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12. September 2019

Guide: Grow pea shoots indoors

If you want to grow plenty of fresh greens all year round, pea shoots might just be the right choice for you. I grow pea shoots indoors, in a smart plastic container that I make myself. This is how I do it.

Närbild på en plastlåda med massa rötter inuti och gröna ärtskott upptill. Grow pea shoots indoors.

The roots are developing really well in this simple box.

 

A simple sowing of yellow peas every week will give you something fresh to look forward to, even when it's cold and dark outside. Pea shoots is a favorite among many gardeners. It's such a lovely, mild and tasty treat. The shoots are quite voluminous too, so they are really worth the extra work.

We get the best results with larger sowings, as opposed to a single pea here and there. I cut the shoots when I sow, and it takes another few weeks for the shoots to grow again. So, you might as well grow a large batch from the start.

I wanted to show you how to grow pea shoots indoors, by growing them in this smart plastic box.

 

Read more: What I grow in September

 

What are they?

Pea shoots are simply put the first little stalks and leaves that the pea produces. I sow regular yellow peas that you use for pea soup, and I buy them in the supermarket. I decided to add peas to my own seed collection Sow all year round too though (only available to Scandinavian customers at the moment.)

It's very convenient to grow pea shoots indoors since you can harvest each sowing at least twice. They will start to grow back after you cut them the first time.

You can grow pea shoots indoors in a window sill in winter, they are not as sensitive to the cold season as some other vegetables like for example tomatoes, celeriac, and chili.

 

En sådd av ärter sedd ovanifrån med gröna ärter som ligger tätt på jorden. Grow pea shoots indoors, sowing seen from above.

Use yellow or green peas for your sowing. You can, of course, use snow peas or other varieties too, but they are more expensive.

 

What you need:

  • 2 plastic boxes + lids
  • power drill
  • soil
  • yellow peas

 

Instructions:

  • Drill holes in the bottom of one of the boxes, one hole for each corner. Remember that cold plastic breaks quite easily, so try to do this step indoors. The corners of the box are covered with harder plastic, so this part of the box won't break as easily.
  • Put a layer of soil in the box, around two inches (5 centimeters) and flatten. Add more soil if needed.
  • Water the soil directly from the tap and flatten the surface. Leave the box in the sink for a little while.
  • Put the box with the soil inside the other box, which will collect any excess water.
  • Scatter plenty of yellow peas on top of the soil and press down carefully. Make sure that the peas don't lie on top of each other.
  • Put the lid on top of the box (slightly ajar), and put the box in the window sill or under a grow light. Peas germinate when it's slightly cool but grow better in room temperature. Don't forget to water your peas, just make sure that you don't overdo it.
  • After the peas germinate, remove the lid or increase the gap so that the shoots get some air.

 

Note that I don't soak my peas before I sow, it's too much work in my opinion. Watering the soil an extra time before sowing (preferably with warm water) will soak both the peas and the soil all at once.

 

 

Harvest

You can harvest your shoots around 14 days after sowing. It might take longer if the sowing has been in a cool spot and without sufficient sunlight. The shoots should be around 4 inches (10 centimeters) when you harvest them. Don't let them get too tall though, they will lose their crispy texture if they do.

Cut the shoots an inch or so from the ground. Use as a sandwich vegetable or in salads.

The shoots will grow again, and you can start harvesting a few weeks later. Don't forget to water again. You don't need to use any fertilizer though.

You can usually harvest the pea shoots twice, but they might grow a third time with some luck. You can empty the soil in the compost and use the box for a new sowing after that.

 

Pea shoots under a grow light

The pea shoots grow really well under a grow light. You could, for example, put pots and troughs of pea shoots right next to vegetables you already have under a light, if you don't want to get a grow light for this purpose alone.

If you want to grow pea shoots without the extra light, the shoots will grow long and pale. You get all together healthier-looking and tastier plants with the grow light. Leaving the light on for 12-14 hours each day is a good benchmark.

 

En bild på den genomskinliga lådan, med två på höjden, rötter och gröna ärtskott. Grow pea shoots indoors.

The pea shoots are growing really nicely in this box. The box underneath catches all the excess water, so I don't need an extra tray or plate underneath.

 

Common problems

Mold: The soil is too wet. Make sure that the excess water can escape the container. My homemade box works really well. If you decide to grow your pea shoots in a trough, then you might have issues with excess water. Try to lift the trough and put a few pieces of lego between the trough and the tray underneath to create a little space.

If you want to grow pea shoots in troughs without any holes in the bottom, then you need to add plenty of clay pellets or gravel, but it feels like a waste for a simple sowing of peas. Why not make my smart box instead?

Remember that a cool and moist spot will minimize the evaporation from the soil. A warm spot, like for example right above a radiator, will make the soil drier.

 

The sowing is drying out: The soil is too dry. Put a lid on the box or cover it with plastic wrap. Just make sure that the light can get to the peas. The soil might dry out easier if you made the sowing on a very thin layer of soil. Put it in a cool spot, without any heat from underneath. You can spray the sowing from above to help keep it moist too.

 

Only a few of the peas germinate: Something might be wrong with the peas if they fail to grow. They might have been affected if the soil was too wet or dry of course. The peas might germinate at an uneven rate if some of them get pushed up above the others when they start to produce their first little shoot. They generally swell before germinating, which might move them around a bit. The peas that get pushed to the side will grow at a later time, as long as you keep the soil moist.

 

More about pea shoots: Pea shoots in my garden

 

En arrangerad bild med byttor av gröna och röda blad. Grow pea shoots indoors, green and red leaves.

You can grow other vegetables in this smart box too of course! I tried growing lettuce, dill, cabbage leaves, and fava bean shoots.

 

It's actually quite easy to get good results growing pea shoots. Try again if you didn't manage the first time. You can change up the routine a bit too if you want to try something different. Why not get a new trough, or try putting your sowing in a different spot. You can of course also grow pea shoots outside. In early spring, I like to fill up a few troughs in my greenhouse or polytunnel.

Doing it inside is one of my favorite ways to grow pea shoots though. How do you do it? Good luck growing pea shoots at home!
/Sara Bäckmo

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