How to Grow Peas over winter

Plant Spring Peas in the Fall

peas round and wrinkled in a field

Sweet peas and regular peas can be sown in Autumn for a dazzling early floral display and edible harvest come spring. They can still be sown from now until mid November in most regions, further northern climates should do so by late October at the latest.

Some winter protection will help them over the bleakest months, and come early spring they'll be popping up in all their glory. Fresh peas can generally be harvested around the same time other vegetables are just being planted.

Although it may have gone unnoticed by most gardeners, standard pea pods will usually produce two types of peas, round and wrinkled. Wrinkled peas are sweeter , so commercially grown pea varieties are bred for this trait. The wrinkles are caused by higher sugar levels of sugar in wrinkled peas as compared with higher starch levels in rounded ones. While many people favor sweeter peas they are not good for Autumn planting, the rounded ones are best.

Rounded pea seeds are smooth, leaving no place for moisture to collect as they swell in the early stages of germination, so they can be sown in moist cold conditions. Wrinkled seeds have a abundance of nooks, crannies and crevices which hold water and will rot before they sprout unless sown in the spring. You want the pea seeds to lie dormant through winter and sprout as early as possible for a spring harvest.

Hardy varieties are also best. One of the hardiest of the hardy pea varieties is specter, good luck trying to find some though, it is a fairly new breed sold almost exclusively exclusively to commercial growers. Some people prefer dwarf varieties as they are easier to provide shelter for such as floating row cover, cloches, or even old blankets.


Vining peas need trellises to grow on, while dwarf types do not, another plus. Daybreak, Meteor, tendrilla, oasis, are a few varieties. Basically peas that are cold hardy, which is an attribute the seed company will generally list.

Rodents love pea seeds, predominantly mice but at times squirrels. Preventative measures should be taken for fall sown seeds, as they will provide a healthy dose of protein for the non hibernatory wild rodent population over the winter months. Organic mulch provide ideal places for pests to live over winter, if mice are an issue where you live you'll want to use detrrents. Aromatic dry mint is a natural deterrent for rodents, if you have enough to spare. Soaking cotton balls in aromatic mint oil and placing them within the garden is a nifty trick. Dried holly leaves will also deter mice.