(This is an addendum to a piece on peas written by Liz Loveland for the newsletter.)
Some Garden Peas
By Liz Loveland
In the Somerville area, most people typically plant peas in March or April, depending on the spring’s weather, and the gardeners’ own microclimates and personal preferences.
Here are some cultivars you may want to try:
Sugar Snap Peas
‘Sugar Snap’—a wildly popular pea; did the pea give its name to this category or vice versa? Excellent for fresh eating, cooking, and freezing.
‘Mammoth Melting’—a popular variety that especially prefers cool weather; can also be used as a snow pea
‘Sugar Lode’—a high-yielding plant that holds up better to heat than many other sugar snap peas
‘Golden Sweet’ (also known simply as ‘Golden’)—a particularly heat-tolerant variety that has beautiful yellow pods
‘Schweizer Reisen’ (‘Swiss Giant’)—a vigorous grower with large purple flowers that are often mistaken for sweet pea flowers
‘Oregon Giant’—a popular, shorter variety bred in the US
‘De Grace’—an especially frost-hardy dwarf heirloom variety that is rare in the commercial US seed trade
‘Tall Telephone’ (also known as ‘Alderman’)—a tall heirloom variety that is productive over a long season
‘Coral’—an especially early variety, generally maturing at around 55 days
‘Mayfair’—a later-maturing variety that is very productive once it matures
‘Wando’—a tall, productive variety that is more heat-tolerant than most shelling peas
‘Little Marvel’—one of the few heirloom dwarf shelling peas still widely available commercially; this heavy-yielding variety remains popular in home gardens
‘Green Arrow’—a popular semi-dwarf variety whose pods are filled with tiny peas; freezes well
“Blue Podded” (also known by a variety of other names, such as “Pois a Crosse Violette,” “Capucijner,” “Purple Podded,” and “Blauwschokker”; these names are used interchangeably by sellers, though it is not clear that they are all the same pea)—the only soup pea that’s even remotely easy to find commercially in the US. Despite its most common name, the pods are typically purple and are so decorative some people grow it as an ornamental. Americans are so much more used to shelling peas that they often try to use soup peas this way, and while this is technically possible to do, soup peas don’t taste very good as shell peas. Soup pea pods are best harvested when mature and the peas are dried inside.
Here are a few companies that offer some of the peas on the list:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: http://www.rareseeds.com/
Fedco Seeds: http://www.fedcoseeds.com/ (Easiest navigation if you simply download the PDF of their catalog and then do a search for what you want)
Southern Exposure: http://www.southernexposure.com/