What’s in that Packet of Pea Seeds?

When I was growing up there was only one kind of pea to grow in the garden – shell peas. I loved the taste of peas but I hated shelling them. In my opinion, the only thing worse than shelling peas is shelling lima beans!

So I was glad when seed catalogues started to offer snap peas. These are great peas to grow because you can harvest them when the pod is filled with full size peas and the pod can be eaten. There’s no need to shell these peas; just steam them for a few minutes and you have peas without the work of shelling them.

Lately I’ve been growing Super Sugar snap peas because this is one of the few snap peas that has a large vine. You need a trellis or some other sort of support to grow this pea variety because the vines can easily get over 5′ tall.  These tall trellised pea vines are so easy to harvest – no need to stoop or bend. The vines also produce a lot of peas so I only plant a row that about 5-8′ long and find that I have plenty of peas to harvest. This also means that one packets of Super Sugar has enough seeds in it for four seasons.

But I’ve noticed over the past few years that there’s something a little strange in the packet of peas that I purchase a few years ago. The seeds all look the same and the plants grow well. But when they start to produce pods, there’s always one or two plants that have pods that are very different from the rest of the crop. These pod aren’t round and full; they’re flat and you can see the outline for each pea seed in the pod. Also, these pods don’t have a nice snap pea flavor.

The Two Pea Varieties in One Packet of Seed

It’s obvious that my current supply of Super Sugar snap peas has a few seeds of some other variety in the packet. It might be a mix-up during packaging or the fields of peas for seed might have had some other variety growing in it in addition to the Super Sugar plants. Fortunately it’s only a plant or two each year and they’re easy to spot when you’re picking the pods.

When these seeds are gone, we’ll see if the next packet has this strange pea variety mixed in it!

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