Peas Please Me

Pea ‘Blauwschokkers’ (blue-podded)

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Novelty-seeking veggie gardeners have plenty of exciting options to choose from with trendy crops, such as gourmet greens and tomatoes. But peas? Hardly trendy, and hardly a plethora of options to choose from, at least in most catalogs: a few snap peas, a couple of snow peas, and maybe a few varieties of shelling types. I suppose it’s not really necessary for peas to be exciting, appearance-wise; once you experience the flavor of fresh-picked peas straight from (or, even better, right in) the garden, you hardly care what they look like. But if you enjoy trying something different, there are two out-of-the-ordinary varieties worth tracking down.

The first is an edible-podded type with pretty yellow pods. It’s sold under a few different names: Seed Savers Exchange, for instance, lists it as ‘Golden Sweet’, while Kitchen Garden Seeds sells it as ‘Golden India’.

Pea 'Golden Sweet' (yellow-podded) seeds

As long as you see “golden” somewhere in the name, you’ll probably get the right thing.

Pea 'Golden Sweet' (yellow-podded)

The pods are almost too pretty to pick, but don’t let that stop you, because they have a very good crunch and sweet flavor. The purple-pink flowers are very attractive, as well.

Another “something different” in the pea world is the blue-podded pea. You’ll usually find this very old variety listed as ‘Blauwschokkers’ (as in Seed Savers Exchange), ‘Blauschokker’ (as in Kitchen Garden Seeds), or some other variant of that spelling.

Pea ‘Blauwschokkers’ (blue-podded) seeds

It’s mainly grown for use as a dried pea, but the very young pods aren’t bad eaten whole, or you can shell the ripe peas for fresh use instead of drying. Or, simply enjoy the purple-flowered, 4- to 6-foot-tall vines as an ornamental, either alone or paired with another climber.

Pea ‘Blauwschokkers’  (blue-podded)

7 responses to this post.

  1. Your vegetable garden must be fun to tour Nan, with the unusual varieties you like to try. My husband has a passion for trying several types of squash and pumpkins. He planted 123 hills last summer (this included some gourds), and had to make a separate (huge!) area for them from our already large veggie garden. I have to keep reminding him there’s only 2 of us at home now :)
    Thanks for letting us know about these 2 unusual pea varieties.
    I hope your weather is better than ours. Have a pleasant Sunday!

    My veggies are pretty much scattered throughout my garden, Kerri, so they’re not much to see. But 123 hills of squash and relatives *and* a separate vegetable garden? Now *that* sounds like a true spectacle!

    I suspect we’re having the same wild weather you are right now. Hope we don’t blow away!
    -Nan

  2. Nan, thanks for the head’s up on those peas. Ours are in and up about an inch. Just the plain old sugar snaps. It normally gets hot here very quickly, hard to believe since it is now very cold and snowed yesterday, but true. I like the blue peas just for ornamental value. Maybe next year. And how about the size of Kerri’s garden? Drooooool.

    Frances at Faire Garden

    I’m so envious, Frances, that your peas are already growing. It’ll be several weeks before planting here, I think. We’re definitely back to winter here today – brrrr!
    -Nan

  3. I’ll be planting “regular ol’ peas” by St. Patrick’s Day, I hope. I tell people that fresh peas from the garden are not even the same food as frozen or canned peas. And eating them right in the garden, they are like candy!

    Maybe next year I’ll look for these unusual varieties. Thanks for posting about them!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

    I’m all for “regular ol’ peas” too, Carol! It seems I never grow enough, because I’ve never had any make in into the house. Even if I can eat my fill in the garden, I have two pea-loving alpacas begging over the fence for their share.
    -Nan

  4. Nancy … great information about different peas .. pictures are so pretty too !
    We did Scarlet Runners one year and the foliage/flowers were beautiful.
    Do you have a potager garden then ? .. I do it with herbs among my borders .. lots of different sages .. thymes .. fennel ..
    I miss my garden so much right now .. especially after this crappy storm once again.
    BIG sigh …
    Joy

    I guess I think of it as a cottage garden, Joy: I put things wherever I think they’ll grow best!
    -Nan

  5. Hi Nan! Hope you didn’t lose power all night as I did at Hawk’s Haven (minutes after the furnace kicked out yet again, oh joy). Internet access just came back on. Gasp!!! *Where* is spring?!! Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sells the yellow-podded snow pea as ‘Golden Sweet’ also, and I got a pack and can’t wait to try them. The purple-podded (blue, right) peas look gorgeous also, and I agree, they’d look great with the yellow-podded ones, with some green-podded ‘Sugar Snaps’ or other versions of same for contrast and great eating. I’ll have to get that Scheeper’s catalogue! Thanks for the typically great ideas. And, like Frances, I envy Kerri her garden–and her enthusiastic gardening partner!!!

    Hasn’t it been just awful, Elly? Wind is my least favorite weather thing, and we’re getting it with a vengeance. I guess maybe we too will be planting peas in another week or two, but it sure doesn’t seem like it today!
    -Nan

  6. This year my hubby asked me to plant peas so I have the seeds and I’m waiting for St. Patricks day. The two varieties you show here are just lovely! At first glance I thought the blog was about purple runner beans.

    Hi Melanie! Based on the weather forecast as of this morning, it really does look like we’ll be able to plant this weekend. Woohoo!
    -Nan

  7. Posted by Sylvia on March 17, 2008 at 9:42 am

    A long time ago saw purple podded peas grown up a post with a upside down hanging basket on top. The peas were then trained over the basket and looked lovely. I have always intended to try it but…
    Sylvia

    That’s a neat idea, Sylvia! Thanks for passing it along.
    -Nan

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