Starting Pea Seeds

Technically, pea seeds can be sown directly in the garden, but I like to start mine inside.

I’ll only give them a week or so inside on the warming mat and under the grow lights and then I’ll move them out to the garden. This year, I’m going to try starting the seeds in paper egg cartons. I’ve not done it this way before, but I think it’s worth a shot. The idea is that I can cut the egg carton apart and plant each egg cup without disturbing the roots of the seedling then the egg carton piece will just disintegrate into the garden. Seedlings are very fragile so anything I can do to handle them less sounds like a plan to me!

egg carton planters

I have several packets of pea seeds. Two are shelling peas and the other is snow peas. I try to write down or remember what I planted last year, but I didn’t seem to mark it and I have no idea why I have 2 packets of shelling peas. They’re both at least a couple of years old, so I’m going to plant some of each and hope they come up. First, I soak them in a little water overnight.

pea seeds


It doesn’t really show in the picture, but the peas have definitely plumped up with the water. Soaking isn’t required; however, if you put the peas directly in the soil without soaking, they will first have to absorb water from the soil before they can sprout. Sometimes that can take several days.

soaked up peas

Next, I poke a little hole in each egg cup, about 1/2″ deep. I added a dab of legume inoculant about the size of a pea to each hole. Then drop the peas in, wish them well and cover gently with the soil. I rigged up this grow shelf in my basement. It is an official seed warming mat which stays on 24 hours/day. Don’t use an old heating pad or anything like that, it will get to hot. The lights are just 4-foot fluorescent shop lights. These work fine for starting seeds and are inexpensive both to buy and to keep. I hooked up a light timer to be on for 12 hours a day. Grow, peas! Grow!

grow light setup

In just 2 days I saw one pea starting to sprout (the inoculant works!). In 3 days, several have sprouted!

peas day 2

This picture was taken 6 days after I planted them. 17 of the 27 I planted have sprouted. I had hoped for a higher percentage of sprouts to seeds, but one of the packets of seeds was 6 years old, so *maybe* I was expecting too much of them.

sprouting peas

Perhaps this weekend, I’ll put them out into the garden bed.