When I check the hit counter I sometimes notice that some visitors to PPPs stumble into my blog after googling 'peas purple podded ', obviously wanting horticultural information . . .
so whether you're here for the peas or for another reason, this afternoon we're talking peas in all their glory.
I've just taken a tea-break after spending the afternoon baking sponge cakes for the village fete (one cake is sort of fun, more than two in one afternoon is so tedious, I've got no chance of being the Queen of Cakes, – how does she do it?). I wandered out to the vegetable garden where the high red-brick wall shades half the plot in the afternoon, it's here that this year I'm growing the peas – ten varieties on five rustic arches over the side paths between the raised beds.
I've noticed that other English veg-garden bloggers are well into their pea harvests, mine are just coming into pod – the result of growing them in semi-shade. The up-side is that they haven't needed watering even though we've had some scorching weather already this spring. Here are my 'original' PPPs - the first 'Purple Podded Pea' that I grew and it always puts on a show . . .
This year it's sharing an arch support with 'Golden Sweet'. I first grew this pea four years ago from seed obtained from the Heritage Seed Library. It didn't do well, getting shaded out by neighbouring crops. But the next year I found one little self-seeded pea plant among the broad beans and it had pretty golden pods. I carefully saved the seed and planted them last year, only to have snails munch through most of them in last year's dull, damp summer. In the autumn the weather improved and I was able to save a good quantity of seed. At long last I can see why Daughter of the Soil gave them such a glowing report.
One of my favourite peas from last year is 'Victorian Purple Podded', it doesn't get top marks for flavour or texture but it's an elegant looking pea – here is a close up of one of the flowers . . .
Each year I try to grow some pea varieties I haven't tried before, this one is 'Tutankhamun' – one of my selected seeds from the HSL this year. This pea is said to have originated from the gardens at Highclere in Berkshire owned by Lord Carnarvon; the very chap who financed Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. Allegedly Carter and Carnarvon found some dried peas among the artifacts in the tomb . . . could these be the descendants of the peas from the tomb? Who knows! but it's a nice tale and they're nice looking peas with lovely white flowers, a good contrast to all the pink and purple flowers on the PPPs.
Here's another newbie in my garden – 'Carlin', a seed swap with a fellow pea-enthusiast over on the Suffolk coast. Mmmmmmm?! not sure this one's going to win me over with its looks, it's a thumping big pea plant which has already engulfed it's side of the eight foot high arch and is only just showing the first flower. But, I'm not being put off by it's less than dainty appearance, this pea has pedigree – it's history in the north-east of England goes back to 1644 when Newcastle was under siege from the Scots, the townsfolk were at the point of starvation when a Dutch ship evaded the blockade and reached the port – it was laden with dried peas, hurrah!!! Similar peas were probably common fare in monastery gardens throughout the middle ages. Up there in Tyneside, the Sunday before Palm Sunday is known as Carlin Sunday and the traditional plat du jour is Carlin Peas, served with salt and pepper, brown sugar and vinegar or rum (!?). We'll have to give it a try!
Wait a minute . . . what's that in the stripy shadows under the artichoke leaves . . .