fbpx

 

Written by Liz Mistick

 

Slow Food wants to thank each and every one of you for purchasing and supporting our Plant a Seed Campaign! Now that Seed Kits have been packaged and shipped around the nation, Slow Food USA is publishing a Meet Your Seed series of blog posts so you can learn a little bit more about the wonderful seeds you are all about to plant, harvest, and enjoy! We'd like to first introduce you to the Peas of the Plant a Seed kit. Meet the Ark of Taste's Marrowfat pea descendant, the Laxton's Progress No. 9 Pea and Row 7 Seed's Beauregard Sugar Snap Pea!

LAXTON'S NO. 9 ORIGINS

An iteration of the Ark of Taste's Marrowfat Pea, the Laxton's Progress No. 9 sounds much more like a science experiment than a delicious addition to any meal. But like its Marrowfat cousin, this pea is starchy, large, and rich in flavor. While the existence of Marrowfat peas has been documented since the 16th century, the Laxton's Progress was not conceived until the 19th century, when plant breeder Thomas Laxton began cross-breeding the vegetable in Bedford, England.
    Fanatical about his craft, Laxton first began breeding varieties of strawberries (17 are credited to him alone) and apples, and also collaborated with Charles Darwin on multiple pea experiments. Darwin even writes about the work of his colleague in The Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom: “He gave me seed-peas produced from crosses between four distinct kinds; and the plants thus raised were extraordinarily vigorous, being in each case from 1 to 2 or even 3 feet taller than the parent-forms, which were raised at the same time close alongside.”

THE LAXTON'S LEGACY:
     After his death in 1873, both sons and grandsons carried the legacy of the Laxton name,establishing the Laxton Bros (Laxton Brothers) seed company. Although both the seed store and nursery closed in 1957, the Bedford community continues to honor the Laxton's efforts in the present day. As a result, families as friends gather in their Community Orchard to pick, eat, and enjoy many Laxton apple varieties, including the Allington Pippin and the Peasgood Nonsuch.

THE BIRTH OF THE PROGRESS NO. 9
     And so it is through this passion for innovation and a nurturing of tradition that Slow Food has chosen to include the Laxton'ss Progress No. 9 Pea in our Plant a Seed Campaign! We hope that–like the people of Bedford–Slow Food USA can honor and recognize the efforts of Thomas Laxton, and continue to fill as many gardens as possible with a crop that epitomizes our vision to grow food that is good, clean, and fair.

ABOUT:
     The Laxton's Progress No. 9 is known a dwarf variety of pea. It is named so because, while its parent variety can grow vines reaching five feet with long and round pods, the Laxton's grows to only 15-20 inches tall, with short and stout pod characteristics. Nonetheless, there is nothing tiny about this pea; Laxton's Progress pods can yield about 9 (hence No. 9) peas in just 60 days! Much like the Beauregarde Snow Pea included in this kit (read about it below), Laxton's Progress No. 9 is also bred for flavor and disease resistance. A seed planted in July or August will yield an autumn crop as sweet as any summer pea, and its resistance to Fusarium Wilt dismisses any worry about the health and longevity of your pea, so you can continue to plant, harvest, and serve a vegetable that is just as nutritious as it is delicious!

THE SEED DEET:
Everything you need to know about planting, watering, growing and harvesting your Laxton Progress No. 9 Peas!

1. SOIL AND WATERING:

  •  The best soil for your pea is sandier in texture with sufficient drainage quality; too wet of soil will cause your peas to rot! Peas also thrive in a neutral soil: a pH between 6-7.0 will ensure a timely and healthy growth procress. Seeds planted in the early spring–when soil temperatures are around 40 degrees–will germinate more slowly than seeds planted in soils around 60 degrees. It is most advantageous to have the crop mature as early as planting schedule will allow (see notes about your Gardening Zone below). 
  • Water your peas well after sowing, and then leave them – except in very dry weather – until they flower, when they should have a really good soak to encourage good pod formation. Keep them weeded until well established.

2. GROWING, MATURATION, AND HARVESTING:

  • Sow seed in a single row 5 to 10cm (2 to 4in) apart, ensuring there is enough space for plant supports. Once peas have reached, 5 to 8cm (2 to 3in) in height and their tendrils begin to reach out for support, place supports next to plants. Use bamboo canes, pea sticks, trellis, netting, chicken wire or use any garden pruning that produces twiggy branches. Your peas will be ready for picking in just 60 days.
  • The more you harvest, the more they will produce. Harvest from the bottom of the plant working upwards. Do not pull up the plant as the roots are full of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Cut off the stems at ground level, allowing the roots to rot down and release nitrogen back into the soil for the next crop to use.

3. STORAGE:

  •  Keep pea pods at near freezing temperatures for around a week.

KNOW YOUR ZONE

Figure out the best time to sow your seeds for the perfect harvest! 

Zones 2-6: Plant March-May

Zone 7: Plant March-April

Zones 8 and 9: Plant January-March

Zone 10: Plant November-February 

Zone 11: Plant January-February 

 

Now it's time to meet the second of the Pea Seeds in your Plant a Seed Kit. Produced by chef Dan Barber, seed breeder Michael Mazourek, and seedsman Matthew Goldfarb, say hello to Row 7's Beauregard Snow Pea

THE PEA:
     Named after Willy Wonka’s Violet Beauregarde, you would think that Row 7’s Beauregard Snow Pea houses plump, succulent blueberries inside its pods. Its shells are packed with anthocyanin, not only providing a visually stunning purple hue but also an extra layer of defense. Bred for both flavor and quality, this pea can thusly withstand even the strongest wave of Fusarium Wilt, a crop illness known to greatly affect pea varieties. The Beauregard is also well-suited to many various growing conditions, making it a perfect addition Slow Food’s Plant a Seed Campaign! Whether you are growing a small garden in your backyard, planting a school garden for a class, or sowing seeds in your home’s small garden container, the Beauregard’s short maturation and long harvest period will have you eating peas until you’re purple in the face (sorry, not sorry).
     Slow Food’s Plant a Seed Campaign is all about finding where Tradition meets Innovation, and–like Row 7–we believe that there is no better place to start searching than in our seeds. By revitalizing a crop which has existed since the early 18th century, we can begin to reimagine agriculture as a mainstream endeavor, no longer exclusive to farmers or rural populations. Row 7 and Slow Food thusly promote an idea in which access to delicious food, knowledge about our food system, and understanding history may shape healthier, stronger, and more sustainable communities.

 

THE SEED DEET:

Everything you need to know about planting, watering, growing and harvesting your Beauregarde Peas!

1. SOIL AND WATERING:

  • Like the Laxton's Progress, a sandy, neutral (pH 6-7.0) soil with adequate drainage qualities is best for this pea.
  • To water properly, don't let the soil dry out when peas are germinating or blooming or when the pods are swelling. Once the plants are up, they only need about ½ inch of water every week until they start to bloom; at that time, increase their water supply to 1 inch a week until the pods fill out.

2. GROWING, MATURATION, AND HARVESTING

  • Install trellis support for adequate growth and easy harvest, and make sure pea plants are spaced1-2″ apart. Sow seeds 1″ deep, when soil reaches 45 degrees fahrenheit. Do not thin. Sow additional plantings every two weeks until the weather warms beyond 70 degrees. For fall harvest, sow 8-10 weeks before first frost date. 7-14 days to emergence, slower in cold soil. Make sure to trellis the plant for extra support.
  • Seeds will reach maturity in 60-80 days, depending on season, soil and weather conditions. For peak flavor, Row 7 recommends waiting to harvest until small peas are visible in the pods, past traditional snow pea size. Bumps should be clearly pronounced: more than a traditional snow pea; less than a shelling pea.
  • Transplanting these peas is not recommended.

3. STORAGE

  • Store whole and dry under plastic in refrigeration. Peas will store up to one week maintaining crispness and flavor. Good for freezing and canning.

KNOW YOUR ZONE: 

Figure out the best time to sow your seeds for the perfect harvest! 

Zones 2-6: Plant March-May

Zone 7: Plant March-April

Zones 8 and 9: Plant January-March

Zone 10: Plant November-February 

Zone 11: Plant January-February