from the employee owners at Gardener's Supply Co.

How Do YOU Support Your Peas?

Tall Expandable Pea Trellis

Our Tall Expandable Pea Trellis has eight hinged panels with 8″ grids. Simply zig-zag the panels through your row of peas and push them into the ground (add a stake on each end in windy locations). Total length 9′-3″ by 64″ high installed. Trellises fold for easy off-season storage. Reusable year after year, and they can also support tomatoes as well as cucumbers and other vining crops.

Pea Tunnel

This Pea Tunnel makes the most of tight garden spaces and fits nicely in a 3′ to 4′ raised bed. Plant a row of peas on each side and they’ll climb up and over. In the meantime, plant spinach and salad greens underneath — you’ll be done harvesting the greens by the time the peas are ready.

Most people — me included — find that the toughest part about growing peas is figuring out how to support them properly. In my garden I grow only one type of peas: edible pod peas (rather than shelling peas or snow peas). I eat most of my peas raw rather than cooked, and that’s not something you can do with the other types.

I’ve tried several different varieties of edible pod peas and always come back to sugar snaps. In the fall, I grow the bush variety Sugar Ann, but for my main midsummer crop I find Sugar Snap produces the most peas and has the longest harvest season. The downside is that these plants get very tall, usually topping out at well over 7 feet.

And that gets me back to vegetable supports. It’s critical that you decide how you’re going to support your peas before you plant them. Ideally, you’re ready to put up the trellis the same day you plant your peas. If the weather is right, the seeds will germinate in a matter of days, and baby peas will start searching immediately for something to grab onto. Two things happen if there’s nothing there to grab: their growth will be arrested and they’ll flop over.

Because pea stems are extremely brittle, they often break if you try to bend them up to reach a trellis. The best thing is to have your trellis in place, with the bottom “rung” no more than 2″ above the soil surface.

Remember that peas climb, they don’t twine. At each node along their stems, they generate two or three 1″ long tendrils. These tendrils need to grab and then wind themselves around something that’s less than about a quarter inch in diameter. I have used three different techniques for supporting peas: twine, netting and galvanized fencing.

Twine

Pea tendrils love to grab onto the rough texture of natural jute twine. It’s the most versatile option because you can make your trellis as long and as tall as you wish. Start with three or four rows of twine and add more as the plants grow taller. Be sure to put in twice as many stakes or poles as you think will be necessary. I also find that natural jute twine stretches over time, so string it very tight and be prepared to reinforce as the season progresses.

Netting

I’ve used this polypropylene netting many times and am a huge fan. It’s the perfect height right out of the package (6.5 feet) and is 30 feet long, so I get two years of trellis from one package. The mesh has big, 6″ openings, which is ideal. Just like with twine, you should put in more vertical supports than you think. I have tried bamboo poles and hardwood stakes, but they’re never tall enough. My latest and greatest solution is 8′ tall green metal “T” posts.

Fencing

Our Tall Expandable Pea Trellis is an easy solution. Each trellis has eight hinged panels with big 8″ grids. Simply zig-zag the panels through your row of peas and push them into the ground (add a stake on each end in windy locations). Total length 9′-3″ by 64″ high installed. Trellises fold for easy off-season storage. Reusable year after year, and they can also support tomatoes as well as cucumbers and other vining crops.

-Kathy LaLiberte

6 Comments

  1. April 15, 2010    

    Great ideas, thanks! I used tomato cages last year. For the shorter varieties it worked well. But for my varieties that out grew them.. it was horrible mess..

    thanks again!

  2. Anonymous
    March 2, 2011    

    This is the most useful info I have found from 10’s of sites. I look forward to seeking more knowledge from you and this site!!

    chow4now

  3. April 30, 2012    

    I have a question, my peas are only about 5 inch. Tall and i just found a pod, its about 1 inch long, but is this normal? Or should they be taller to produce?

  4. April 30, 2012    

    That sounds odd; usually the vines need to be taller before they start flowering and producing peas. -David Grist, Gardener’s Supply

  5. Anonymous
    June 18, 2012    

    This is exactly the issue I am encountering. I grow a lot of peas so I want to build long fences with a biodegradable twine, but sisal and jute twine both stretch so much that it is very difficult. Still trying to figure out the solution.

    • Cliff
      June 3, 2014    

      Use small bungie cords at each end of the stake to loop the string over and that will allow the string to stay tensed as it ages and stretches over time.

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