Crafty Kids: How to Plant an Indoor Pea Shoot Garden

pea shoots

As we head into March and still the winter lingers, you can get your kids digging in dirt—and planting the seeds for some tasty pea sprouts even the pickiest eaters will be happy to nibble. This how-to is excerpted from famed Minneapolis sustainable farmer Elizabeth Millard’s latest book, Indoor Kitchen Gardening. Look out for her recipe at the end, in case you need inspiration for whipping up your kitchen bounty!

One of the easiest plants to grow inside are pea shoots, which are really just the first stage of growth of the pea plant. You won't get the sweet peas as a result, but you'll have plenty of that summer taste, even in the middle of winter, because the edible stems and leaves are packed with flavor, tasting far more intense than any supermarket peas.

What you’ll need:

  • A flat, wide, open-style tray with drainage slots (or leftover blueberry or raspberry containers)
  • Soil, either an indoor growing mix or a compost blend.
  • Vermiculite
  • Organic pea seeds, from your nursery or gardening center

1. Soak the seeds for about 24 hours before planting. In some cases, especially when the house feels on the colder side, soak them for a day or two longer so that they begin to sprout before you plant them.

2. Measure out about 8 cups of indoor potting soil or compost mix, and about 2 cups of vermiculite. 

3. Add water. Depending on how dry the soil is, you'll probably need 2 to 3 cups water, but add it gradually and mix it in until you can squeeze a handful and have a few drops (not a stream) dribble out. 

4. Put the soil mix into your container, making sure to spread it evenly to create a level surface, especially along the sides. Then seed generously. No need to poke holes in the soil, or cover the seeds with more soil. 

4. Put the soil mix into your container, making sure to spread it evenly to create a level surface, especially along the sides. Then seed generously. No need to poke holes in the soil, or cover the seeds with more soil. 

5. Water very lightly, then place an empty tray over the top. This will help to keep the soil warm, and blocking the light for a few days helps the seeds to become healthier. You can peek inside if you want to see the magic, but be sure to replace the cover if the seeds haven't sprouted yet. 

6. Once they show any sign of growth (about three to four days), remove the cover and water daily. Give them a blend of artificial light and sunlight. The shoots will bend toward the light, so rotate the tray daily. 

7. When plants are about eight inches tall, it’s time to harvest! 

Pea Shoot Pesto
3 cups pea shoots, chopped
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil

Pulse all in a food processor until it resembles a paste. Salt to taste. Serve on your favorite pasta. Yum!