Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Give Peas a Chance

I have a new favorite garden pea variety.  I really haven't tried all that many because I was pretty happy with what I had been growing year after year.  But sometimes you have to branch out and try new things or you may miss out on something.

Up until now my favorite was probably Wando.  But I didn't grow them at all this year.
Reason being, they are very very tall and have relatively small pods.  They average 7 peas in each pod.  So even though there are a lot of pods per plant, the are more work to pick and shell.

There are not too many vegetable that you have to pick UP.  I would have to reach up for the later peas.  They require an extra tall stacking pea fence.  And if you get a stiff wind they turn into a sail.  Last year I had to anchor down the pea fence against the wind to keep it from leaning over.

The first year I grew Wando, they were two to three feet taller than the trellis and the tops leaned over in the wind.  This didn't hurt the plants but it made picking peas a challenge.  You just couldn't see or get to half of the pods.
Wando and Maestro 2011
I've grown Maestro peas every year back to the beginning of my gardening endeavors.  I started with Survivor (a self supporting "leafless" variety) which is now rarely available and Maestro.  And the Maestro are a nice average pea.  A garden staple you might say.  They are reliable growers and only 24"-36" tall but they have a couple of drawbacks.  Their pod shells are thick and spongy which makes them a little hard to open, because the shell is resilient and doesn't yield right away.  And the pod will expand and round out  before the peas inside are fully developed which makes for a lot of "false positives" when you're out there picking unless you have the sun shining through the row at the right angle.  Also once they are even a day too old, they get starchy and bitter right away.  

So - Penelope Pea.  Similar growth habit to Maestro.  Maybe a little shorter.  Seems like more pods per plant than Maestro.  And they are just great to shell.  They average 9 peas per slender pod.  It's not uncommon to get 10 peas.  The pod is thin and well shaped.  It is much easier to feel the size of the peas through the pod so you are not picking too early (giving a smaller yield).  And if you are a day late and you open up a pod just crammed full of over developed peas, they are not as starchy or bitter as Maestro.

Next year I will be back to growing some Wando but Maestro will be replaced by Penelope.  And I might try one new variety.  This year my third variety was Burpeanna which just didn't grow well for me at all.  I don't know if it was the timing of the weather when I planted them or the soil or what but they had a poor germination rate, and the vines were mostly stunted and small.  The Penelope were planted in the same bed right along side of them and did much much better.

Burpeanna from Burpee


  1. Love your posts.
    Question .... How long is your row of peas and how close together did you plant your peas? Your plant rows look so thick and lush. I think I plant my peas too sparsely, they always look so sad and don't produce very well at all.

    1. Hi Kelly, thanks! My rows are 11 feet long and I plant a whole packet (200+ seeds) per row. Two rows per bed which is 3 feet wide. The standard spacing they tell you to plant is every 1-2 inches. Mine end up closer together and in clumps. I always soak my seeds over night. I use a regular drinking glass and pour off the excess water then just pour the soaks seeds into the row I've etched out with a hoe. I've found that if I do not soak seeds, the first good rain, they will swell and float to the surface and I'll be poking seeds back in for days. If they are pre-soaked and watered in they seem to stay put.