Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; email@example.com
Pea shoots are the young, tender tips of pea vines that are eaten fresh in salads, stir-fried, or used as a garnish. Pea shoots are 2–6 inches long with 2 to 4 pairs of leaves and immature tendrils and may also include flower buds and blossoms. They have a mild “pea pod” flavor and crisp texture. They are sold in local markets and have a short shelf-life.
Snap and snow pea varieties are commonly used for shoots. In addition, cover crop winter field peas, Canadian or Spring field peas, and taller fresh market green peas may also be used for shoots. Special pea varieties with many tendrils such as the “Parsley” pea have been selected for shoot production. Plant in the field in the spring when soil conditions are favorable in March. “Dual purpose” (shoot and pod harvest) plantings may also be made. Peas thrive in cool weather and can tolerate light frost. Seed 80-120 lbs/A (25 seeds per ft in a band) in 30-36 inch rows. Sow at a depth of no more than 1 inch.
Follow fertility and pest management recommendations as for peas in the Mid Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations https://www.udel.edu/content/dam/udelImages/canr/pdfs/extension/sustainable-agriculture/BFP_2022-2023_Peas.pdf
When plants are 8-12 inches tall, clip off the growing points plus one pair of leaves to encourage branching. These clippings can be used as a first harvest. Keep clipping the top 2-6 inches of each plant after regrowth, every 3-4 weeks. Harvested shoots should include the top pair of small leaves, delicate tendrils and a few larger leaves and blossoms or immature buds. Select undamaged, fresh, succulent, crisp, and bright green shoots. Harvest a planting until shoots begin to taste bitter.
Pea shoots for fall harvest are planted mid to late summer and harvested until a hard freeze. Shoots may also be grown in high tunnels throughout the fall, winter, and early spring.
Pea shoots have a short storage life and should be marketed within 2 days after harvest. Rapidly precool shoots to 32°F, and store at 32-34°F (0-1°C) and 98-100% relative humidity. Freezing will damage leaf tissues, so maintain storage temperatures above 28°F (-2°C)
Pea shoots are a quick (24 days to harvest) and inexpensive crop to grow with high value. They are a favorite of chefs in restaurants and are a popular item for farmers market sales and CSAs.
A fact sheet on pea shoot production from Washington State can be found at http://pubs.cahnrs.wsu.edu/publications/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/publications/PNW567.pdf