Friday, May 8, 2009

Pretty Peas

Unusual vegetables are near and dear to my heart, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say my taste buds. My latest forays into the rare are with snap and snow peas. I got seeds for six different varieties to grow this year. Three are in the garden now and I'm saving the others to plant late this summer to produce a fall crop and hopefully overwinter to produce an early spring crop.

You may have read one of my recent posts about an unusual bout of hot weather that produced temperatures in the garden in the high 90'sF. The poor pea plants were getting crispy tips just as they were starting to form flower buds. The temperatures have since moderated and the peas have fully recovered and are growing like crazy. They are coming into bloom and one variety is just starting to set baby pods.

The varieties that I chose to experiment have unusual flower and/or pod colors. The first photograph above is of a Green Beauty snow pea blossom. Green Beauty plants are supposed to get to 7 to 8 feet tall and produce 7 to 8 inch green pods. Wow, I can't wait to see and taste those. The first blossoms have fallen without producing pods, probably because of the heat, they did look a bit damaged when they opened. The next couple of photos are of Green Beauty blossoms.

I got my Green Beauty seeds through the Seed Savers Exchange, also the source for the peas shown in the next shot. This is a Magnolia Blossom snap pea.

Magnolia Blossom vines get to 8 feet tall and have light green 4 inch pods with a purple stripe. They are supposed to be more tolerant of heat than most peas. They did seem to wilt less and had less damage from the heat than did the Green Beauty peas. Here's a couple more photos of the Magnolia Blossom peas.

Next up is the Golden Sweet snow pea. I purchased these seeds from Pinetree seeds (sold out at the moment). Baker Creek and Seed Savers Exchange are also carrying them. These peas are originally from India which may account for them being the least affected by the heat.

Golden Sweet pea vines reach 6 feet tall. The purple blossoms aren't as showy as the Magnolia Blossom or Green Beauty peas since the don't open fully. The real show put on by this variety are the lovely yellow pods.

These are the very first pods to form on any on the varieties. I sowed the seeds for all three varieties on February 24 and 25 in paper pots and started planting them out on March 9.

Did you know that pea blossoms are self fertile and have usually fertilized even before the blossoms fully open? There tends to be very little pollinization from insects which means you can grow different varieties near each other and not have to isolate the plants for seed saving. This makes peas a very easy vegetable to save seeds for, especially for a beginner like me. The difficult part will be not eating all the peas.


  1. Lovely photos. They are really beautiful flowers. I didn't know they were self-fertilising, The insects seem to love ours, but obviously they're not helping, just enjoying! We have a glut of mangetout peas at the moment(from November sowing) - a nice problem to have!

  2. Chaiselongue, mangetout are what we call snow peas here. Lucky you to have a glut! I sowed snap peas last fall in hopes of a spring harvest. The birds ate most of my plants so I'm only getting a handful of peas.

  3. Awesome, Michelle. I love the pea flowers especially and Butterfly pea is my all-time favorite. I love that unusual flower too. Wonder if I can get 'em here. Thanks for the info :)

  4. Those pea flowers are extraordinarily beautiful. I did not know that they were self-pollinating.

  5. Those are lovely pea plants!

  6. Oh, those flowers are just so amazingly gorgeous! Will they produce purple podded peas, or did I somehow miss that? A snow pea that is 8 inches long?! You do find the most unusual seeds of anyone I know. Would love to hear how any of these end up tasting - I seem to go for the oddball looks ones too sometimes but then wonder if I should have just stuck with the basic varieties that sometimes taste a little better. Luckily, you have enough space to do both if you want, unlike me!

  7. Wow Michelle they are really beautiful and then after the bloom it gives you tasty food. Perfect!
    Have a great weekend my friend/ Tyra

  8. Oh those are so, so, so pretty! I do wish my little sugar snap had survived the hailstorm. I am definitely going to try again next year...

  9. I didn't know that peas were self-fertilising! We too have a glut of mangetout peas at the moment, and I've been making soup!


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