With enough sun, water and love, apartment balconies can be the perfect small-space gardens. We'll show you how to grow sugar snap peas in pots on your balcony.
Sugar snap peas are fresh, sweet and crunchy. The pea and the pod are both eaten together and they can be boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw. Sugar snap peas are really easy to grow, even if you have a limited amount of space and gardening expertise.
This little green vegetable has a range of nutritious benefits. They are full of vitamins such as vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining a strong immune system and repairing your body after an injury. Sugar snap peas are also full of vitamins A, K, iron and fiber — the latter reducing heart problems and weight gain due to their low calorie content.
You don’t need to be an expert gardener to grow sugar snap peas on your balcony. We’ll show you what materials you need and how to get your collection to thrive.
What You Need to Grow Sugar Snap Peas on Your Balcony
You only need a few things to set up your sugar snap peas — the most important being location. A balcony filled with sunlight is the best option as they need about six hours of sunlight during the day. Head to your local garden center to purchase the following items.
- Organic sugar snap pea seeds — If this is your first attempt to grow sugar snap peas, buy some seeds to get you started, such as the Heirloom Organic range from Purely Organic (available on Amazon**). When you have your own sugar snap pea plants you can harvest their seeds in the future by letting them mature on the vine (this takes about four weeks after they are suitable for eating). The peas inside will make a rattling sound when the pod is shaken. Remove the seeds from the pods, let them dry out, and store them in an airtight container in a dark, dry area.
- Organic potting mix or compost — It is best not to use backyard soil. Instead, buy a well-draining potting mix such as Organic Potting Mix by Perfect Plants, available on Amazon**, or make your own with compost. Sugar snap peas grow well in neutral to slightly acidic soils.
- Organic fertilizer — Sugar snap peas produce nitrogen from their roots, improving the soil’s nutrition level. However, potted plants still need some extra fertilizer to get started, such as Espoma Organic Garden Tone, available on Amazon**, or you could use eggshells as fertilizer.
- Large container — Your pot needs to be around 12 inches deep, with a drainage container underneath to catch moisture, and fairly wide, such as a bucket or a window box. There are now many eco-friendly pots available, such as from Elho (available on Amazon**), which uses recycled materials to make its pots in a factory that generates its own renewable energy from wind turbines, and Wild Pact cork plant pots (available on Amazon**), which are biodegradable.
- Trellis — Sugar snap peas are climbers, so will need to be supported as they grow. The simplest option is to use three bamboo stakes (available on Amazon**) and make them into a kind of triangle or pyramid shape and tie them with natural twine at the top. It is better to do this while the plants are still young, to avoid damaging the roots.
How to Grow Sugar Snap Peas on Your Apartment Balcony
The best time to plant sugar snap peas is in early spring; they grow well in cool weather (between 45 – 80°F) and will finish fruiting by mid-July (depending on the local climate). If there is a cold snap, bring the pot inside or cover using a mini greenhouse (available on Amazon**). Follow these steps to plant sugar snap peas on your balcony.
- Fill your container with potting mix or compost — Fill your eco-friendly container with organic potting mix or compost, leaving a space of about two inches at the top and ensuring that you have a drainage container underneath.
- Add organic fertilizer — Do this before adding the seeds and follow the instructions on the packet to ensure you use the correct amount. Fertilizing just once may be enough, or you may also choose to fertilize again after two or three weeks when the young plants are getting established.
- Sow the seeds — Place them around the edge of the container, one inch from the edge and with two inches between each one. Push them one inch into the soil and gently cover them with soil.
- Add your trellis — Do this now to avoid damaging any roots later.
- Water — Giving enough water to your sugar snap peas is the key to ensuring they thrive. To do this, use a watering can to ensure that the soil is always a little moist but not soggy. Don’t overwater. Keep the top of the soil slightly damp — wilting is a sign of dryness.
- Harvest — In about two weeks, the sugar snap pea seedlings begin to grow. After two months, they will be fully established and produce delicious, crunchy sugar snap peas. To check that they are ready to harvest, feel the outside of the pod — if the pea inside is the same width as the pod, they are ready. Gently pull them off the shoot at the top of the pod.
- Storage — After harvesting, wash and dry your sugar snap peas. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for around one week.
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