It is just about the time for much of the country to plant their spring garden. But in the SF Bay Area, we have had a relatively warm, dry winter (not the best for dealing with drought). I always love growing peas because they are so delicious and so expensive at the supermarket!
Sugar snap peas are very easy to grow – we have them in one of our front garden beds growing on tall pea trellises. We like the Super Sugar Snap variety for it’s height and disease resistance. The pea trellises are great for maximizing garden space because you are growing your crop up instead of horizontally.
Another gourmet delicacy that is extremely hard to find fresh are shelling peas. I prefer to just buy organic frozen peas most of the time, but during the winter I also like to grow petit pois. Petit pois are small miniature peas that are tender and sweet. There don’t seem to be that many varieties around and I’ve come across a few types and have not really been successful yet. Most of the varieties seem to be overseas. I’d love to hear about people’s experiences with different varieties including disease resistance, yield, and taste!
Here is a picture of some Waverex petit pois next to peas that came from our Sugar Snap peas. You can see the significant size difference!
Waverex – is a popular petit pois. A popular UK heirloom, it is a heavy cropper. The 15″ vines are semi-bush and a good choice for container growing. I have attempted to grow this repeatedly, but in the SF bay area, this variety seems to be very prone to powdery mildew. I don’t recommend this variety if your garden succumbs to powdery mildew.
Precoville – Precoville are ready to use at miniature size, when the slim pods are just 3” to 4” long. Each pod contains six or seven tiny peas, less than half the size of regular shelling peas. Their buttery flavor and tenderness cannot be matched! Precoville plentifully produces petit pois on disease-resistant, 18” to 24” vines. These small, delicate vines need support. I have not yet tried this variety and plan to try it in the fall. (Seeds purchased from Kitchen Garden Seeds).
Citadel – (60 Days) I had this one year, but planted all of them and now the seeds are no where to be found! Height of the plant 24-36 in. I don’t recall them doing spectacularly.
Iona – (68 Days) Open-pollinated. A heavy yielder for a petit pois, Iona sets two and sometimes even three blunt 3″ dark green pods per node, on short 24–28″ vines, with exceptional sweet full pea flavor comparable in complexity to Miragreen. Tolerant to F1,2 and powdery mildew. I have not tried this variety yet and plan to try in the fall (Seeds purchased from Fedco).
Peawee 65 – A good variety of Petite pois type pea that produces a heavy crop of pods with 2 – 3 pods per node. This variety is resistant to powdery mildew and fusarium. Have not found a seed source in the US yet. Anyone?
Ceresa – Pea ‘Ceresa’ is an outstanding new ‘Petit Pois’ type. Plants are semi-leafless and almost self supporting due to their profusion of tendrils, producing an abundance of easy to pick, pointed pods. Each well-filled pea pod contains up to ten small, but deliciously sweet peas. Have not found a US seed source.
Calibra – Calibra is the very best variety, producing clusters of three or four pods, each holding up to 10 peas of the most wonderful succulence, sweetness and flavour. Have not found a US seed source.