Pretty Purple Peas

Here we are, early July and I’ve only just started to harvest peas. They were a non-starter at the end of March and into April, a mixture of mice digging up the seed, a population boom for slugs and snails, plus cold, wet soil, creating less than ideal growing conditions. Yes, I’m blaming our ‘lovely’ weather again!

The flowers of Shiraz mangetout are a special treat, they’re larger than the normal white flowers of green pea varieties but that’s not the main attraction. The mixed pink-coloured flowers are absolutely beautiful, even as they start to fade, turning blue and lilac with a vivid purple band before fading again to a papery pale lilac, revealing a small purple pea pod from within. The flowers create a stunning visual display, many shades of pink, purple, lilac and blue, merging together. The velvety purple of the long pea pods against the green foliage makes harvesting them really easy.

Not all of my Shiraz mangetout pods were purple. I spotted these striped and pure green pods emerging the other day. Interesting!

Purple mangetout are worth growing for the flowers alone, they’re far more showy than the sweet pea at the moment. It’s a shame the purple pods lose their vivid colour when cooked, they don’t exactly turn green though, more of a grey/green I’d say, which isn’t very attractive if I’m honest. Still, the flavour is lovely.

Mangetout freshly picked from your garden or allotment tastes so much better than those flown over in plastic trays. Shop bought mangetout are often soft in my experience, lacking that ‘crunch’ that fresh peas have. I will always grow them, the purple variety have earned their place on my seed list next year.

Prickly Peas and Carrots

This year I’ve had a real problem with mice digging up and eating my pea seed, also snails and slugs eating my carrot seedlings. Thanks to my slimy and furry foe I’ve had 3 long rows of carrots wiped out and endless amounts of pea seeds.

I’ve started the carrots again, carefully placing clippings from our holly tree around the rows. I switched from direct sowing of peas to sowing in modules (I must get on the guttering train), along with purple and green mangetout in the greenhouse. I planted out a tray of Shiraz mangetout last weekend, placing lots of holly clippings around the base of each seedling.

Hopefully the prickly holly will protect my peas and emerging carrots.