Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea

Four Feet and Climbing. If this is Dwarf, I sure don’t want to see Giant.

Dwarf Gray Sugar is the best edible podded pea for this part of the South, the lower Southern Appalachians. First introduced in 1881, this has heirloom strength combined with vigorous growth. It also has ornamental bicolor pink and purple blossoms.

Pease Blossom

Plant Details

Planting Time

Early spring or early fall. Spring is the best time for planting here, on the border between USDA hardiness zones 7 & 8. Global warming (ACD-Anthropogenic Climate Disruption) has made the timing a crap shoot, and I now bet on mid-February. A few years ago our last freeze date was February 9; this year, March 30. Roll the dice, and be ready to re-plant.

Planting Depth

1″, as with most peas.


For reasons explained below, I don’t plant rows, but arrange the peas a couple of inches apart around my tomato cage trellis, which is tomato cages arranged in a zig zag pattern. I hang garden twine off the tops to provide more support for the vines.

Plant Height

Dwarf, you say? Here’s where I get to quote Stanley Kowalski telling off Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire: “And do you know what I say? Ha ha! Do you hear me? Ha ha ha!” The first time I planted these I believed the “doesn’t need a trellis” bit, and they fell over at about four feet tall. I would write off this year’s growth to the 19″ of rain we’ve had since February 1, but they grow like this every year.


Still tender at 3″; also stringless.

Time to Harvest

Depending on weather, anywhere from 70 to 100 days in our climate.

There really aren’t any fertilization requirements, as peas are nitrogen setting. A fertile soil never hurts, however.

The most famous Southern pea eater was Thomas Jefferson, who participated in a pea growing competition every year in his part of Albemarle County, Virginia. The winner was the farmer who could produce the earliest crop. However, even then, Jefferson noted that green peas were being replaced by the African crop field peas, because of their heat tolerance.

For the record, our terminology is as follows: Pisum sativum varieties are known here as English peas or green peas; the more common Vigna unguiculata are known as field peas and cowpeas, though usually just peas. Most modern Southerners have probably never seen a fresh English pea.

Author: southernfusionfood

Writer, Woodworker, and Happy Eater

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