How to Grow Pea Shoots

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What you’ll learn:

  • Step by step, how to grow pea shoots
  • What you MUST do to prevent dangerous contamination
  • Why coconut coir, seedlings pads do not work for pea shoots
  • Recipe for simple pea shoots stir fry

We love growing microgreens! They are not only highly nutritious, but also so simple to grow. No garden required. Just a sunny spot anywhere in your house. Of all the microgreens we grow, my favorite has to be pea shoots. I love the delicate, pea-flavored shoots to add to salads, sandwiches, tacos, as a topping for soups — basically anytime I want an extra boost of nutrients.

We also let the pea microgreens grow a little longer, a little taller, and harvest them as “pea shoots,” and stir-fry them Chinese style. Though you can eat the pea shoots raw, in salads, just like microgreens.

A big thank you to Mercola for sending us lots of seeds to play with!

How to grow pea shoots

Step 1: Soak the Pea Shoot Seeds

The first step is to start with good seeds. We use High Mowing Organic Pea Shoots exclusively. They are certified organic, non-GMO.

The seeds need to be soaked in clean, cool water for 8-24 hours. Allow enough water and have a big enough container for the peas to nearly double in size.

Before:

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2 cups pea shoots + 4 cups water for a 10×20 tray.

After:

Pea shoots nearly double in size.

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Step 2: Spread 1-inch thick of organic potting soil into a large tray. We use re-usable 10″x20″ standard plastic seeding tray (called “1020 trays.”) You can use any type of large, shallow tray, even a baking sheet would work, as long as it will hold 1″ of potting soil.

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Growing Medium for Pea Shoots

For our microgreens, we’ve tried:

  • Growing pads (too expensive, non-organic, non-compostable)
  • Micro-Mats (organic, but fall apart too easily when wet, expensive)
  • Coconut Coir (organic, very messy, slow to decompose, may contain high concentration of salt, which is not good for plants)

For pea shoots – the larger, faster growing plants that we grow beyond the “microgreen stage” – we prefer to use potting soil, which includes soil + vermiculite + other organic compost (such as worm castings, compost.) Pea shoots will require the nutrients in soil. They will not thrive in the growing pads or coir.

When growing shoots or microgreens, we always recommend organic, nutrient and microorganism-rich soil.

What you must avoid:

Any soil containing chicken or cow manure, which could lead to very dangerous contamination. Shoots and microgreens are extra-susceptible to contamination – because the parts we eat are so close to the soil and especially in a warm, humid, moist conditions.

The soil we use:

Sprout Doctor Soil Enhancement from Mercor which is:

  1. Sustainable Biochar – Provides inorganic carbon that builds soil and acts as a nearly permanent “sponge” to absorb nutrients and water and creates a friendly home for microorganisms.
  2. Organic Compost – Provides immediate soil food with organic carbon, building soil tilth and humus.
  3. Organic Worm Casings – Provides nutrients, enzymes, and improves soil structure.
  4. Organic Kelp Meal – Adds the slowly dissolving nutritional benefits of ocean plants and helps with nitrogen in the soil.

It’s natural and compostable: After harvesting the pea shoots, the soil added to our garden compost.

After spreading soil:

Drain the water from the seeds. Scatter the seeds evenly and in one layer, all over the tray.

Step 3: Water, Mist and Cover

Water the the sprouts and soil feels damp (not soaking wet.)

Use a second tray and spray the inside of the second tray with water. Place tray upside down on top of first tray to create darkness and humidity.

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Place tray in a warm (70F is ideal), dark place. Every day, spray the second tray and recover – to maintain the humidity. If you live in a colder environment, place try on top of refrigerator (you may want to cover everything with a dark cloth to keep sunlight out), for added heat. Avoid sunlight. We’ve also used a Seedling Heating Mat with great success when the temperature dips too low.

We currently have our pea shoots on a heating mat, as last night, it dipped to freezing here in Florida (rare, but it happens!)

After 2-3 days, the pea shoots will have germinated.

Uncover and move the tray into light, like a windowsill, or outside enclosed patio if the weather is nice and cool. While peas germinate best in warmer environment, peas grow after germination in cooler temperature, below 70F. Try to avoid placing the tray out in the open – as birds and unwanted critters will delight in the treat and possibly contaminate with excrement.

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Step 4: Continue Watering Using Thumb Test

For the next 7-10 days, you’ll water the pea shoots by using the thumb test.

Use your thumb to press against the top of the soil. If your thumb comes off clean and dry, water the peas. If your thumb comes off even slightly moist or with a little soil, you’re good until tomorrow.

Another test is to lift the tray. As you gain experience with growing microgreens and shoots in the container, you’ll be aware of how heavy/light the tray is. Light trays means it probably needs water.

If you are growing on a windowsill, or where there you have light coming in from just one side, you will want to rotate the trays so that the shoots will get sunlight more evenly.

Step 5: Harvest Pea Shoots

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When do you harvest the shoots? Whenever you want to.

You can even harvest them after their first two true leaves appear as microgreens. What’s the difference between cotyledons vs. microgreens?

If you wait a few more days, the pea will begin growing taller and become what we call “pea shoots.” We like to harvest them when they reach between 6″ – 10″ above the soil.

If you peek at the root structure, you’ll see that the pea shoots have taken hold of the soil. If we would have used coconut coir or growing pads, the pea shoots would not thrive in those environments – and would require supplemental feeding. So, you might as well start them in soil to avoid the extra step of feeding.

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To harvest, we use a pair of kitchen shears, and give the pea shoots a “haircut.” We cut 1″-2″ above the seed. We don’t want to bring any of the soil in the harvest. We are very careful to only harvest the tops and not touch the soil or seeds. This reduces any further risk of contamination – like bacteria.

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You’ll get plenty! Our 10″x20″ tray yielded about 2 pounds of pea shoots.

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How to store pea shoots

Store harvested pea shoots in resealable bags in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat. TIP: we do not wash the pea shoots until ready to cook. The extra water from washing will deteriorate the pea shoots faster. Keep the shoots dry. Just use a gallon-sized resealable bag. The pea shoots should stay fresh for over 2 weeks! If you find that there is moisture in the bag, take a single paper towel,

If you’re curious, this is what the root and seed looks like. Strong and healthy, and our flock of hens love picking through the cuttings. Will they grow shoots again? No, not if you’ve cut all of the leaves off of the stems. Perhaps, if you gave a shallow “haircut” to the pea shoots, and only cut off the tips, you might continue to grow pea shoots to harvest another batch. However, we have not tried this.

I would strongly avoid eating the pea next to the root – not only has the nutritional value been sapped already, but it’s been in direct contact with the moist soil.

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We’ve made Chinese Stir Fried Pea Shoots – click here for the recipe. It’s a very simple, delicious way to enjoy pea shoots!

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If you are interested in growing Pea Shoots, Mercola has an entire kit, including the Sprout Doctor Soil for sale here.

We are also giving away a “Grow Microgreens” Kit from Mercola to several lucky winners! Come enter the giveaway here.