"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pass the Peas Please

I was delighted to see our over wintered red Belgium endive has started to flower, seeds should follow shortly. Actually, past experience with saving endive/chicory seed serves as a reminder of just how long it takes for the many flowers to bloom and finally form seeds. Last year I had to wait until September to harvest the seeds off my wild garden chicory, but everything is a good two weeks ahead this year... so far. I briefly discussed this magnificent plant in a previous post. What's Growing On?

A taste test was performed on the four types of peas we are growing this year and all passed with flying colors. From left to right, two blue podded pole peas, Tacoma afila bush, Alaskan bush, and an Alderman pole pea that I have saved seed from for many years now. I was a bit surprised to find the Alderman's not only had the best flavor but were so much larger then the rest. So once again it will remain my faithful standby, even if I do have to help it climb every step of the way.


I will definitely be planting the Tacoma pea again as it was one of the best bush peas I have ever grown. Not only did their many tendrils help them clamber up and over a 3' fence with ease but they also put out a decent amount of pods for a bush pea. The Alaska bush is taller then me, so I am not sure what that's all about, it was easily second best in taste. My heirloom blue (they really should be called purple) pole peas grew quickly and are a very colorful addition to this year's garden. It will be interesting to see exactly how many peas they put out as they are still growing up, almost 7' now.

It must be a good year for peas as they have all grown much taller than expected. One of the main reasons I am growing the Tacoma pea is its short stature, the upper echelons of the taller peas can and often are severely damaged by the winds in our area.

Tacoma afila

Blue podded

My heart sank as I awoke to a windy thunder storm late last night. I rushed out this morning to see how much damage was inflicted on the garden, especially the tall plants like peas. Miraculously, everything was in good standing... that makes my day. Maybe this really will be a good garden year, that would be nice for a change. Well, I'm off to slog about in today's much needed rain.


Stefaneener said...

Every time I start to envy your rain, I realize that it's part and parcel of lots of "weather." I may be a slave to the hose, but it's generally sunny skies here. Different climates! I'm happy to hear the results of your trials. I'll have to grow many more peas this year.

el said...

Ah, as of this last weekend our shelling peas are DONE. Sniff! You know, I have never been terribly experimental with them: unlike my dear beans, peas tend to disappoint unless you get nice cool wet years like this one. So like you I have one favorite that I have saved for years: the Little Marvel Shell Pea. But I grew 4 different varieties in the school garden: crazy different! Sandy soil! Super tall like yours! Maybe I am limiting myself at the homestead, I think. Garden self-doubt! Ack.

It's also a great year for fava beans.

Good luck with saving the chickory seed. I don't bother because we have too many wildlings growing and blooming everywhere.

granny said...

I now have a serious case of "pea envy" Your vines look great..and loaded with pods and flowers!Yummo :0)

Silke said...

I was just thinking we ought to grow some peas next year. Our lima beans are doing so great that peas would probably grow for us, too. We both love peas. I already see that our front-yard garden is going to grow again next year. We are the only people in our neighborhood who are changing part of their front lawn into a vegetable patch. Gardening in suburbia... Your peas look wonderful!! :) Silke

randi said...

actually it's been a great pea year here too, for obvious reasons..my question is that you apparently grow the amount I'd eventually like to so what I'm wondering about is your rotation schedule.
do you leave your fences where they are and use them for something else or do you move them as well? thanks Mike!

Mr. H said...


Our weather is just plain crazy, almost impossible to guess what any particular year will be like. I built my garden like a fortress this year in anticipation of wind, rain, and hail. We have had nothing but sun with a few gentle showers mixed in.

I have been using about half as much water though, we are starting to use more soaker hoses and deep planting in order to cut back on water usage.

Mr. H said...

Hi El,

You know, I have just begun to experiment with peas, other then a few snow peas I grew one year I have pretty much stuck to the same old standby.

I bet your little marvel peas taste the best of all from what I have read about them. We grow the Alderman peas in the shadiest part of the garden and after the main harvest still get peas all the way until fall. Not that many, but more then enough for a salad now and then. The afila are really different with all those tendrils, you might like them.

So our favas are just doing OK, I have saved the same seed for many years and this is the first really warm spring we have had...perhaps they don't like the heat. The batch I am growing in the shady part of the main garden are doing great.

That is the bad part about a huge variety of crops, it is very difficult to focus on any one crop. Sure is fun though.

Mr. H said...


We are having a great time with the peas this year. Mostly we freeze or dry them for winter pea soup. Lots and lots of pea soup.

Mr. H said...


Good job with the front yard garden. Sometime you and Daniel will have to take a look at the video blog "Edible Estate Home Forest Garden" on my my sidebar. The first one is about a fantastic suburban front yard garden.

The peas might like your rainy weather, I would try a few bush and pole to see which does better.

Have a great day!

Mr. H said...


My system is pretty much the chaos system. I really don't think you need to rotate crops such as peas, beans, tomatoes, etc. very often at all as long as you do a good job of amending the soil with good composted material. Until recently (chickens) that was simple decomposed plant matter in our gardens.

We once grew peas and beans on the same two fences for 4 years and they always did well, all we did was rotate them. I now move things around a lot more due to our ever expanding garden situation. You might try rotating your peas and beans on the same fences like we did.

I doubt anyone will agree with me but I really don't buy into the whole crop rotation thing. Not as long as you prep your soil properly. That's just me though, I never really follow the rules very well.

That said, I am careful to not grow potatoes in the same place twice. I can't afford to screw up my seed potatoes.

Matt and April said...

Nice peas Mr H!

Mine are at least a month away. You produce a huge variety of veggies. It seems like more than you could possibly can, or eat. Do you also market some of your excess produce?

Mr. H said...

Thanks Matt and April,

We do sell plants. Strawberries, peppers, tomatillos, ground cherries, eggplant, and various brassicas at this point. It is a new venture for us but we easily sold everything this spring.:) We may do a small stand at a local farmers market this year, also a first.

It is surprising how many people have asked what in the world we do with all this produce. Well, first we always over compensate on what we grow so that on years that the weather is bad we still have enough. On years when the weather is good, like this year, we have much more than enough for ourselves.

Also, being mostly vegetarians, it is amazing how much food one needs to grow in order to be food self-sufficient. Our personal garden is about 1/2 an acre and another 1/2 is in fruit trees, Next year we may start working on our bottom field, it is around 5 acres.

Who knows, perhaps we are headed in the same direction as you are... time will tell. Right now we are just enjoying this most excellent year for gardening...for a change

Accidental Huswife said...

Peas look fantastic. I'll have to wait for winter to grow such lovlies.

Accidental Huswife said...

Oh, I just read your comment about your personal garden being 1/2 an acre. Interesting. I was trying to estimate my garden space by dividing up how big our field is (one acre) and came up with what I think I have cultivated: 1/6 of an acre. I can't imagine how you keep up with 1/2 acre.

Mr. H said...

Accidental Huswife,

It's not that bad, once we get everything planted and get a handle on the weeds July and August are pretty lazy months as far as the garden goes.

We just got the last of our wood cut today so now our focus can be on the fun stuff, like gathering wild edibles.:)

Anonymous said...

I cannot get over how far ahead your growing season is! Here I made the move to the west coast for the 'mild/temperate' climate thinking the growing season would be longer and it sure doesn't look like this logic prevailed at all!

Mr. H said...


What zone are you in? We are in zone 5 (maybe closer to 6 this year). Is it a weather issue that is putting you behind or just the normal climate. I know many of the eastern states are suffering from a much colder then usual summer.

Related Posts with Thumbnails