If you’ve been following our series on microgreens, you probably have a good grasp on growing plants small-scale. In this article, however, we’re going to focus on how to grow pea microgreens, which go against most of the rules. Don’t worry though, growing pea shoots is still fairly easy – and tasty!
Pea microgreens taste much like full-grown peas and are known for being sweet, like snow peas. They’re full of vitamins that are anti-inflammatory and boost cardiovascular health. Pea microgreens have also been linked to weight loss, which is largely thanks to their fiber content (fiber is known to keep you full for longer).
Pea seeds grow in stages, which we have to pay attention to while growing microgreens. The first is just after germination when the pea seeds sprout. Some gardeners harvest pea sprouts, but we’re after the next stage. The sprouts anchor roots and send up a lanky stem that’s topped with cotyledons. These baby leaves are exactly what we’re after when we grow microgreens.
When it comes to peas, you can let them grow past the microgreen stage into pea shoots. Growing pea shoots only takes a couple more days and keeps the health benefits. The flavor may differ slightly, but pea shoots have a texture microgreens don’t: the tendrils.
Whether to plan to grow pea shoots or micro greens, we’ll make sure to get you there. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about growing pea shoots and the like.
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Growing Pea Microgreens
We may be deviating from the typical steps to grow microgreens, but the supplies remain the same. Once you’ve gathered these materials, you can reuse them to grow pea shoots again or any other type of microgreens (we don’t recommend reusing the soil though).
- Seeds: choose good-quality seeds like our favorites from True Leaf Market (listed below)
- Containers: grow pea shoots in shallow grow trays
- Growing medium: use a fine-grained soil, like Espoma seed starting mix or coconut coir
- Light: we’re in love with the Agrobrite T5, as featured in our grow light guide
- Scissors or shears: kitchen shears work great for pea shoots
- Misting bottle
- Large bowl
We’re big fans of True Leaf Market’s microgreens seeds, as they’re a high-quality grade of seed and germinate very well! Here’s some of our favorite pea types:
- Dun Peas
- Organic Dundale Dun Peas
- Dwarf Sugar Grey Snow Peas
- Early Frosty Peas
- Organic Green Peas
- Green Arrow Peas
- Lincoln Peas
- Little Marvel Peas
- Mammoth Melting Sugar Pod Snow Peas
- Organic Speckled Peas
- Tendril Peas
- Thomas Laxton Peas
- Organic Yellow Peas
There are lots of different pea seed varieties. When grown as pea microgreens though, they all are relatively the same. Snow, snap, or sweet, you can choose just about any pea seeds.
The growing trays are where we get a bit picky. You’ll need at least 3 of them, one with drainage holes and two without. The tray with drainage holes will be filled with soil and seed while the others are used for watering and germination.
You can opt to use sunlight for your pea microgreens but artificial lighting has proven to be more effective here. Not only can you grow the pea microgreens inside, they will also be more uniform and compact.
Our guide to growing microgreens starts right off with a deviation. Most microgreen seeds don’t have to be soaked before planting, mainly because they’re so small. Pea seeds, however, are larger to begin with and also must absorb water before they germinate and grow.
Fill your large bowl with water and dump in the seeds. Leave them in there for at least 6-12 hours and no more than 24. The longer they stay, the more evenly the pea seeds should germinate.
As the pea seeds soak, they expand to double their size. You’ll probably need to refill the water at least once. In fact, you may even need to move some seed to a separate bowl! Once the seeds are plump with water, drain the bowl and give the seeds a good rinse.
Now that your pea seeds are soaked and rinsed, it’s time to grow pea shoots! Grab your grow tray and fill it ¾ full with potting soil. Tamp down the soil surface so it’s as smooth as possible. Now, spread the pea seeds evenly across the top of the soil (it’ll look like a little green pebble garden!).
Peas grow deep roots, but can sometimes push themselves out of the soil if not grounded. You can see how this could be a problem with typical microgreen growing. So, instead of leaving the pea seeds bare, we’ll cover them with a thin layer of soil. Lightly firm down that soil layer as well. Keep the soil and seeds moist by misting it with the spray bottle.
They may be covered with soil, but the pea seeds still need a cover for optimal germination lighting. This is also important because of the weight, which will encourage healthy roots. When the pea microgreens grow, they’ll collectively push up the cover and about 5 pounds of weight.
In 3-4 days, remove the cover and take a peek. Your pea seeds should have transformed into inch-long pea sprouts. They may be pale in color, but they’ll quickly turn green once they get some light.
Mist the pea sprouts to wash off any soil and begin to bottom water. Whenever the growing medium is dry, simply fill the watering tray with a few inches and set the grow tray inside it. After the soil has taken its fill, take the tray out – we don’t want the pea microgreens to get waterlogged. Repeat this when the tray feels light, which may be every few days or even twice a day.
As your sprouts turn into pea microgreens, leave the cover off and flip on the grow light. Give your micro greens at least 12 hours of light each day. It’s best to grow the pea shoots directly beneath the light. This will result in healthy, uniform pea micro greens.
Here’s where you’ll get a bit of free reign over the pea microgreens. You can choose to harvest them as micro greens or wait a few more days for the growing plants to grow shoots. Growing pea shoots means letting the first few true leaves and tendrils appear. Of course, you can always harvest a portion of pea microgreens and leave the rest to grow pea shoots.
If you decide to harvest pea micro greens, wait until they’re 3-4 inches tall and grow their cotyledons (about 3-5 days after sprouting). Then, use your kitchen shears to snip off the microgreens just above the top of the soil. To harvest pea shoots, cut off the top portion, but leave behind a couple leaves. These will make it much easier for the pea shoot to regrow.
Hold off on washing the pea microgreens until you’re just about to use them. We need these peas as dry as possible for good storage. For those not being used, place them in an airtight container with a paper towel folded inside. The towel will absorb any excess moisture from the peas. With this method, your pea microgreens should last for at least a week – maybe more!
Add the pea microgreens raw to salads, sandwiches, or anything that needs a sweet, pea shoot taste. Pea microgreens are excellent in stir fry, but should be added at the very end to preserve their crunch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you eat pea microgreens?
A: Eat pea microgreens raw as a garnish to sandwiches, salads, stir fry, or whatever else you can think up!
Q: What do pea microgreens taste like?
A: Pea microgreens are sweet and taste a bit like full-grown peas. A pea shoot has a similar, but slightly different flavor.
Q: Are pea sprouts good for you?
A: Definitely! Peas, whether grown as sprouts, microgreens, or a pea shoot, are full of vitamins (iron, protein, vitamin c, you name it!). Their health benefits have also been linked to help with cardiovascular health, inflammation, and weight loss.