Slightly nutty, crunchy, easy and cheap to grow in an apartment, pea shoots sprouted from garden green peas pack a nutritious punch. Pea shoots are consumed widely in Asia and has been growing in popularity in the west. These greens are tasty additions to salads, friends to sandwiches and soups, and fantastic by themselves as the star in a garlic stir fry.
Pea shoots can be harvested and consumed at different stages, starting about a week and half. Younger pea shoots are tender and crunchy with a longer stem and a pair of small green leaves. After the first week of growth, the second set of leaves develop and the shoot gets thicker (and tougher). By this point, the Vitamin C in a pea shoot doubles and contains a healthy dose of Folate as well [src , USDA – pea]. See detailed nutrition information below.
Quick Directions for Growing Pea Shoots
- Plastic containers (2)
- Scissors or pen (to poke holes in one container)
- Paper towels
- Dried organic peas
- Tap water
- Clean plastic containers thoroughly, disinfect if possible
- Poke a dozen (1/8in – 1/4in) holes in the bottom of one plastic tray (to allow water to drain)
Container with many holes – a dozen holes is enough
- Place a single loose layer of washed peas in the container without holes
- Add room temperature tap water, at least double the height of peas
- Wait 24 hrs for the peas to soak
- Drain peas, and wash gently in tap water
- Fold paper towel to size of container, at least three layers thick
- Lay soaked peas on paper towel, in an even layer or two
- Pour a cup of tap water over paper towel, until water comes out the bottom and paper towels are soaked
- Place container on a sunny window sill indoors or a place with natural light
- At least twice every day, pour at least half a cup of tap water over paper towel, wet thoroughly, and dump drained water
- Pea shoots should be ready to eat in a week to two weeks (depending on your preference)
Tips for Growing Pea Shoots Indoors
Mind the light
Natural light is important for the development of green leaves. However, you can customize your pea shoots by experimenting with how much and when to give your pea shoots light. Here are two variations:
- Long stems, small tender leaves
- Keep the pea shoots away from direct sun or natural light for the first 4 to 5 days. Put into sunlight on day 6, and harvest on day 7.
- Shorter stems, larger green leaves
- Keep the pea shoots on a window sill from the beginning. The sunnier the location, the larger the leaves and shorter the stems.
Tap water is important
Tap water has Chlorine, which is important for keeping mildew and bacteria at bay. Chlorine dissipates into the air in about 24 hours for an exposed water surface. Hence, to ensure your pea shoots are healthy and pest free, water thoroughly with tap water twice a day and dump or drain the water in the catch container.
Alternatively, you can also use a low concentration hydrogen peroxide solution with distilled water. The most important factor for the health of your pea shoots is the cleanliness of your growth containers.
Check the roots
Healthy roots guarantee a healthy baby plant. If you’re using a clear grow container, you can inspect the roots from the bottom of the container.
They should be opaque, white and increasing in size every day. If the roots are brown, a little musky, translucent and sticky, throw the batch away.
Other growth mediums
I started growing pea shoots indoors in containers with a neutral growth medium, such as perlite or vermiculite in to-go food containers. Soil, if sterilized and clean, will also work. Using an opaque growth medium helps block out light for the roots to develop fully, and also makes it viable to nurture these baby plants into an outdoor garden.
However, if you’re after just the pea shoots, there is no need to get messy with any growth medium or nutrients. Peas, water and sunlight are all you need to enjoy these baby sprouts.
For the container, any pot or container with good drainage will work well, but plastic to-go containers are easy to sterilize and re-use.
If you can spare a colander with a large water catch, you don’t need a growth medium at all. The hydroponic bottom container would provide pea shoots the water and oxygen needed day to day. It’s important to regularly change the water – if the roots don’t get fresh oxygenated water, the pea shoots will drown.
Nutrition Comparison: Peas vs. Pea Shoots
We compared the nutritional contents between peas and pea shoots (200 peas or shoots) below using 2019 USDA data. A live comparison is here.
Nutrition for pea shoots varies depending on the stage of harvest. For example, the Vitamin C content of a newly sprouted pea shoot increases as the pea shoot grows in the first week. Dietary fiber also increases as the pea shoot ages.
Regardless, pea shoots are known for its bounty of Vitamin C. Two cups of leafy pea shoots will provide an adult all the Vitamin C they need for a day.