Planting and Growing Austrian Winter Peas Using Traditional and Sustainable Techniques

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  • Austrian Winter Pea (Pisum sativum subsp. arvense) is a cool-season legume crop known for its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil and provide forage for livestock.
  • This guide will provide detailed planting and growing instructions for both traditional and sustainable methods, including no-till, permaculture, and regenerative techniques.
  • Instructions will take into account variations in growing locations and conditions.

Planting Instructions

Choose the right time

  • Plant Austrian Winter Peas in the fall after the last frost date, but at least 8 weeks before the first frost date.
  • Optimal soil temperature for germination is between 40°F and 75°F (4°C - 24°C).

Select a suitable location

  • Austrian Winter Peas prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0-7.0.
  • Plant in full sun to partial shade.

Prepare the soil (Traditional method)

  • Remove weeds and grasses from the planting area.
  • Till the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) and incorporate organic matter such as compost or aged manure.

Prepare the soil (No-till method)

  • Mow or cut any existing vegetation as close to the ground as possible.
  • Spread a layer of compost or aged manure (1-2 inches) over the planting area to provide nutrients and improve soil structure.

Sow the seeds

  • Traditional method: Broadcast seeds evenly over the prepared area and lightly rake the soil to cover the seeds at a depth of 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm).
  • No-till method: Use a seed injector or hand broadcasting to evenly distribute seeds at the same depth as the traditional method.

Water and maintain

  • Keep the soil consistently moist, but not saturated, until germination occurs (usually within 7-10 days).
  • Reduce watering frequency as the plants establish.

Growing Instructions

Incorporate permaculture and regenerative techniques

  • Plant Austrian Winter Peas in a polyculture setting to promote biodiversity and soil health.
  • Utilize swales, contour planting, and keyline design to maximize water retention and distribution.
  • Encourage beneficial insects and wildlife to create a balanced ecosystem and natural pest control.


  • Austrian Winter Peas fix nitrogen in the soil and generally do not require additional fertilization.
  • If soil fertility is low, utilize compost, aged manure, or organic fertilizers to maintain soil health and avoid chemical inputs.

Pest and disease management

  • Austrian Winter Peas are generally resistant to pests and diseases but monitor for signs of infestations or infections.
  • Practice proper sanitation and ensure good air circulation to reduce disease pressure.


  • Established Austrian Winter Peas are drought-tolerant but will benefit from supplemental irrigation during extended dry periods.
  • Utilize water-saving techniques like drip irrigation, rainwater catchment, or mulching to conserve water resources.

Weed control

  • Traditional method: Employ mechanical cultivation or chemical herbicides to manage weeds.
  • Sustainable method: Use mulching, cover cropping, or hand weeding to suppress weed growth and minimize soil disturbance.

Harvesting and termination

  • Austrian Winter Peas can be terminated at different stages depending on its intended use:
  • For grazing or hay production, cut the plants at the early-bloom or mid-bloom stage. - For green manure, allow the plants to grow until they reach full bloom before cutting.
  • Cut the plants with a mower or sickle bar and allow them to dry in the field for several days before baling or chopping.
  • If using for green manure, incorporate the plants into the soil before they go to seed to prevent weed issues.

Seed saving and storage

  • If you wish to save seeds for future planting, allow some of the pea pods to mature fully on the plant until they turn brown and dry out.
  • Harvest the pods and allow them to dry completely in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area.
  • Once dry, remove the seeds from the pods and store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container until needed.

By following these detailed planting and growing instructions for both traditional and sustainable methods, you can successfully cultivate Austrian Winter Peas in various growing zones, providing numerous benefits such as nitrogen fixation, forage for livestock, and green manure. Incorporating no-till, permaculture, and regenerative techniques will not only promote a healthy and productive crop but also contribute to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural system.