26. January 2021

Growing Snow Peas in Winter

Tired of winter? Why not start the growing season early by sowing snow peas in your greenhouse or polytunnel!

Snow peas in a blue barrel.

Why not try growing snow peas in winter? I can harvest the winter sowings I did in my greenhouse already in May.


My polytunnel doesn't look like much now in the end of January. But looks can be deceiving! This is actually a great time and place to start preparing for the new growing season. I have new winter sowings in the soil, just waiting for the first rays of February sun. The picture above might give you an idea of what I'm hoping for this year.

It can get quite warm inside my polytunnel even here in zone 3. Around 68 degrees (20 degrees Celsius.) The heat leaves the air quickly as soon as the sun sets, but some of it stays in the soil. You can keep the soil warm for another day or two by adding a simple row cover on top. The seeds can germinate and start growing very quickly if I pick the right varieties.


Read more: Winter sowings for beginners


Growing snow peas in winter

This is what my polytunnel looked like right after sowing in late January. I sowed the snow peas in the little miniature greenhouse on the left and added a layer of grass clippings and snow on top.


Snow Peas in Cold Soil

Snow peas have quite hardy seeds that germinate even in near-freezing soil. Some say that 41 degrees (5 degrees Celsius) is the cut-off point for germination. The new little seedling does really well in the cold too and can easily deal with a few nights of frost without a row cover.

I always sow a few rows of snow peas in my polytunnel in January/February. They usually germinate at the end of February/beginning of March, and then I can start harvesting in May. It's just amazing to start my early summer with fresh snow peas in the polytunnel.

One of the best things about growing snow peas in winter is how much my kids love it. These early snow peas get them out of the house on scavenger hunts, inspires them to play outside and taste other fresh vegetables from the garden. It's wonderful! Of course, I love eating them too.


Read more: How to grow snow peas in pots


The Sowing:

  • pick a spot where the snow peas won't shade other plants, access to daylight is so important and you don't want your smaller vegetables to suffer
  • make little holes in the soil, preferably in double rows and slightly deeper than regular (2-4 inches, around 5-7 cm), and put two to three seeds in each hole
  • push the soil back on top and add some airy mulch over it
  • water your soil carefully when it gets a little warmer outside, or scatter some snow on your sowing every now and then
  • protect the sowing with a layer or two of row cover if it gets very cold outside


Snow peas growing from the ground.

Winter sowings of snow peas in early March 2019. A great head start compared to sowing the seeds outside. This particular spring vas very cold and a lot of plants just froze. But what about the peas?


Sockerärtsplantor växer mot ett ris.

The plants were growing tall by April and I decided to give them a trellis to climb on. Can you see the butterfly?


Pea plants with flowers.

Plenty of flowers in April. The snow peas did just fine in a cold but sheltered spot in my polytunnel.


En liten barnhand nyper en ärta av en planta.

We harvested plenty of snow peas in May, 2019. I remember that it was unseasonably cold this spring. Our peach flowers and some of the vegetables in the garden were ruined when we had 17 degrees (-8 degrees Celsius) a few nights in late May, even in the polytunnel. But the snow peas survived and kept on growing!



There are so many different types of snow peas out there. Some very tall varieties, others are low-growing. With large or smaller pods, more or less hardy and resilient.

Norli is one of my favorite varieties to winter sow. The plants grow fast, bolt quickly and develop plenty of small but delicious pods. Norli is one of my favorite fast-growing tall varieties.

Read more: Tips for beginners - Harvest snow peas often


Tall pea plant in a polytunnel.

You can sow tall snow pea varieties in winter too, but then you usually have to wait a bit longer before you can start harvesting. Here we have a taller variety in June 2016. I often grow snow peas in this spot. My daughter Alba is 4 in this picture and loves to munch on my homegrown snow peas.


It's unseasonably warm. A bit too warm for my liking. I already did two sowings of snow peas in my polytunnel, despite the temperature. Previous years have been a lot colder around this time, and then I just sow whenever the soil is reasonably thawed. It's ok if it gets colder and freezes later. Just make sure to protect your seeds properly with mulch or row cover so that the seeds don't rot. Good luck!


More: Grow snow peas in a plug tray


/Sara Bäckmo

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