Growing multiple varieties of vegetables is the tradition at Robbins Farm Garden. So it is with our Peas. This year, we grew three types: Snap (Sugar Snap), Snow (Mammoth Melting Sugar) and Shell (Alderman).The Sugar Snap Peas performed well enough last year to justify a repeat performance, covering our 7-foot high bamboo trellis which also serves as the platform for the late season Pole Beans. Yet, the bush-type Snow and Shell Peas we grew last year were not the best use of vertical space.
The search for a tall Snow Pea was easy. Mammoth Melting Sugar is an heirloom variety, considered one of the largest and finest flat pod peas on the market. They grew, not unexpectedly, terrifically well in our garden. A tall variety of Shell Pea was more difficult to find. We decided upon Alderman, a variety marketed by Thompson & Morgan.
Alderman is a later pea (85 days to maturity vs. 70 for Sugar Snap & 68 for Mammoth Melting Sugar), but it did not disappoint. The plants grew as quickly -- and as tall -- as the other Peas, and the production was every bit as good. Fresh from the pod, they rival snap peas for flavor and sweetness. One warning: they require very little cooking, and they lose their flavor if over-cooked.
The Pea plants were pulled today and Pole Beans planted in their place. Overall, I would have to rate this year's Pea crop as outstanding, with a solid month of harvest.