally 60°–80°F. Successive Sowings: Every 2 weeks until 2 weeks before the first fall frost.
When to Start Inside: RECOMMENDED. Sow indoors any time of year, with indoor temperatures 60°–75°F. Successive Sowings: Every 2 weeks for a continual supply.
Days to Emerge: 5–10 days
Seed Depth: ½"
Seed Spacing: 1"
Thinning: Not required.
Harvesting: When seedlings emerge, the first pair of leaves to show are the cotyledons, which can look very different from the leaves that follow, called "true" leaves. Pea for Shoots baby greens are ready to harvest 10 to 20 days after sowing, when they have true leaves, at 2"–4". Slow growers, or cool growing temperatures may require more time. Harvest by cutting just above the soil line. For more than one harvest (up to 3 before flavor declines) leave about 1/2" of leafy growth on the small plants so they can regenerate.