What Is the Difference Between Snow Peas & Edamame?

Two yearly members of the legume, or Fabaceae, family show that the broad range of diversity among Asian vegetables you can grow in your own garden. Crisp, sweet ice peas (Pisum sativum var. Macrocarpon) grow through the cool seasons, while sequential plantings of mild, buttery edamame (Glycine max), a kind of soybean, help keep Asian dishes in your menu in summer until fall. While the two bring variety to meals, they have differences in their growing demands.

Snow Peas

Snow peas are eaten whole, contrary to other kinds of pea you want to remove from the pod. Snow pea plants vine to a height of approximately 3 feet and need support. The edible pods are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, bright green, flat and slightly translucent. Crisp, older pods can be eaten raw or cooked temporarily. The flavor is slightly grassy and sweet.


Edamame plants are bushy and free-standing, with inedible, fuzzy pods. The beans bump visibly, and the pods are ready to choose when they appear nearly complete. The bean texture looks like the tender crispness of baby lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus).

Growing Principles

Snow peas are a cool-weather harvest, germinating best at soil temperatures around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide the plants using well-draining, organically rich, sandy dirt. They also need consistent moisture and protection from hot direct sun. Some pods may be ready to choose within 60 days. Early spring is a traditional time to plant peas, although you can also plant them in fall in warm climates. The plants don’t do well in the heat of summer. Edamame plants also require well-draining, rich soil, but soil temperatures must be above 60 F and also ideally in 65 F. The plants bear direct sun and need summer heat to produce beans. Historical varieties can be ready within 65 days, but some varieties can take as long as 85 days. Because the beans on a plant all tend to ripen with them, many successive plantings will stretch your harvest period.

Moisture and Drainage

Even though their demands differ, both snow peas and edamame confront challenges with dirt and drainage. Standing water can cause either plant to rot in the ground. Snow peas cannot tolerate dry soil, while based edamame plants must be watered only when the cover of the dirt is dry. Both beans grow best when moisture is supplied always and drainage is superb. Plan a regular watering program and track dirt closely.

Pests and Diseases

Peas are sometimes plagued by slugs but infrequently by insects, and edamame seem to be insect-free. Diseases which may create yellowing leaves and poor production usually stem from poor drainage or extended, moist, cold spells. In general, snow peas and edamame are pest-free in a home garden.

Harvesting and Storage

One characteristic shared by both snow peas and edamame is that their brief period for harvest. Snow pea pods can hang on the vine 2 to three days as soon as they mature, but then wither or go broke. Edamame are less forgiving, since legumes turn starchy and mushy as soon as they mature completely. When the pods look 80 to 90 percent filled, then slit one and bite into a raw bean to inspect the texture.

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