Hooray for the Red, White and Purple

comments (0) July 3rd, 2013

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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The lovely lavender pea blossoms started blooming in early June.
The purple podded peas were planted in April, and by May they had started growing in earnest.
The plants are now loaded with thin purple pods that are slowly plumping up. The pods need to dry on the vine before they can be harvested.
The lovely lavender pea blossoms started blooming in early June.Click To Enlarge

The lovely lavender pea blossoms started blooming in early June.

Photo: Jodi Torpey

The purple podded peas I planted in April are now looking fat and happy. These are the seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library's One Seed, Many Gardens seed saving program.

It seems appropriate to talk about seed saving around the time we celebrate Independence Day. When gardeners save their seeds, they're not only saving part of our country's important agricultural history but also helping maintain an independent source of open-pollinated seeds.

As the folks at Hudson Valley Seed Library say, "Working together, we can keep seeds where they belong: in the dirty hands of caring gardeners."

Each purple podded pea that I grow is part of the tradition of handing down seeds through the generations. By the end of the season, I'll have some of these dry peas to store for winter to use in soul-satisfying soups.

I'll also have a good supply of purple podded peas (also called "Blauwschokker" or "Capucijner' soup peas) to return to the seed library. The library plans to redistribute the peas to school gardens and community groups for planting next season.

I planted my supply of seeds in April, they started growing well in May, flowered in June and now the thin purple pods are getting plump as they mature.

I know of some gardeners who couldn't resist the tender, beautiful pods and ate them until they were gone. But these soup peas need to dry on the vine before harvesting.

Once they're mature, I'll pick the pods, shell the dried peas and return a small packet of the seeds to the library.

That's borrowing the way nature--and history--intended.

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