If I was only allowed to grow one vegetable in the garden, it would be tough to deny the position to peas. Growing your own peas is truly a rewarding experience.
Peas are one of the earliest crops to sow are usually simple and problem free. They provide a succession of delights too, from beautiful, delicate plants, colourful flowers and a finale of tasty young pods and mature peas.
Peas are at their best freshly harvested and even more so, straight from the pod. The sugars start to turn to starch after a few hours and the magical experience is lost. This is why growing your own peas at home, in the kitchen garden or allotment, is such a rewarding experience. One of the most pleasurable images this year will be the sheer delight on my young daughter’s face when she picked and ate her first fresh pea straight out of the pod.
Humans have grown peas domestically almost as long as wheat and was probably a result of their ability to be dried and stored. Eating them as a fresh delicacy appears to have begun in the sixteenth century. Later, Victorian gardeners would have perused pages upon pages of the huge varieties of peas presented in the period’s seed catalogues; such the sought after vegetable they were for the kitchen.
Today, the range is not as vast but still impressive and not just because the pea breeders are producing new varieties with improved resistance against common pea problems but also, the types of pea available are accommodating the changing requirements for the modern gardener such as plant sizes suitable for smaller spaces.
The heritage varieties are also becoming popular, and rightly so. Blauwschokker is a unique variety and dates back hundreds of years in Europe. It is still popular in parts of the continent and Canada. It could easily be considered ornamental with its beautiful purple flowers which precede the magnificent purple pods and are a wonderful contrast to the pale green peas inside. The pods can be picked and eaten as a mangetout as the mature peas are not sweet like other green varieties but would certainly make a delicious soup.
I’m certainly allocating more space for peas next year and I plan to go to great heights with the variety ‘Alderman’ for a more vigorous crop over a longer period of time. I even have an easy peasy homemade frame design in mind, ready to accommodate their much-needed requirement for support.
Are you enjoying a harvest of peas right now? I’d love to hear about your favourite varieties. Let me know in the comments below or come join the conversation on Facebook.