How to grow pea shoots

I've been busting to tell you about the quickest, cheapest and easiest-to-grow salad leaf ever – pea shoots!

Pea shoots are simply the young leaves of a pea plant. Normal garden pea plants take months to grow and require more space and effort that my garden and enthusiasm currently allow. But pea shoots take just 2-4 weeks, and with minimal effort you are rewarded with delicate, juicy and tender leaves and tendrils.

home grown pea shoots

I'd seen pea shoots in restaurant dishes or in expensive plastic bags at the supermarket and thought they must be a bit posh. But when the most excellent Alys Fowler recently demystified them on her show The Edible Garden, it looked so foolproof I had to give them a bash. She has red hair and you have to trust your own kind.

You start with a bag of ordinary old dried peas from the supermarket. This 500g bag cost about 60p and I've sowed six batches from it already.

dried marrowfat peas

If you're lucky you might come across these daggy Leo brand dried peas, just like the ones Alys used on her show. These were 51p for 250g so you are paying for the retro packaging.

Leo Dried Peas

Grab a container of choice and some potting compost (potting mix as they call it in Australia. What do you call it in the US? Is it all the same? Help me, proper gardeners! I guess I mean some nice healthy brown stuff? I use peat-free). You're only after the shoots here so you don't need it to be very deep – I use an inch or two.

Now scatter over some dried peas, then lightly cover them with some more compost. Water them gently – don't get too carried away like I did otherwise the peas will float to the top and you'll be cranky.

sow your dried peas

Leave them outdoors or on a sunny window sill. Water them whenever the soil looks a bit dry. If the sun is blasting hot move them into a shadier spot so they don't wilt. Not much of an issue round these parts :)

While you wait for the pea shoots to grow you can observe the loony squirrel across the street that climbs up to a second-floor window ledge then can't figure out how to get down.

stuck squirrel

Honestly he sat there for two hours. At first I thought he was asleep but then I zoomed in on his little face and it was a genuine "how the feck did I get into this mess?" expression. We were just about to head across the street with a ladder when he finally scrambled down.

Squirrel descends

So here's the first batch of pea shoots. I went completely overboard with the dried peas so it was like a pea afro. Once they're an inch or two high you just head outside with your scissors whenever you want a salad and snip off some leaves! Or just stick your face right into the plant and nibble like a rabbit.

Pea afro

They taste best when they're young and crisp – here in Scotland it's taking about two or three weeks. The flavour is delicate and fresh and faintly pea-some. After that the leaves start going a little flimsy.

Uses for pea shoots: Salads (especially when feta is involved!), stir-fries; garnishes for soups. Maybe stick them in those green smoothies. I like just munching a handful of shoots by themselves.

Peas6

Growing pea shoots is so easy and perfect if you're short on space. They grow in pretty much anything – I'm using old yogurt pots and those dishes that mushrooms often come in – just punch some holes in the bottom for drainage.

So if you love your greenery and resent paying £2 for a plastic bag of weeds down the shops, why not give them a go?

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43 thoughts on “How to grow pea shoots

  1. Thanks for this! I’m hopeless in the kitchen AND the garden, but I think that even I could attempt this. :o)

  2. Ohh they look good! You have inspired me to give them a go :)

    And that squirrel is the cutest thing ever. Poor liddle guy.

  3. Definitely going to do this. I don’t suppose it would work with split peas because I’ve got a larder full of those.

  4. shauny, you have inspired me.
    I need to eat more green leafies. I like vegies of the white and orange variety. (potato and pumpkin respectively)

  5. I love this! I’m so going to the store and buying dried peas today. Who knew? Thank you!

    I “rescued” a chipmunk that was stuck in our bird feeder last week. My granddaughter thought I was a hero :)

  6. I am so going home and doing this tonight. I have several jars of different kinds of dried peas in my pantry and several empty containers in the back. All I need is potting soil.

  7. Never heard of eating pea pods but they do look beautiful and very appealing! And I love that kind-hearted you and Dr. G were going to rescue the squirrel – you are so sweet!

  8. My mother might personally send you a thank you note. You are single handedly responsible for making me want to garden again. She’s been trying for years and you had me at bean sprouts.

  9. Yep, called potting soil in the US.

    I def want to try this. They look beautiful and yummy. The only things I’m growing are basil, red peppers, and catnip. I would love to try these.

  10. I LOVE pea shoots with an odd fervour. Yum. May even try this although have only a city balcony with already too many dead plants on.

    love
    Peridot

  11. Definitely giving this a go (I spend way too much on those bags of pea shoots). I guess you could even keep growing these through winter in small pots on a windowsill if it got enough light?

  12. @Cilla – ahh they are the best. especially when roasted. or mashed together with loads of butter :P

    @Gemma – i reckon it would be worth a go, for sure!

    Thank you for your comments everyone and let me know if you try it!

  13. I bought a mini-seeder yesterday (can’t commit to the big ones just yet!), soaked my seeds last night, and HORROR OF HORRORS remembered on my way to work that I forgot my very first rinse! Doi! I sure hope they’re OK…maybe if I read them a bedtime story…

  14. Hi Doll! I found a sweet comment you left for me on my blog 100 Days in Bed and I wanted you to know I’m back to writing there! Hope ur great and will stop by sooooon. xoxoxo

    PS, your blog is fabulous!!!!

  15. Well done you! I have tried this yet, but did try Alys Fowlers (loved the series and now have to book)tip about eating chive flowers and have been telling anyone and everyone who yummy they are!Very onion/chivey. Im crumbling the flowers over salads and they look really cool but I made the mistake of eating a whole one and nearly blew my head off!!!!!
    Must give this a go. Cheers Shauna.
    :O)

  16. Oooooooh… I totally want to try that now. The leaves look nom!

    May have to wait until we’re back from our trip to the States, though.

  17. I could actually do this! It will be a wonderful primer for taking bigger gardening risks on my little balcony. Thank you! (doing the “oh, yes i can” dance – its a little awkward to watch me but my husband promises its endearing:o)

  18. Fabulous! I grow pea shoots too but they are never as splendiferous as your pea afro.

    I’m obviously too stingy with my peas and then one of the chickens always seems to get to them before me

  19. This looks way too good to be true! I love peashoots, who knew it could be this insanely easy to grow them? I will definitely be trying this out, thanks for posting!!

  20. I can’t tell you how much this article means to me! I will be planting some soon. This will be a great start for my new diet. Thanks for the info. I mean who new?

  21. WOW am going to try this.

    Went to my local supermarket (ASDA) and they had the leo peas for 29p for the 250g bag. Dunno if Asda exists in Scotland though!

    Am excited to see if I can get them to grow!

    Rosalyn

    ps being a redhead myself I guffawed at the “trust your own kind” statement.

  22. Have grown a load using old pea seeds left over from the spring sowing (in pots here in spain) Alys Fowler suggested doing so in Gardeners world on the T.V. really easy and cheap ! and something you can grow in the winter!

  23. I grew some in my small heated propagator and was eating them within 5 days,truly delicious.Keep going with the weight loss,I have lost 18lbs so far and it feels wonderful,I bought a 10 kilo bag of potting compost and carried it home,it made me realise how much extra weight I was lugging round!!!

  24. Super easy and yummy! I live in Canada and just planted them not even 2 weeks ago and my daughter and I were munching on them tonight! I think what I’m going to do is replenish the pot as we eat them by always adding a few new dried peas. Hopefully this way we will always have a supply. One thing tho, mine are not as broad leafed as yours so I’m curious if the dried pea makes a difference? The package is written all in Chinese so I have no idea what we’re eating ;)

  25. Glad they worked jassyben! Maybe your dried peas were a different variety, weird! I guess as long as they’re tasty it’s all good :)

  26. To shorten harvest time I first soak the peas overnight in warm water and then drain and rinse two times a day for about three days so the peas start to sprout. I “plant” them when the first little root starts to bust out. It then only takes about one week after planting to harvest!