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.

Gardening with my Son

I had a great time teaching my 11-year-old son to sow seed at the beginning of the week, he seemed to enjoy himself, even though gardening isn’t his thing. Right now, to him, gardening just isn’t ‘cool’. I’m sure there are boys of his age that do take an interest in gardening, my son isn’t one of them.

The recent half-term holiday dragged on a little too long for him, he had an extra day at home due to teacher training and he was bored. Very bored. I suggested he could help out in the garden, a blank expression crept onto his face so I acted quickly before he had time to complain or think about what I’d just said. Out came the camera, seed packet, tray, watering can and a bag of potting compost. Boy, compost, water. The idea of gardening with me suddenly seemed OK – he could make a mess!

I gave him all the things he needed, quickly ran through what he needed to do then sat back and watched him get on with it. He had great fun filling the tray with compost, watering and making little planting holes in the compost with his fingers, dropping a pea seed into each one. Once the seeds were in the planting holes he carefully covered them with soil. I think he did a good a job, most importantly I also think he enjoyed it.

We got our pea seeds from T&M, variety Mangetout ‘Shiraz’. I’m looking forward to seeing the pods develop, being purple they will stand out against the green of the plants, making picking easier. The flowers are bicoloured and edible. To get your purple mangetout seeds or to find out more, visit Thompson & Morgan’s website: