Heirloom Pea varieties

georgew79(Z5-6 MO.)February 22, 2010

hello all, this year besides growing my usual snap and snow peas I decided to grow some heirloom pea varieties and was shocked by the fact that ther was so few offered by most seed companies, even those that sell mostly OP and Heirloom vegetables. At most they just offered maybe five or six varieties of the English Garden or shelling Peas compaired to about 10 varieties of the snap or snow pea which is still very little compaired to the amount of heirloom Bean varieties. I guess that here in the US very few people are interested in growing OP and or heirloom peas. What I have found it that in the family alone their are over 4,200 types of Pisum sativum alone not counting the other species and subspecies of the pea family.

I just can't believe that there isn't any seed company here in the US that handles a large amount of pea varieties, while in Europe and England where the Pea is still held in great esteem in the garden and there are still a few seed companies that have a good number of garden peas, sadly the the ones I found do not ship to the US, although I did find one, B&T world seeds that offered several heirloom varieties but they wanted me to buy by the pound and I just don't need that many peas of one or two types let alone several varieties that I would like to find and the cost of shipping... Well you can guess what the cost would be to have 6 or 7 pounds of pea seeds shipped from France to the US. So What I would like to know is there any one in the US or for that matter any where else that collects heirloom garden peas and would be willing to share a few? I did get a offer awhile back from a person that had some seeds from a variety called Purple Passion Pea (Pisum sativum) but even though I have emailed him a few times, I have not heard back from him. So I'm hoping to find that variety and one called Mummy white for starters, then I would like to find some others like King Tut, Spring Blush, Blue Prussian, World record and Spanish Morroto just to name a few. Spring Blush is high on my list as it is supposed to have red or pink blushed pods. A lot of these have wonder colored flowers that equil or surpass the Sweet Pea that is grown for its many colored flowers, but is quite poisonous to eat. If anyone has a few varieties or just a few seeds to share from one of the peas I'm looking for, it would be really great as it would at least give me a starting point. I can be reached at my yahoo addy- georgew 79 at yahoo dot com. Thanks and I hope every one has a great 2010 season.


George W.

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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"What I have found it that in the family alone their are over 4,200 types of Pisum sativum alone not counting the other species and subspecies of the pea family."

Actually, there are considerably more than that. The USDA holds more than 6,000 accessions of just Pisum sativum and its various subspecies.

Many heirloom peas have fallen out of favor, since many of them were for dry use, and hardly anyone grows their own soup peas any more. What few there are left can be found in only a handful of heirloom seed companies, two of which I've listed below:

Synergy Seeds
Prairie Garden Seeds (Canada)

Seed saving organizations still keep quite a few heirloom peas in circulation. There are over 100 varieties of soup peas alone carried by members of the Seed Savers Exchange this year. I grow a few of them, but with one exception ("Golderbse") they are seldom requested.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 3:23AM
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George W

Spring Blush is a modern pea variety bred by Alan Kapuler. Alan's seed company is called Peace Seeds. They are not listed for 2010, but several other interesting ones are listed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alan Kapuler's Catalogue - scroll down to peas aka pisum sativum

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 6:30AM
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georgew79(Z5-6 MO.)

Hi Galina, thank you for the information, I knew that Spring blush was fairly new, I have had some luck as I have done small amounts of research with the USDA and was able to get some seeds under a agreement that I turn in a certain amount of research that they want. In the past this was pretty easy for me, but I had a stroke last year and I don't think as clearly as I need to, so I will be hard at work getting all the papper work that they want. One small thing that has made me happy is I was able to get three forms of the variety of King Tut and a very nice little wild pea from Ethiopia that has the prettist purple black peas, it will be very interesting to find out just how well they taste and with my studies into genetic improvement in the species of Pisum sativum that exhibit high levels of proanthocyanins and those that exhibit the bsg gene that controls the amount of sucrose. I should find out just how well they will grow and what viruses might effect them. I'm doing all this mainly to get some of these heritage and Op varieties back into the hands of gardeners and not plant breeders, that want to grow something different and want to save seeds which you can't do with hybrids. Thanks again for the web address I will take a look to see what they have, maybe I will run into one that I just have to get for myself.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 12:17PM
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Hi, Georgew

I live on a mountain side, resulting in a short, cool summer. I still try to grow beans, but my best crops are peas. And for those, I prefer vining peas. I know what you mean about finding peas in the usual catalogs.

SSE's slick catalog doesn't have any of the ones you named, but if you know a member who can look in their yearbook, you many find some. I'm not a member this year, as I didn't want to be tempted to try any new ones for a while. (Well, I did find one recently....)

Good luck to you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Savers Exchange

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 3:04PM
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I have sent you a pm

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 5:35PM
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cottage_garden(Z10 CA)

I completely agree with your assessment. I prefer heirloom varieties and finding a US resource for something other than the standard 5 is very difficult. A colleague from England has agreed to do some shopping for me when he returns home but he doesn't seem to want to leave the states anytime soon! Thinking of trying the Seed Savers Exchange as mentioned above and will gladly trade seeds with you if I'm successful.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 8:32PM
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georgew79(Z5-6 MO.)

First off I want to thank all of you for the info and thank you galina, I have checked into that.
Cottage Garden, thank you for offering, when you get what you are looking for let me know, as I'm interested in what he might bring you, and will be glad to do some trading, I have a nice interesting garden pea that has red flowers and the seeds look like they have a red coloration to the seeds, which is interesting at least to me, along with some others. I will be busy this and next month working and getting the raised beds ready, but will keep looking in to see if there are any new post or you can PM me if you like. I haven't updated my page which I really need to. In the past I grew a lot of hot peppers, and still grow a few rare ones, although because of the medication I take I can't eat them now, So I grow a lot of other vegetables like peas which are fast becoming my favorites over heirloom beans which I grow a few of. My garden is a result of my love for my grand daughters, which I try hard to show them how to grow their own food, so that when they grow up they will never go hungry so long as thy can grow some vegetables, even if they have to use containers. I pray that they don't go through the hard times like I did when I was just a boy. If it wasn't for my father when he was alive I would have gone hungry at times, had I not known how to garden, and I want to pass that along to my grand daughters.
At the rate that many heirloom seeds are being lost to the new hybrids that are being developed, I fear that soon we may all have to buy seeds that have been hybridized, by companies that only care about the money they can make, and not about the true quality of flavor that heirloom vegetables have. So many hybrids are made for ease of shipment and harvisting over taste. Store bought tomatoes are just one of the great losses, as they no longer taste like a tomato and if you look for fresh peas, well your lucky to find a few snow peas and at a high cost, even the best canned peas ar a meer shadow of what they use to taste like even though the canning process has improved a 100 precent over the last 50 years, and we have flash freezing, the peas and beans have little flavor of what they use to taste like. I'm thankful that we still have a few heirlooms that we can grow and save seeds of. This might all change over night if Monsanto has its way. Right now its trying to get a bill passed right under our noses that will allow it to grow GM plants that might ruin many OP varieties and heirloom seeds not to mention hybrids, because of crossing with their GM varieties. All this of course is just my two cents, But take a good look around and see what is going by the wayside.
George W. Z5-6 MO.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 10:50PM
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heirloom peas galore - and I haven't even started looking yet. I think there are more than the usual five in the USA. SSE and heirloom lists will have many more.

Good luck finding some great peas.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 1:02PM
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