~ Seed for PEAS ~
We've want varieties that are really tasty, as well as productive.
Peas are sown in spring - they're pretty hardy, and we sow our first ones in modules in a cold greenhouse in February , planting them out as soon as they're an inch or so high (if you sow outdoors, mice tend to steal the seed).
In mild areas, you can sow hardier varieties in autumn for early crops the next year, though we've found that a spring sowing usually catches up and crops only a little later.
Tall peas are are a little more work in that you need to provide supports,but you get a much, much bigger yield from a given space. Beware that some of the older varieties will grow to 6 foot plus in fertile soil!
Dwarf Pea Seed
Oskar VERY, VERY EARLY
A favourite from our 2011 early pea trials, this is a first-early variety we discovered from the Czech Republic.
Dwarf plants, about 3 ft tall that make 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 its so early that it finishes by the start of summer, but it is great for delicious peas before any others crop.
It really stands out in terms of how quickly it makes peas, and has a great taste as well - both fresh and cooked.
Order PeOS - 150 seed £
Havel EARLY, HOLDS WELL
A short pea to about 3ft, this is a traditional second-early variety that we have chosen because the peas hold well; they stay sweet for a long time on the plant if you don't get to picking them.
Ready about a week later than Oskar, but still very quick to crop.
Order PeVL - 150 seed £
Charmette - Dwarf petit-pois type
Our “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.
Here it is now - a truly gourmet ‘petit pois’ type of pea , making huge numbers of pods crammed full of very tender little peas, meant to be picked young and cooking only lightly. Exceptionally tender and well-flavoured.
This ‘charming’ variety needs little or no support if grown in double rows as the plants only grow to around 2ft tall.
Order PeCh - 200 seed £
~ Climbing Pea Seed ~
A traditional climbing pea, to 1.5 m high, with curved pods full of fat green peas.
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 (rather than wrinkled) seeds, so it can be sown early without risk of rot, but pick small for sweetness.
Fast growing, curved pods, slightly flattened sweet peas.
Order PeSG - 240 seed £
It grows to around 4 - 5 foot tall, and looks stunning grown on a wigwam or traditional peasticks for a decorative feature that also produces lots of tasty peas. Given to us by Vivi Logan, we are delighted to add this to our collection.
Grown for us by Daniel Blackburn in Pembrokeshire.
Order PeRK - 70 seed (very rare!) for £
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! We find it's best to check a couple of pods first before picking lots - not too much of a hardship!
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 £
(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
Re-introduced by us in 2010. The conclusion of a 4-year rescue project, here is your chance to grow a traditional UK variety that has been commercially extinct for years.
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 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 it available for you to try. We think you'll like it just as much as we do.
We'll let him give the history in his own words:
She got the seed from the head gardener at a big country house during the war where my grandfather worked as a carpenter repairing wooden greenhouses and cold frames.
As to the pea it grows to ten foot high and the peas are 8 to 10 per pod and you start picking from the bottom and work your way up, it prefers to be sown at the end of April to avoid the pea moth maggot and takes about 100 days to reach 10 ft.
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 £
This is another fantastic traditional UK pea that is sadly commercially extinct, but we have managed to regenerate it over a 5 year period starting with just a tiny handful of peas which we eventually tracked down in a private seed collection in USA.
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 £
~ 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 £
'Bijou' Giant Sugar Pea (HUGE edible-pods)
This sort of pea - real old fashioned Giant Sugar Peas with 7 inch edible pods - used to be very popular but are now almost completely extinct. The huge pods (the peas inside the pod in the photo are full-size) are sweet and juicy, and children just munch them straight off the plant.
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 £
~ Seed for DRYING / SOUP Peas ~
This variety was first given to us by neigbours in the Clydach valley here in west Wales. We haven't been able to trace much of its history, but we've been impressed with its performance in the last few seasons, particularly the extremely difficult summer of 2012.
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 soups, stews, curries and other pulse dishes. If you want a high-protein crop that can be easily grown and dried in UK conditions, then this is the one for you. This variety has smooth greeny-grey seeds, that make a traditional UK style pea soup or tasty mushy peas (if you prefer a darker coloured pea, look at the Latvian variety below).
When we were first given the pea, we were warned to provide strong tall supports, to allow for growth up to 6 foot plus, so do be aware you will need to make frames for them as you would runner beans or climbing french beans. In milder areas (like west Wales) they can be planted in November to overwinter if you wish, though we don't find any great advantage in production compared to a spring planting.
This is a smallish starter pack of 60 seeds for you to multiply and help preserve this variety. Pea seedsaving is very easy, and obviously (as a soup pea) they produce lots of seeds! So you should have no problem keeping back plenty to sow next year, as well as having a good crop for cooking.
Available in limited quantities only at present, hence the smaller packet. But 60 seeds should be plenty for a good length of row. As with all our rare peas, we recommend starting in modules to avoid losses to mice who will happily steal all your freshly planted valuable pea seed!
Order PeBo - 60 seed £
Latvian Soup Pea
We've tried lots of soup pea varieties over the years, as we're always looking for good protein crops that will produce reliably in Wales. After many years and a lot of peas (!) we've settled on this Latvian pea and the Boddingtons above as the two very best varieties for production and taste.
The Latvian pea is again very productive and tall growing, so needs sturdy supports. It has really beautiful tan seeds speckled with a darker brown, obviously great for use in soups, but also good in other dishes that use dried pulses. Our friend Daniel makes a delicious 'hummus' with this variety. It also has pretty purple flowers which look very attractive in the garden.
Again a smaller starter packet - but given a year or so you should be able to provide peas to most of your neighbourhood without much difficulty!
Order PeLa - 60 seed £
~ 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, then you'll avoid any mix ups.
Ideally pick your pea plants when they are fairly dry - we hang ours on an indoor washing line if it's persistently rainy!
Then just stomp the peas out of their pods.
More detailed seed-saving instructions are included with your seeds, so you can do all this yourself at home.