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Gravedigger Peas

I seem to have missed the opportunity to photograph these peas close up, as I was too busy shelling them and eating them. There they are a little earlier in the season, setting pods like crazy, along with one lone and solitary Sugar Magnolia which seems to have gotten slightly lost. They are over and done long since, of course.

We grew them last year for the first time. I have wanted to try them ever since I read about them on Rebsie Fairholm’s blog, so I was quite excited to see them listed by Annapolis Seeds. We planted a nice little patch last spring, and when we picked the first couple of pods to try, Mr. Ferdzy and I looked at each other in amazement and promptly agreed to eat no more – because we wanted to grow them out for seed, so we could grow masses of them this year.

Their history is not much known. They are English, and probably date back to the 19th century; no earlier. They were donated to the Heritage Seed Library who named them, as is their custom, for the furthest grower back to whom they can be traced; in this case a man who was a gravedigger by trade and pea grower by vocation. Rebsie says pretty much all that is known about them. 

We planted them a bit late this year and so they were not particularly early to produce. I think at any rate they are a mid-to-late-season pea, of a middle height. They are extremely bushy and dense, and produce heavily but somewhat slowly – a nice pea for the home gardener, since they should produce for a few weeks. I think ours were cut a bit short by the very hot dry weather this year but they still went longer than most peas. We will want to grow them in our trellised beds, I think, even though they are not the tallest. Their substance does mean they should get good support.

The pods are fat, and full. I don’t think most will have more than 6 peas, but the peas are quite large. They are a lighter green than modern peas tend to be but they are so tender and flavourful. The peas tend to be a bit more ovoid than round. They are really quite distinctive and a little different than any of the other peas we have grown.

These are very obscure and rare, and I am so happy that Annapolis seeds was able to get hold of them. I can see already that these are going to be one of our must-grow favourite varieties.

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