Mary's Veggie Garden

July 18, 2013

Pea Plucking

Filed under: Peas,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 10:12 am

There are, of course, many ways to harvest peas. The trick is to find a method that requires only two hands, one to pluck the pods and the other to hold the container which receives the peas. It’s easy with a little practice.

I’ve spotted novice harvesters who look like they need at least four hands. When I’ve tried to help I have difficulty explaining the plucking process. It might be easier to see in these photos – in the garden it happens too quickly.

Step 1

Step 1 – Grasp the pod with 3 fingers – little, ring and middle, pressing the pod gently to your palm

Step 2

Step 2 – Grasp the stem with thumb and index fingers.

Step 3 -

Step 3 – Straighten thumb & index fingers, separating the stem from the pod.

Drop the pod into a basket. With a little practice the process becomes automatic and takes about a second. All my harvest time is spent searching under leaves for the next pod.

Need a tool? Scissors work well with one hand to snip and the other to catch the pod. But this is also awkward because that hand is also holding a container. The pods of some shelling peas are tough enough to require scissors –  but the vines were short so I left the container on the ground.

The right container to hold the pods simplifies the task. The best container has a handle. Slip the handle over the arm of your non-dominant hand leaving the hand free to pull vines into reach or brush aside obscuring leaves. (I’m right-handed so the container hangs from my left arm.)

Good containers:

  • A basket with a handle that arches from one side to the other. Baskets are rigid and have a wide opening and it’s easy to find one whose handle is wide enough to be comfortable on the arm.
  • A plastic shopping bag. Slide one handle over your arm and let the other handle hang down. Usually the bag hangs open, though I occasionally miss the opening and drop the pod to the ground.

Poor containers:

  • Rigid containers that must be held in the hand. These get painful when loaded up with a pound or more of peas.
  • Floppy containers. I have a colander that pivots on a wire handle, dumping unbalanced loads.
  • Plastic bags with no handles must be clutched in one hand and they tend to hang closed.

At home I use a basket and at the community gardens I use a plastic shopping bag with handles. With my container on one arm I have both hands for harvest. My right hand plucks pods while the left waits for a chance to be useful.

A basket of Cascadia snap peas and Windsor fava beans 6/24/2013.

A basket of Cascadia snap peas and Windsor fava beans 6/24/2013.

Usually I pluck my pole beans the same way but these fava beans proved too tough to pluck: either two hands or scissors were necessary.


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