22 April 2014

A Snow and Snap Pea Trial

I started my coloured snow pea breeding in a flurry - I didn't think through the parentage particularly, just happy to do crosses and see them work. But now as the fifth generation of crosses are in the ground, hopefully producing pods in a month or two, I've begun to think about flavour. I know, a bit late into the project, since I am trying to grow food, but there you go.

Flavour in vegetables is driven by both genetics and soil - think of the idea of terroir in wine growing. Weather also comes into it, but I don't have any control over the weather. I can amend the soil to introduce the right soil nutrients, but these will only work if the right genes are in the peas.

I'm after sweetness - I want a fibre-free pod, long and wide, with a sweet flavour. And it would be nice if that sweet flavour persisted as the pods developed, so that the baby peas inside were also sweet. Carol Deppe mentions a variety Oregon Giant Snow Pea that has sweet pods and peas, that can be used like sugar snap peas even as the pod fills. While the pod presumably doesn't have the thick walls of a sugar snap, it also doesn't have the genetic linkage to short pods, which is why we don't have (yet) a really large podded sugar snap pea.

So this week I sowed every snow and snap pea in my collection, including a few accessions from a seedbank. I'll be doing an autumn/winter taste test, tagging the varieties that taste the best, with the potential to cross these into my coloured snow and snap lines, if they prove to have poor taste once I stabilise them.
Here's the planting bed, followed by a list of the varieties sown.

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