General. Italians prefer shelling peas. They like their peas small, sweet and simply cooked. Picollo Provenzale is a typical “country style” Italian pea. The peas are quite small and very sweet. Telephono is a climbing pea with large pods, yet small peas.
Culture. Peas are a cool weather crop and should be grown in the spring, although a fall crop is often successful. For bush peas, if using beds, plant a pea every 1-1 ½ inches; put them about ¾ inch deep. Plant as early as the soil can be worked in the spring (6-7 weeks before the last frost date). If using a 4-foot wide bed, a 3 x 4 foot section will give plenty of peas. Make succession plantings for continuous harvest. As soon as your first planting has germinated, plant the next one. Make plantings until more or less the last frost date. For fall crops, try a planting 60 days before the average first frost date. For late summer plantings, set the seeds a bit deeper (1 ½ inches) than for spring and keep the bed moist until seedlings emerge. Bush peas will normally grow without support if you plant in beds or a wide row, although you can always put a few branches in the bed for additional support. For climbing peas, grow on a trellis.
Harvest/cooking. Peas will produce for 10-14 days. Harvest when pods are plump but not bulging for best flavor. Pick frequently to induce new pod set. Bush peas produce fewer peas per plant, but are earlier. Store in the refrigerator as soon as you pick them and cook within a few days for the best flavor. Fresh peas are a joy to eat. You can eat them uncooked in a salad; cook them briefly in water and finish with some pancetta; have them with pasta or risotto, etc. A fritatta with fresh peas is a memorable experience.