Friday, July 13, 2012

Dry peas for seed storing

Bowl full of dry peas for seed saving

In my usual highly organized way, I was walking by a pea patch and noticed that it was ready to be harvested for dry peas. In fact, some of the pods had shattered so in order not to lose any more, I hastily started stuffing them into my shirt. This got me thinking about other pea patches so I went to those too and added to them to my shirt basket. After all, I'll be able to tell them apart right. Right? Actually, the varieties I grabbed are pretty easy to identify but I don't recommend this as good seed saving technique.

Three pods: top to bottom: golden podded (originally from Cottage Gardener), arbogast (originally from Extreme Gardener) and purple podded (originally from Bifucated Carrot

Good seed saving technique begins when you notice a plant, or better yet several plants, growing exceptionally well in the way you want it to. Either it has disease resistance, high productivity in difficult weather, pest resistance, an interesting pod, leaf characteristic or growth pattern. You would mark that plant with a piece of coloured string, for example, and say, "I will not pick these. These will be my mother plants."

The peas within: Golden Podded, Purple Podded Soup and Arbogast (one has some feeding damage at the end).

Then you will watch nervously hoping that nothing happens to your plant(s). When the peas are fully ripe and dry - easy to accomplish in this weather - you will gather them. Most years, because we have that thing called rain, I have to hedge my bets and pick when fully ripe and mostly dry but before the seeds germinate inside the pods or otherwise get ruined. You can pick them while still leathery but ripe to dry someplace before shelling. Just make sure they are hard as a pebble dry before storing in something air tight. I often store my peas in paper envelopes in order to help prevent rotting. Some people add desiccants to their seed storing containers. If I am going to store for more than a year, I usually transfer them to a glass jar at some point. Of course, the rule is cool and dry for seed storing. Did I mention dry?

Rouge out any seeds or pods that look diseased or eaten. Carefully check pea seeds for little holes that might indicate an insect interloper.

Interesting variation in my purple podded soup peas: the peas at the top have purple coloration as well.

The non-model gardener way (my way usually) is to note a particularly nice plant or patch of plants such as the yummy Blonde* pea with its luscious pods or that Petite Pois (I think) that was growing in a horrible part of the garden so well then say to myself "I must remember to leave some of those to grow on." Hopefully the children don't entirely raid them before I can communicate my intent.... like with the Petite Pois though I did manage to salvage sufficient planting material. Then I neglect them for awhile until I notice that I really should collect them.

Labelling is super important of course. I usually write not only the name of the plant but also pertinent growing information such as "was prolific in dry weather" or "very early" followed by the year I collected them. This is one thing I am becoming MUCH better at as I am tired of renaming my seeds 'mystery XYZ.'

Now, if you want to get fancy, you can do some pea breeding and experience a little Mendelian joy. A science project for the kids assuming they have long concentration spans. Here is a blog by pea breeder and organized person Rebsie: Daughter of the Soil. She's also into TPS (True Potato Seed - go ahead, throw that acronym around at parties) and more.

Another - Andrew's Blog - plant manipulator.


Daphne Gould said...

I used to try to save pea seeds like that. But my pea patch is so thick it is impossible to see which plant is which. So long ago I gave up trying. When I did I used to have pretty colored string tied on at each pea so I wouldn't mistakenly pick it.

watertanks said...

I want to grow these pea seeds. After read this great blog i will grow them.