Tired of paying for expensive pea shoots at the grocery store? Good news, they’re really easy to grow at home, even if you don’t have a grow light!
With their sweet and crispy appeal, pea shoots are a fun microgreen to add to any salad, stir fry, or even as a solo snack. While they’re fairly expensive to buy in a grocery store, you can grow your own gourmet pea shoots with a few basic supplies. Best of all, it only takes about a week before your first harvest!
- Potting mix
- Aluminum foil or empty container for cover
- Bricks or pavers
Picking a Container
The first thing we need to talk about is the container you’re going to grow your pea shoots in. Germination trays are excellent containers for growing microgreens like pea shoots, but you can use just about any container with great results. To help illustrate that point, I’ve used a 9.5 cup container that you would find on the shelves of your kitchen or local discount store. Don’t worry about having the “perfect” container, it doesn’t matter that much.
I prefer to use a container with side walls not much taller than 2 inches. Growing microgreens is a fast process, and doesn’t require your substrate (potting mix) to be very deep. If you plan to use a clear container, you will have best results if you paint the container to block light during the early stages of germination.
For optimal results, soak your pea seeds for 3-4 hours prior to planting. Some sources say 24 hours, but I’ve seen no difference in germination that would suggest the need to soak that long. If you forget to soak your seeds before planting, don’t worry they will still grow just fine.
Grow Pea Shoots in 5 Steps
Growing microgreens is ridiculously simple, which is one reason I love doing it! Follow these steps and you’ll be harvesting amazing pea shoots in no time!
Step 1: Add Water to the Container
Before adding potting soil, fill the bottom of the container with water. For the 9.5 cup container in the pictures I used 150mL of water. It doesn’t need to be exact, just add water. The intent is to allow the water to wick up through the potting mix, rather than saturate it all at once. Too much moisture is a no-no.
When I first started growing microgreens I took the time to pH balance the water, but I honestly don’t think it makes much difference unless the pH of your water source is really out of whack. The well water I use is pretty alkaline, and the plants grow just fine.
Step 2: Add Potting Mix
Add your potting mix of choice into the container and allow it to soak up the water. Spread the potting mix evenly throughout the container, & remove any sticks or lumps you find in the mix. After leveling, if the surface of the potting mix is dry, give it a good misting with a spray bottle of water.
How much potting mix should I use?
The amount needed will vary based on the depth of the container you’re using. As a general rule, fill the container to approximately ½”-1” below the top of the container. This will allow you to cut more of the pea shoot stalk when it’s time to harvest.
Step 3: Place Pea Seeds
Spread your pre-soaked pea seeds across the potting mix. Try not to let the peas stack on top of each other. If you’re used to conventional gardening this tight placement of seeds may seem like heresy, but fear not! Microgreens grow best in cramped quarters around other seeds, plus they look really cool. Almost like a miniature, edible bush.
Step 4: Mist the Peas & Lightly Cover
Once you’re happy with the arrangement of your seeds, give them a good misting. After misting, place a thin layer of potting mix over the seeds. Use just enough potting mix that you can’t see the seeds. This will help during the germination process. After covering the seeds, mist the top layer of potting mix with water.
Step 5: Cover the Container
You’re ready to tuck your seeds in for a couple days. Cover the container with an empty seed tray, or aluminum foil if you’re not using seed trays. Once covered, place a brick or concrete paver on the cover. This will help drive the roots down, and develop a strong growing base for your pea shoots. Keep your container out of direct contact with light or sunlight.
Pea Shoot Growing Cycle
Day 1-2: Do not disturb
Day 3-6: Open cover, mist, replace cover
Day 7: Remove cover and weight, place under light to green
Once you’ve covered your pea shoots, don’t bother them for the first two days. There will be enough moisture in the potting mix to keep them happy, and the uninterrupted darkness will improve the germination process.
On the third day, open the cover and mist the soil thoroughly. You will probably be able to see pea sprouts starting to poke through the top layer of soil by this point. Once you’ve misted the soil, place the cover back on the container and weight it down again. Try to limit the amount of time the cover is off the container.
Repeat this daily until the pea shoots have gotten strong enough that they lift the brick/paver off the cover. Once the brick has been lifted, or shifted, by the pea shoots leave it in place for one additional day. This normally happens on day 4 or 5.
Remove the brick and cover, and place the container on a sunny window sill or under a grow light. Within a day or so the pea shoots will straighten up and turn that beautiful green color that signifies they are ready to eat!
How to Harvest Pea Shoots
Harvesting pea shoots is extremely easy. I take a pair of scissors and cut as many pea shoots as I’d like to have for a meal. Harvesting like this keeps your pea shoots fresh as they continue to grow in the container.
If you filled your container to within an inch or so of the top, harvesting is really easy. Simply use scissors to cut in line with the top of the container. This method keeps you from accidently cutting or stabbing the soil and dirtying your scissors.
Pea shoots will stay tender and sweet for 7-10 in the container. After that point they will become more stiff and bitter as they mature. With this in mind, I grow pea shoots in batches that my family consumes in 4-5 days. When one batch is almost ready for the cover to come off, I start another batch. This cycle keeps my family munching on pea shoots continuously.
Best Potting Mix For Pea Shoots
Potting mix plays a few important roles in growing pea shoots, or any microgreen. First, it provides nutrients to the plant. Second, it is a substrate that anchors the root system and provides stability to the growing greens. Finally, potting mix holds moisture that will help your plants thrive.
In terms of the three roles above, the potting mix you select doesn’t matter much. After all, you’re not growing peas to full maturity. Pea shoots will be ready to begin harvesting 7-10 days after initially planted, which means they will not deplete the nutrients in a potting mix.
You’re going to be eating what you grow, so keep that in mind when choosing a potting mix. I personally use two potting mixes for microgreens.
BUSH DOCTOR® COCO LOCO® POTTING MIX
Fox Farm Soil & Fertilizer Co.
I have to admit, I’m not very good at remembering to water my soil grown plants. That’s one huge reason why I grow primarily hydroponically. Coco Loco constantly saves my butt when I forget to water my microgreens for a few days. It has excellent moisture retention, and is an excellent pick if you’re prone to forgetting to add water.
HAPPY FROG® POTTING SOIL
Fox Farm Soil & Fertilizer Co.
Happy Frog is my favorite all-around potting soil. I use it for my self-watering tomato containers, as well as microgreens. Growing tasty pea shoots depends on the rapid development of healthy root systems, which is exactly what this potting soil is designed to support.
Note: The only thing I don’t like about Happy Frog is it has some large particles, so you’ll want to screen it before using it to grow microgreens.
What do Pea Shoot Seeds Look Like?
Pea shoots are grown from, you guessed it, pea seeds. The seeds look just like a dried up pea because, well… that’s exactly what they are!
Where to Buy Pea Shoot Seeds
Due to their popularity, many seed companies offer pea shoot seeds. During the spring you may be able to buy them from your local farm or seed store. I buy almost all my seed from True Leaf Market. They have a massive selection of Non-GMO heirloom seeds. If you’re used to the junk seed you get at the big box stores, do yourself a favor and buy seed from a high-quality source.
I hope this article helped you get on your way to growing some of the tastiest microgreens you’ve ever had! Did I miss anything, did I do an awesome job, do you grow your microgreens a different way? Let me know in the comments!
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