One of you scrawled across your order 'GARDENERS NEED PEAS!!!' a few years ago.
We couldn't agree more, and now we're definitely getting there, after our latest trials.
We have become interested in the possibilities of old-fashioned
We offer both types here. Smooth peas do go starchy more quickly once the pods
We now like to sow smooth-seeded pea varieties for our early crops, and then wrinkle-seeded ones for the maincrop once the soil has warmed up. In warmer areas sow smooth-seeded varieties in late autumn for early crops the next year.
Here are some of both kinds for you to try, with dwarf and climbing varieties listed separately,
Dwarf Pea Seed
The dwarf bushes are about 2-3 ft tall and really don't need any support. They do very quickly load up with lots of nice dark green pods.
Ideal for a first-early sowing.
Order PeHA - 200 seed £1.89
Oskar VERY, VERY EARLY - New Crop Back in Stock for 2013
This is a new dwarf pea we found back in 2011 when we tried out lots and lots of new peas, and this one really stood out in terms of earliness, and had a great taste as well - both fresh and cooked.
Oskar is a dwarf plant to about 3ft tall that makes extremely sweet peas right at the start of the season. It has nice dark healthy foliage and bears a decent number of pods.
You'll want to grow some other peas as well, for it comes so early that it finishes by the start of summer, but it is great for delicious peas before any others crop.Very early, very sweet. A favourite from our 2011 early pea trials, this is a first-early variety we discovered from the Czech Republic..
Order PeOs - 200 seed £1.89
Junos VERY, VERY EARLY
Another favourite from our 2011 early pea trials, this is a first-early variety we discovered from the Czech Republic. It is a few days later than Oskar above but makes very slightly more peas, so there's not much to choose between them.
Junos is a dwarf plant to about 3ft tall that makes extremely sweet peas right at the start of the season. It has nice dark healthy foliage and bears a decent number of pods.
You'll want to grow some other peas as well, for it comes so early that it finishes by the start of summer, but it is great for delicious peas before any others crop.Very early, very sweet.
Order PeJu - 200 seed £1.89
Charmette - Dwarf petit-pois type
Our new pea for 2012 “Charmette” was first given to us by Andrew and Sarah of the Seed Ambassadors Project. We loved it the first time we grew it but it has taken several years to get it into the catalogue.
Order PeCh - 200 seed £1.89
~ Climbing Pea Seed ~
The name is derived from an old French word for a special type of pruning knife, reflecting the remarkable sickle-shape of the pods!
Classed as ‘semi - early’ this makes a good second-early or maincrop pea. It has smooth seeds, so it can be sown early, but pick small for sweetness.
Fast growing, curved pods, slightly flattened sweet peas.
Order PeSG - 240 seed £1.99
Telephone Pea (very tall)
Now this is a well known variety that has stood the test of time. A tall vine that produces mid-season, here we recommend it as an early-maincrop pea. For us it grows to a good 6 feet tall, though others have written in to say that it gets taller (up to 9 or even 10ft!) for them.
Although various sub-strains have been developed over the years, its hasn't really changed from the description of 'Carter's Telephone Pea' in Vilmorin's famous book of 1885 on vegetable gardening.
It has heavy yields of large pods with sweet, non-starchy peas inside. We find that the pods always swell up a bit before the peas fill out, so don't be fooled into picking too early! This year they were ready to eat starting in mid-July, on over the summer, which is pretty good given what a cold year it has been.
Wrinkled seed, stays sweet longer in pods - but don't sow in cold wet conditions.
Medium tall vine, use as maincrop.
Order PeTE - about 190-200 seed £2.14
(And yes, to those that are wondering about the dating on this, we wondered too if this was quite right, but we checked, and the word 'telephon' (without the e) was in use by 1854 and the first patent was in 1876 by Bell, although his work was preceded by several other people. The real question is, of course, why should Carter want to call his pea after an effect first noticed when people were given electro-shock therapy in 1846? (their screams were transmitted over the wires they were holding). . . . They are a very good pea nonetheless!
"Champion of England " Tall Pea: NEW! - VERY RARE
Champion of England is a really good, traditional tall pea to 8 - 10 ft, dating from the 1840's. But it was unavailable , other than seedbanks, for a long time. A few people sent us small samples of seed from time to time, but we couldn't get them to grow. All that changed in 2007 though, when Robert Woodbridge got in touch with a new strain of family-saved seed from Lincolnshire in the 1940's.
It grew really well, and more importantly, was true to the old descriptions. It was fantastic - the only reason tall peas have been abandoned commercially is that you can't harvest them with machines. But for home gardeners, they give a great return for a small space.
So, after a few seasons, we have bulked it up from his original handful, and have a very precious few sacks of seed now that you can try.
We'll let him give the history in his own words:
For us this was an amazing find. It's the genuine tall strain, well maintained over the years, and we even know the location it came from. We think Robert's grandmother would have been pleased to know her seeds have saved this variety for gardeners everywhere.
Practically extinct, other than this harvest - hence the smaller packet. But 80 seeds should be plenty to be honest, as it is really productive. And as it is (like all our seeds) real seed - not a hybrid - you can of course keep your own seed for resowing.
Order PeCE - 80 seed for £2.52
"Lord Leicester" Tall Pea: NEW! - VERY RARE
So here we have it, a wonderful old pea we have brought back from the verge of extinction. It grows to about 5 or 6 ft tall, and the special thing about Lord Leicester is that starts to flower very early on, but carries on to almost the end of the season - so you get peas over a long period. The yield is good too - just look at all those pods in the picture!
As far as we know, this is extinct, other than our crop - hence the smaller packet. But 80 seeds should be plenty to be honest, as it is really productive. And as it is (like all our seeds) real seed - not a hybrid - you can of course keep your own seed for resowing.
Order PeLL - 80 seed for £2.52
~ Seed for Soup Peas ~
Latvian Soup Pea VERY RARE
Let's be clear - 'soup peas' are - not surprisingly - designed to be eaten dried, in soup. They are not good fresh (far too starchy!) so you'll need to grow some normal peas too. But they do make a fantastic ingredient in soup and stews, and if you want a high-protein crop that can be easily grown and even dried in UK conditions, then this is the one for you.
The flowers are beatiful with their contrasting colours and so are the seeds, they have an incredible speckled seed coat.
Now practically extinct, we liked it so much that we have paid to have it registered it on the UK National List of approved vegetable varieties. It is a good example of why the National List System is so foolish - it has no commercial value at the moment, so no-one would really ever bother to register it. But in the future, when the UK needs to produce more of its own food locally rather than inporting it from China, varieties like this will be very important.
This is a smallish starter pack of 80 seeds for you to multiply and help preserve this variety.
Practically extinct, other than this harvest - hence the smaller packet. But 80 seeds should be plenty to get you started. Your purchase helps fund further projects to rescue and bring back other old varieties in the future.
Order PeLa - 80 seed for £2.89
~ Mange-tout Pea Seed ~
This is a beautiful yellow podded pea that is very sweet eaten fresh or cooked. A rare variety, so do keep your own seed if you like it.
We have grown many mange-tout peas (if you've not tried them, you eat the wide flat pods) over the years but this one has always stood out head and shoulders above the others. It is a superb mange-tout pea, with beautiful yellow pods, tall productive vines, and a delicious crisp flavour.
The flowers are purple, & the pods are a wonderful lemon yellow colour, so we actually grow it in our front garden as a decoration! The yellow pods easy to see for picking, and great both raw in salads, or cooked as a vegetable.
Order PeGO - 100 seed £1.87
'Bijou' Giant Sugar Pea (HUGE edible-pods)
Here it is then, after a 5 year project starting with a handful of peas found in a jar in a cellar, this is our own reintroduction of a proper Giant Sugar Pea as used to be grown in the 1880’s.
It matches the original description and engravings perfectly, even down to the pattern on the seeds and the number of seeds per gram.
We hope you enjoy it! You eat the whole pod raw or cooked. They're sweet and tender - & so huge that just a few pods are enough for salad or supper.
We've had really good feedback about Bijou since re-introducing it, with several people saying they would only grow this variety from now on.
Very rare, practically extinct. The pods are so big they're just silly.
Order PeBi - approximately 90-100 seed £2.72
~ Saving Pea Seed ~
Peas don't in general cross very easily, so you can save seed from several varieties without worry. Here is our 'Golden Sweet' harvest.
But be sure that you don't plant types with similar-coloured seeds next to each other, otherwise you'll not be sure which plant they come from!
The tricky bit is getting your pea plants picked when they are fairly dry - we hang ours on an indoor washing line if it's rainy!
Then just stomp the peas out of their pods.