Planting sugar peas shouldn't be such a dilemma. I’ve been instructed for years by the Lexington Master Gardeners to plant this vegetable over the Thanksgiving weekend in November. Quite honestly, that weekend doesn’t work for me; life is much too busy. However, once I began searching for resources for this information, I have not found a book on South Carolina gardening that says to plant these peas in the fall! So, I turned to the 2010 South Carolina Midlands Master Gardener Calendar and Journal (an annual local publication), and there, on the “November To Do List” (under “Edibles”), is the entry, “Sow English and sugar snap peas, (as well as radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, fennel, and dill) the vegetable garden during Thanksgiving weekend. Harvest winter crop early next spring.” So there’s our documentation for planting this crop now.
I planted sugar peas (also called English peas) early last spring in our newly constructed raised beds, and they produced the best crop of sugar peas I’ve ever had. The plants were beautiful, and the crop was bountiful, so I will plant more in this spring, but I do plan to try the November planting next fall to see how they do.
Regardless of which time you choose to plant your crop, take time to try a new vegetable this year. Our mild winters (most years!) allow gardening year round; all we need to do is understand when to plant each crop and to know what each plant needs. A great resource (besides the SC Midlands Master Gardener Calendar and Journal) is the Guide to South Carolina Vegetable Gardening, by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing. As the introduction says, even if you’ve never grown an edible, this book is for you.