|'American Wonder', also known as 'Early Dwarf', is an heirloom variety. It is one of the earliest maturing peas. The 10 foot long, bushy vines produce white flowers and 2 1/2 inch pods with 3 shelling peas each. However, each plant will not produce many pods.
Peas are hardy, weak-stemmed, climbing annuals. Custom has it that you can make a wish if you find a pea pod that has nine or more peas in it. Edible pea pods are grown the same way as sugar peas, just harvested much earlier, prior to filling out. Peas have always been difficult for the backyard gardener, producing yields so low, they often wonder why they bothered. New improved varieties have changed this. You'll need two things to grow peas: 1) Cool weater and 2) A 6 foot support trellis.
Time planting your peas so that the crop is finished by the time hot weather rolls around. Ideal temperatures are between 60 and 65 degrees Farenheit, with plenty of moisture. Often this means starting your peas 6 weeks before the last average frost date.
Soil should be well-drained and have plenty of organic matter. It is not uncommon to find that peas produce earlier in sandy soils, but yeild heavier, later crops in clay. When preparing soil, dig in 1 pound of complete fertilizer per 100 square feet. Plant peas 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart. A midseason fertilization will be welcomed. When vines begin to flower, avoid getting water on the plants as it might damage the flowers, reducing the crop. Time from planting to harvest is about 70 days.
Pick shelling peas when the pods are full, before peas have a chance to harden. Edible pods are harvested before any peas can be felt in them. Peas can be grown in containers.