BY CATE HENDERSON
Peas are a lovely cool-weather crop, one of the first seeds to actually be planted in the soil of the gardens, even when it is still too cold for most vegetables. One of the pea varieties is called Champion of England. What a glorious name!
According to the non-profit group Heritage Seed Library (which used to be called the Henry Doubleday Research Association): “This English marrowfat pea was bred in 1843 as Fairbeards’ Champion of England and was judged the best pea by the Journal of Horticulture in 1876. This is a tall variety (over 1.8m) requiring strong supports. Reliable and vigorous, it produces white flowers followed by a heavy crop of pods, generously filled with sweet, wrinkled seeds.”
The Champion of England pea is one of 10 pea varieties the Heritage Seed Sanctuary inherited from its previous caretakers, Carol and Robert Mouck. They describe it as: “Fairbeard’s famous pea, wrinkled, tender, sweet, 1843, 5’ plants.”
We will be growing five pea varieties this year, including varieties with equally ambitious names, such as Dark Green Perfection and Dwarf Gray Sugar. Peas self-pollinate and dry down on the vine, so they are an easy seed to save. Everyone should try it!