Pea shoots are a quick-growing crop suited to tiny spaces either outside in the ground or pots, or indoors on a windowsill. Pea shoots are nutritious, with good levels of vitamins A, B6, E and K, and are particularly high in vitamin C.
What are pea shoots?
Pea shoots are the tender young growing tips of pea plants, comprising the shoots and the thin twining tendrils. Growing peas for shoots is different to growing actual peas: pea shoots take up very little space and are ready to harvest in two to three weeks, while pea pods take around three months to develop. Pea shoots can be grown indoors or outdoors, while plants for pea pods can be grown outdoors only. What’s more, you can grow pea shoots at any time of year indoors, while pea pods can be grown only during spring and summer, outdoors.
How to grow pea shoots
Bear in mind that it’s not a good idea to harvest shoots from plants grown for peas as this can weaken the plants and delay the production of pea pods.
For growing pea shoots, you can either buy large packs of pea seeds, or simply rehydrate dried peas sold for eating – simply soak them in water for 24 hours before sowing.
You can grow pea shoots in the ground in well-prepared, weed-free soil, or in pots. If growing pea shoots in the ground, use a rake or draw hoe to make a shallow trench 15-20cm wide and 8-10cm deep. If growing in pots, choose a wide, shallow container around 8-10cm deep. This can include a deep seed tray, old mushroom punnet or strawberry box, but do ensure there are drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the tray to two-thirds deep with peat-free potting compost, and firm gently.
- Water the soil or potting compost well, and leave to drain
- Spread the peas over the surface, with a centimetre or so between each pea – there’s no need to be too exact
Cover with a 1-2cm layer of compost or soil and lightly water
- Then simply water as needed to keep the compost or soil moist. As your pea shoots appear and start growing strongly, water more frequently
- Within two or three weeks, the pea shoots will be ready to harvest. You may get two or even three harvests from one crop of peas. Keep making new sowings every couple of weeks for a continuous harvest
Harvesting pea shoots
Pea shoots are ready to harvest when the young plants are around 10-15 cm tall. Use scissors, or your finger and thumb, to pinch or cut the shoots back to just above the first pair of leaves. Don’t allow the shoots to get too tall as they will become fibrous and chewy.
What to eat pea shoots with
Eat pea shoots raw, in salads and sandwiches, or cooked, in stir-fries, or steamed and serve as a side vegetable.