Pea plants climb using tendrils that wrap around supports and hoist stems upward. While you don’t have to give peas a trellis, it is easier to find and pick pods when plants are supported and upright. As with most edible crops, for the best bite you want to harvest peas when they’re young. Old shelling peas become mealy and starchy (less sweet) if they enlarge too much on the plant. For mature snow peas and sugar snap peas, pods become woody and tough to chew if they’re left on the vine too long. For sugar snap peas, if pods are tough, you can often shell the peas and just eat those.
All parts of a pea plant are edible, including blossoms, shoots, tendrils and pods. Young shoots taste the best, while older ones tend to be tough and stringy. Pea shoots and blooms make a beautiful addition to spring salads and stir-fries. Many chefs use young pea plants to make pea stock or even ice cream. If you’re growing peas for shoots, harvest micro-greens when plants are 2-4 inches tall (roughly 2 weeks) and snap greens when plants are 4-8 inches tall (roughly 2-4 weeks). This pink-flowered variety is a snow pea known as ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar.’ Vines aren’t dwarf, though, growing 4 to 5 feet tall.
Garden or shelling peas are super easy to grow and bring a lot of nutrition to the dinner table. Peas contain nearly every vitamin and mineral you need and are a low glycemic index veggie, helping to stabilize blood glucose. Packed with fiber, they also make you feel full longer. The trickiest part of growing garden peas is knowing when to harvest. Pods should be full and firm to the touch, which is a clue the peas are fully formed. If the pod is soft and the sides press in easily, the peas haven’t yet filled out. This variety is ‘Feisty,’ which is a tendril or afila type of pea. The vines produce more tendrils than leaves. With fewer leaves, pods are easy to spot and pick. The tendrils are edible and make a beautiful garnish or salad green.
The shoots of sugar snap peas make a fantastic addition to salads and sandwiches. They offer a taste that has a hint of pea, but then a green flavor that’s purely pea shoot and delicious. To harvest shoots, pinch stems just above the second set of leaves. Vine tips, leaves, stems, blooms and tendrils are all edible. You can also eat the shoots of other edible peas—just avoid flowering sweet pea shoots.
Shrubs and trees planted too close to your house can trap moisture, damage siding when the wind blows, and fill gutters with debris. “I want to be able to walk behind shrubs — they need to be at least three feet from the house and from air conditioning units because they block airflow,” says Steve Gladstone, owner of Stonehollow Fine Home Inspection in Stamford, Conn. “With trees, you don’t want them rubbing against the house at all. If the sun can’t dry your house, you’ll have to repaint more often because mold and pollen will build up.” Prune regularly to keep your house envelope clear.
Climbing vines like ivy, although beautiful, can splinter and rot wood siding and even weaken the mortar between bricks. Prune any existing ivy so that it stays away from windows, gutters and trim. If your heart is set on adding a climbing vine, choose a twining vine that wraps around a trellis or other nearby structure rather than a vine that climbs by tendrils or rootlets that cling to the surface of your house.