"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

Friday, July 2, 2010

"Sweet Afilia - Oh what a tangled web you weave."

One of the varieties of peas we are growing this season is called "Tacoma Afilia." I first grew this great little bush pea last year and was absolutely delighted with the results. Not only did it provide us with two nice harvests of sweet uniform peas, from successive plantings in the same location, but was easy to work with as this particular bush pea has been gifted with many more tendrils and fewer leaves than your average pea vine, allowing it to easily grasp on to any support provided for it. In our case, we normally like to use field fencing as a trellis for our peas.

Most of the pea pods can be found towards the top half of the plant and being semi-leafless we found that last years second crop did not suffer from the powdery mildew that often affects our late season crops. The plants grow rapidly once they have germinated reaching a height of approximately 3', tall enough to easily pick off of but not so tall as to shade our other plants. This gave us the distinct advantage of being able to pretty much plant them wherever we wanted unlike our pole peas that must be grown in specific locations so as not to block out the much needed sunlight from surrounding plants in the garden.

When you take into consideration the fact that these compact plants mature in about 60 days or less allowing for multiple crops, they are, in a sense, more productive than our much longer maturing pole peas that we are not able to replant in this manner due to our short growing season and issues with late season mildew.

One must be careful while picking lest Afilia's wild grasping tendrils take hold and pull you in.

The above pictures were taken a week or so ago, today I noticed that the flowers are fading and being replaced with peas.


Ribbit said...

Beautiful! I've never had much luck with peas. We get too hot too quick and cool down to freezing just as fast. I'm determined to try again this fall!

Mr. H. said...

Ribbit - At this point in time I would be willing to give up all of my peas for a little bit of heat. I most certainly would prefer nice tomatoes and peppers.:)

Jo said...

Thanks for the new plant info. Do you use this as a snow pea or shell pea? Or both?

Annie's Granny said...

The Sugar Lace snap peas I planted this year were like that, about 3' tall, with many wiry tendrils, and pods at the top of the plant. I was very happy with them. They were so much easier to pick!

It's me ...Mavis said...

I think this is the best year ever for peas... I wonder if it has anything to do will all the rain & cool weather we've been having? How are your cucumber and zucchini plants doing? Have you had to replant this year due to the weird weather we've been having?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information on new pea variety. I will remember that name.
This is not a good year for peas here. We have big temperature swings and peas don’t like that. I pulled all of mine out already.

Once I tried succession pea sowing. Due to hot weather I got fewer peas than I sowed.

Mr. H. said...

Jo - The fresh young pods do taste good and are a great addition to salads or stir frys but we mostly focus on using them as a shell pea.

Annie's Granny - I'm glad you posted that name as I was looking for another variety of afilia type pea to try. It looks like I can get the Sugar Lace variety from Ed Hume seeds. I'm going to grow and compare them next year...thanks, I added it to next years wish list.:)

Mavis - This is a good year for for cool weather crops that's for sure. I waited until 2 weeks ago to plant our cucumbers and zucchini out and they are looking a bit sad still and have not grown much at all. I remember when I used to get away with planting the fair weather crops in May, now I wait until June, perhaps I should not plant them out until July...Ay yay yay, I think I need a giant heated dome! Where is that global warming when you need it?:)

Vrtlarcia - What I do on a normal year when succession planting our peas and other crops is to plant the second crop in a shadier location, it seems to help. Luckily these afilia peas grow so fast that I was able to simply pull out the old plants and use the same spot over again last year. You are right though, peas do not like the heat especially big temperature swings. I would suggest mulching your peas to help keep them cooler but if I remember right you already do that.

kitsapFG said...

Beautiful pea patch and this looks like a variety I should try. I like the low growth and aggressive tendrils. I made a note of the variety name so I can watch for it next year. My peas are podded and fattening up. I am getting worried that they will be ready for harvest right when I am supposed to take a fast road trip over to Spokane to see my mother and sisters. I may end up doing the harvest the night before (long day that will be).

LynnS said...

One of the reasons you are so successful with gardening is because of that highly analytical mind going 24/7. You gave a wonderful write up on this pea, especially noting the height considerations when rotating crops and planning.

It also helps to toss in a little Sir Walter Scott once in a while, too!

I love that green garden of yours, so lush. Can I bum a thousand gallons of water, pleeze??

Mr. H. said...

Laura - Isn't that the way it always is, the gardens growth stops for no one. Hopefully your timing will be good and you can reap the harvest before you take your trip and avoid pulling an all-nighter shelling peas.

Lynn - Thanks, one does have to give much thought to where certain plants of significant height are placed in the garden...especially when space is constrained.

I would be happy to share some water with you in trade for a nice bundle of sun.:) One of my favorite sayings is from Sir Walter Scott -

"One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation."

Chiot's Run said...

Where did you buy the seeds for this variety? I'm always game to try new kinds of plants.

Mr. H. said...

Susy - I bought them from Ed Hume Seeds.


They are perfect for anyone that does not want tall pole peas or bush peas that flop on the ground. I think you would really like them.:)

GetSoiled said...

By golly Mr. H! Do you guys plant with a ruler and other measuring devices??? Look at those rows of yummy & succulent edibility!!! Oh boy, I better never let you see the untidy monsters growing in our raised beds!

I so wish I could grow those sweet peas here. I think it is too hot for them :( But happy you guys get to enjoy them!

Anonymous said...

Mr H,
You remember correctly, I mulch my garden. But I don’t mulch peas, as they grow so fast and make enough shade for the soil. Maybe I should consider mulching them next time too.

The Cottage Garden Farmer said...

Mmm, this sounds like one to try, I've been growing Telephone this year, a tall pea which I really like, but will definately give this one a go, thanks.

Mr. H. said...

GS - Oh you should come take a closer look, our rows are quite crooked, I never measure...to fiddly. Perhaps you could grow peas in the late fall for a winter crop?

Vrtlarica - If you do try it, and it works, let me know.:) I think I have been spelling your name wrong...so sorry.

Cottage Garden Farmer - We also grow Telephone peas upon occasion, they do really well for us. As Granny mentioned in the above comment, there is also a similar variety called "Sugar Lace" that might be easier to find.

Anonymous said...

No problem - it’s a difficult one to spell. :-)

Silke said...

Dear Mr. H, I see those pea flowers and just want to pick them... Not good for a strong harvest! I am glad your peas are doing well. We used to live in an area in Germany when I was a kid with lots of pea fields. I would walk by them and pick and eat peas to my heart's content. They are so good!! : ) Silke

LynnS said...

Mike, I do believe Scott penned a much better passage than those now uttered by our upcoming generations. Phrases such as "excellent adventure" or "rock on" proves Scott's point rather well.

Frugilegus said...

I'll definitely be trying one of these if powdery mildew comes back for a second year. For the moment Telephone is looking good here, but now I've typed that, fate is sure to be a-coming.

(Three weeks of almost-unbroken sun in London now - hope you get some soon!)

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Thanks for sharing the info on these. We are always on the lookout for new and better plants to add to the garden.
I was wondering how late you plant your fall peas? This is the first year I have been considering it but don't want to plant them too soon.

Mr. H. said...

Silke - Are they not just the prettiest little flowers, I have always been quite fond of them as well.

Lynn - Wouldn't it be grand if people still spoke a little old English. I picked up a whole set of unabridged classics a while back and am looking forward to reading them someday soon.

Frugilegus - Hopefully the sun will continue to shine in London and there will be no sign of powdery mildew. The sun chased away a sea of dark clouds yesterday and appears to have risen in a sea of blue this morning, I will keep my fingers tightly crossed that it continues in this manner.

Sylvie in Rappahannock said...

you certainly seem to have mastered the art of inter-cropping and succession planting. Amazing, Mr. H.

Stefaneener said...

Those DO look a lot like our "Canoe" variety, but I was a little disappointed with their performance. Perhaps I'll seek out seeds for these. We still have some homegrown peas in the freezer, but I would cheerfully have had more.

Simply Natural Homestead said...

I saw that you linked to my blog. I've reciprocated...although I think you already get just a LITTLE more traffic than I do. ;-) Thanks for the nod!

By the way, your beet greens looked yummy! I've used those in my smoothies before, when I've bought fresh beets.

Mac said...

I have to try this pea someday, my peas always succumb to mildew, and I don't expect to harvest any except a handful, but we enjoy pea shoots and I use them in stir fry dishes.

stephanie said...

I've never planted peas but these look delicious and easy - on my list for next year!

FYI:I did some reading about mulberries and posted pics of what we have - thanks for making me think about how lucky we are to have these "weeds".

Mr. H. said...

Sylvie - Yes, that is kale growing on one side of the peas and carrots on the other. I do tend to find a use for all of my garden space.:)

Stefaneener - They are a nice little pea and our second crop seems to handle the heat OK so they might do well for you too.

Simply Natural Homestead - Beet greens are one of my favorite additions to smoothies. I have enjoyed reading your posts on health and nutrition.

Mac - Perhaps this faster growing pea would be able to avoid mildew in your garden as it does in ours. Pea shoots are always good too, I'll have to remember to try them in a stir fry one of these days.

Stephanie - Normally peas are pretty easy to grow, especially in the spring, I hope you do get a chance to try growing them. I'll have to stop by and take a look at the pictures.:)

Kimberly said...

I just found your blog last night and I can't stop reading it. Your efforts are an inspiration to me to work harder in our desert garden.

What are the black hoops you use to hold the plastic up in your greenhouse tunnels? I don't see them connected to each other so they must be sturdy in and of themselves. We get strong winds here that blow almost everything away.

This year's garden weed is lemon basil...and that's okay with me!

Mr. H. said...

Hello Kimberly -

The black hoops are 1" poly irrigation pipe for the tunnel frames and 4 mil, 10' wide plastic for the covers. You can see how we construct them at -




How fun to have lemon basil as a weed, wish I did. We just planted our basil and hopefully it will do well this year. Thanks so much for visiting our blog.

Mrs. Mac said...

My sugar snap peas are seven feet tall this year; much higher than the variety I planted last year .. I'm attributing it to our crazy spring. I'm hoping my Afilia peas that were planted a few days ago do well (these are just for me to shell and enjoy .. but who knows .. maybe the kids will learn to like peas other than the Asian variety)

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac - Wow, 7'...I hope my runner beans get that tall. It has definitely been a good year for peas. I have got to grow some Asian peas next year, I used to grow them all the time but have not done so the past couple years...next year for sure.

I sure hope we have a warm September this year.

Chiot's Run said...

May thanks for the resource!

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