Yes, friends, my plant babies sometimes annoy the crap out of me. A parent probably shouldn't say things like that about their children, but my babies are plants and they don't usually speak English, so what the heck.
The problem? Peas. I have a lot of peas in the garden. A lot of peas. The thing with pea plants, or most vining vegetables, actually, is that if you don't keep them picked, they will stop producing veggies. They put all their energy to creating seeds, which is great if I'm trying to collect seeds, but most of the time I'm not.
And peas, they're green. And they like to hide deep inside their leafy vines, where you're least likely to find them. Unless you spend a lot of time sorting through very fragile vines and leaves, you're bound to miss one or two, sending the whole plant the signal that it's time to stop producing peas.
I used to have the same problem with green beans, which are also a leafy, vining plant with green pods, but last year I got smart. I ordered a variety called Purple Podded Pole Bean. It's the most awesome thing ever invented.
Not only are they pretty (they have a lovely purple flower and red vines), but the beans are incredibly easy to find on the plant. Plus, they're a heavy producing plant with large beans.
So while I was digging through fragile pea vines, I thought to myself, do they make purple peas? They would have to be purple sugar snap peas (the fat, crispy kind you can eat whole, shell and all), because English peas (the kind where you can only eat the peas inside the shell) just aren't worth my time. I know there are varieties of purple English peas, but that wouldn't do.
I asked the internet. There are several people in the process of producing purple sugar snap peas, along with purple snow peas. There are yellow peas. There are purple soup peas. Apparently there's a kind of bean called a purple hull pea that they grow in the south. Hmmm...
And then I found it! On an obscure little seed page, I found a variety of pea called Sugar Magnolia.
Apparently, it's a heavy producer that can grow up to eight feet tall, and it has a quirky trait called hyper-tendrilling, where instead of having one set of tendrils that it uses to grasp onto things, it has lots of sets.
It's a hard seed to find, though. No one owns a seed patent and it's not an heirloom, so no big seed company wants to carry it. I managed to find someone on ebay selling 50 seeds for $2, so I snagged it. I figure I'll try it out, and if I like it, I'll save my own seeds for next year. While I was there, I also grabbed another kind of hard to find, unusually colored pea called Opal Creek.
It's a yellow sugar snap pea, which should also be easy to find while picking.
And the other day, I got my new seeds in the mail!
I plan on planting them for the fall. Peas are a cold weather crop, and full sized plants usually die out during the hottest months. I usually plant the fall seeds as soon as I pull out the spring plants, and they start producing once the weather cools down a little bit.
When these guys start producing, I'll be sure to take lots of pictures.