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The practicalities of growing quite a lot of pea varieties

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  • The practicalities of growing quite a lot of pea varieties

    I know that much beautifully interesting work has gone on among forum members in breeding peas and therefore at handling lots of varieties. My wonderings at the moment are at a very basic level.
    This year I have far more varieties to try and experiment with than ever before, thanks largely to triffid. I want to do them justice. I’m thinking of starting off each variety by sowing about three to a roottrainer, perhaps about eight roottrainers per variety. So far I’ve grown climbing peas up cane wigwams helped with string between the canes, one variety to a wigwam.
    I’m keen to get going. So, one or two basic questions. Would I be better to wait a couple of weeks or is now fine? And what are the least complicated ways (perhaps simpler than the routine I’ve described above?) of growing and training several varieties and keeping them distinct which have been found to work?

  • #2
    Roottrainers are fine. As are paper pots, as are yoghurt pots as are whatever you can lay your hands on that provides 4 inches or deeper of root space for the seedlings. Planting out is about a month after sowing, so time your sowing accordingly. Is your ground ready by then?. A glance at the long term weather forecast is not a bad idea either. I normally start in February to March, plant out in March to April and cover with bottle cloches. They can take several degrees of frost but the plants are quite brittle, a load of heavy snow or huge winds will do seedlings no good at all. Hide all remnants of the seed pea or mice will have a feast.

    Separation is your friend. Tall peas can so easily grow into each other and it takes a lot of time to follow a wayward plant from the base to make sure that what you see is what you think you planted. Wide spaces, if you can, with stuff in between. A bit of a problem because that other stuff gets shaded, but nevertheless aim at good separation of varieties. Cheap patio slabs, especially the smaller type that is not so heavy is a reasonable separator with the advantage that you can stand on them too to tend the plants. But the actual size of a small patio slab is simply not enough between tall varieties, you need twice that spacing and it is still a squeeze to get between the corrals even so. Beds of course are great, if you have them.

    Wigwams are fine, but peas are probably better corralled, ie a long stake in each corner of the growing area for any given variety and then strings running between the stakes. Where you only have one plant or two it will be just one stake. Tying up has to be done regularly as tall peas can grow very quickly and it is physically quite hard to lift up plants while tying in or running string on the outside of a variety corral.

    Pea flowering is only for a relatively short time. So if you need flower colour for identification or want to mark a certain flower it has to be done promptly. In a few days colour identifiers are over. You need a system for marking that makes sense, won't fade, stays put and is also written down in a book. Call me pea brained, but it is useless for me to think I will remember! I certainly will not and therefore need to have it written down right at the time. I am never in the garden without my gardening notebook.

    The most difficult separation and identification problems are where F2 plants are growing as one patch rather than each on a separate cane support. For those flower colour and pod colour need to be marked if it is relevant to the new varieties I want to breed. Where I have grown them in one patch it has always been difficult, but of course the extra work to grow each plant separately is considerable.

    Where short or long plants are expected after a cross it is important to plant so short plants are not just crowded out. Fortunately you can see whether a plant is going to be short or long at the seedling stage. But some plants are considerably shorter and weaker than others nevertheless. I think that real observation can only be performed on plants that are separate. But all of us only have so much land to play with.

    There are too many adverse things like fading pens, winds removing planting sticks etc etc. I find that strands of multicolour wool tied on or sewing thread tied on (harder to see but more delicate than wool for identifying crossed pods) works. By using two colours in combination you only need a few wool colours for a lot of marking possibilities. The jewellery tags used in seed banks are only suitable for greenhouse growing. Outside they will disintegrate in rain. You can write on mature pea pods with biro which lasts several weeks but better is the longer lasting pen to write on CDs. As I said, I mostly use biro and rarely have to refresh my notes on pods but then pods do not stay on plants for long if they are significant to a new cross I take them indoors well leathery but not crisp dry. On crispy dry pods it is very hard to read biro markings. Plant labels also get tied on and written in pencil (soft pencil is best but ordinary works), as pencil survives a season of sunlight well. Plant labels stuck in at the bottom of the plants get removed by birds or sink into the ground in the next hard rain or I tread on them and break them. How do I know? Been there done that.

    Plant labels get tied on the outside of plant supports, on the inside of strong plants it takes a long time to find a plant label. I still spend stupid amounts of time finding labels that are hidden by strong growing plants. But I do have a backup plan for that also. A drawing of the location of every pea variety relative to each other and relative to other features in the garden with the appropriate labelling. Say for example, in line with the rosebush at the end of the bed, I have 6 pea varieties running towards the holly at the other end. So I make a simple drawing in my book with rose, holly and six circles in between and each circle has the name of the variety written in. A lost plant label in plant number 4 can therefore be duplicated. Planting is a very busy time with many peas. Immediately after planting I never remember what what planted where, there is just too much of it. Later in the season as I observe and start harvesting, I learn the position and names of varieties by heart automatically and by the end of the season I need to refer to labels or the book only rarely.

    And a final check at the end of the season is always whether the seeds harvested are indeed what I expected them to be. If possible leave one typical seed in the packet (or make a note or a photo of the seed size and colour) if not possible, and compare what you harvest.
    Last edited by Galina; 16-02-2020, 09:49.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well! How wonderful to get such an answer. I very much appreciate this full detailed and extremely helpful account of your growing practices honed, I’m sure, over many years. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer so fully.

      I’m familiar with the ease with which confusion and forgetfulness can occur from growing beans on quite a large scale , but the differences between peas seem somewhat more subtle to the eye so I can well imagine how easy it is to lose track. I shall take note of many of your tips and continue to ponder.

      A quick immediate question about the early stage. What do you use for the tall stakes you corral pea plants with. This is something stronger than canes presumably?

      Comment


      • Galina
        Galina commented
        Editing a comment
        I use a mix of materials and do not necessarily create the final support all in one go.
        Last edited by Galina; 16-02-2020, 11:19.

    • #4
      I have recycled plastic panda sticks, normal bamboo sticks, tall straight prunings from the elderberry bushes, fat 8ft bamboo sticks, whatever goes and is available. Not that systematic, but I can always insert an extra cane or two if it looks not strong enough. Quite short and sturdy, say 4ft sticks at the base give a lot of initial stability with extra canes being added. It is an ongoing process, especially with new peas where I do not know how vigorous or dainty they are going to be. The Panda sticks are a bit bendy, but give the height for the tallest varieties (also good for beans). Many birthday presents from this company: http://www.pandastix.co.uk/juststix/juststix.html

      If you can get other materials especially for low down strength, use those. Just thinking about the steel stakes that hold up temporary plastic builders fences or reinforcing concrete steel if you can get it cheap.
      https://jmdbuildingsupplies.co.uk/pr...0aAozmEALw_wcB
      There is no right way of doing it, just a way that is strong enough. Do the old allotment gents with cloth caps not swear by hazel sticks for their runner beans? I have never been able to find any of those, but the elders in the hedge need trimming and those sticks are straight and 4 to 5 foot long. Bamboo is only good for a few seasons and freshly cut hedge sticks can root. Needless to say my garden is not a uniform pretty picture of all the same supports, but covered with lush growing peas, you won't see the supports anyway.

      I love obelisks too (another present over many years), and I now have a dozen of strong metal obelisks. Stick one into the soil, there is an instant pea corral, but only for a limited amount of plants of course. A front garden luxury.
      https://www.rhsplants.co.uk/product/...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
      There are cheap ones too which work ok, but they do eventually perish. I had a couple of these for about 7 or 8 years.
      https://www.wilko.com/en-uk/wilko-si...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
      Last edited by Galina; 16-02-2020, 12:03.

      Comment


      • #5
        Thank you again for all these very helpful leads.

        Coincidentally, my partner cut down three pollarded hazels today and generated a lot of strong tall fairly straight sticks. I’m looking forward to trying them out. I’ve also invested over the years in quite a few wooden tree stakes from the local builders’ merchants for 70p a time I think. They don’t last for ever but should provide some lower strength.

        I like the idea of building and adjusting as the peas grow and corralling rather than wigwaming from the outset. This has been a really helpful perspective. Important not to go away for more than a couple of days!

        I have five foot wide beds with grass paths between. A double row of corrals down the length of a bed accessed from each side might well work.

        I’ve had pigeons sitting on the tops of structures and making serious inroads into pea plants. But I imagine a piece of mesh across the top might help if necessary.

        Thank you again for all the suggestions and the links, and the detailed insight into methods and approaches. Lots of food for thought and the beginnings of plans which feel very workable.

        Comment


        • #6
          How are they coming along Jang?

          Comment


          • #7
            So far, really good. I'm very much enjoying watching them grow inch by inch and noting any colouration etc. I'm growing:

            Bijou Meteor
            Carouby de Mausanne Panthers
            Jaune de Madras Prew's Special
            Oregon Sugar Pod Robinson
            Shiraz Stokesley
            Alderman Sutton's Achievement
            Avi Juan Magnolia Blossom
            Bullroyd Bean Pea Opal Creek
            Clarke's Beltony Blue Shiraz
            Douce Provence Spring Blush
            Early Onward Sugar Magnolia
            Freer's Mummy Sugaree
            Jaerert Irish Prean
            Kent Blue
            I'm unsure how far the structures will survive strong winds as they become more top-heavy and there are still pigeons and pod-stripping rodents to ward off later in the season but so far this year there has been much less trouble from predators of all kinds, partly because I've put energies (and money) into rabbit defences.

            How are yours getting on?

            Comment


            • #8
              Still not all planted here, others have been in and established for several weeks. And yesterday I had a thought of 'must sow these, must sow those' and have started more, probably very late. Looking forward to those first flowers, but not for a little while unfortunately.

              Comment


              • Jang
                Jang commented
                Editing a comment
                That does sound like quite a leap of conditions. Seems appealingly vibrant in many ways.
                Here the cherries and plums have finished flowering.
                Is your first likely frost earlier as well, do you know? Shorter season generally for tender vegetables?

              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Not sure about first autumn frost date. But as it is sunnier and so much more blue skies I guess tender vegetables will grow much faster. I remember a year in the 90s where we had no, zero, sunshine for a whole six weeks during July and August with daytime temperatures of 16 maximum. Just heavy, claggy cloud, yet no rain. A desperate struggle to ripen tomatoes outside of the greenhouse and it also was a heavy blight year. I don't think this is going to happen in this climate. But by the same token I don't know yet what will happen.

              • Jang
                Jang commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes, I have some recent fairly superficial experience of Norway where summer comes very late and finishes earlier but where prolonged day length accelerates growing within the shorter season. There it's simply hours of daylight rather than temperatures or hours of actual bright sunshine, but another illustration of the fact that a growing season isn't just a question of number of days between frosts.

            • #9
              Great list, nice to see Jaerert on there. Are you growing them with a cereal?
              So far I've planted the new varieties I selected from the HSL 2020 list, plus a seed guardians gift named "Jackson Grey Back". Aside from their prescribed description I know nothing of this variety.

              I'm also guardian for "Twelve Acre" for the 2nd consecutive year, plus this year's choice of "May Queen". And more recently I took on a 3rd variety, "Kola Kapucijner", after they sent that email about their difficulties with growing at Ryton this year. Apparently Kola had the lowest subscriptions.

              Having some trouble with Alderman, a lot of seed rotting, not sure if it's me or the batch of seed is poor.
              Most of the other varieties I had aimed to plant this year, especially those for seed increase, may have to be put on hold.

              Comment


              • Jang
                Jang commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes, Jaerert came about through following your link for the perennial rye which I succumbed to too. I'm. not intending to grow them together as I thought I'd get the rye going this season and see how it does. Jaerert is a bit late to the party as it didn't arrive till the end of March but it's germinated well and is a couple of inches.
                I'm guessing that it's not too tall but haven't found any definite information except that it's a small pea, a bit petit pois like I think. My partner is Norwegian so it was irresistible to get in touch with a bit of Norwegian vegetable heritage which had seemed rather scarce otherwise.

                Prew's Special got off to a particularly strong start and emerged from its protective bottles ahead of all others.

                My Alderman haven't rotted (seed from Seekay) but they are not as vigorous as some others. I don't know whether that's characteristic of the variety or not.

                How did you find Twelve Acre last year? And are you using the rye to support?

              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                I know Kola under the name Kool's Langstro Rozyn Erwt. This one does need staking well. I got them from Jaap Vlaming and he mentioned the name Kola, but I thought it was more of a nickname. Ko for Kools and la for Langstro ie tall pea. Here is the history. https://www.zaderij.nl/kola.html

                Not clear to me why HSL are preserving this variety, which is popular and easily available in its homeland. By the same token it is indeed a very nice pea with very large seeds and I am glad that your guardianship Triffid makes it more available for many.
                Last edited by Galina; 13-04-2020, 07:29.

              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Seed rotting is either due to too damp or seeds too old. The method of putting old pea seeds into a standard sprouter works well for me. This sort of thing. They are never too damp and you can pick out easily what germinates and what does not without committing seeds to soil and have nothing come up. Wet, but not dripping folded kitchen towel in a plastic fast food container with lid and peas on top also works well. Good luck germinating your Aldermans. https://www.jandevrieshealth.co.uk/a...QaAruSEALw_wcB
                Last edited by Galina; 13-04-2020, 07:33.

            • #10
              I found this link on the NordGen page for Jaerert, might be useful if you haven't seen it already https://www.jaermuseet.no/samlingar/...0_Bakkevig.pdf
              It's definitely a small round pea, probably dual purpose as a soup pea?

              Twelve Acre grew well, tasted sweet, smallish pods - cannot really elucidate, I only ate a couple. This year I'll sample them in a meal. If I can clear beds in time and use the rye at all this year I'll commit half to peas and the other half will be control. I'm really quite excited about growing a 2m+ grain which I could hide behind, but not being about to get around to the allotment (new plot, a lot to clear) at this critical time is tripping up a lot of my projects. Best of luck with it!

              Galina, when I first looked up Kola I was surprised, too. Not only because it is commercially available in the NL, but because it was a 'grey pea' with marbled testa and black hilum, yet had white flowers! I'd only ever seen these traits with purple flowers, so had assumed they were linked. Obviously not! The HSL writes the Dutch donor likes to eat them with shrimp, bacon and mustard, so I'm very happy to be growing them.
              Thanks for the tip for Alderman, I had used the damp paper towel method and many were just slipping out of their skins and falling apart. And then came the soul shattering smell of rotting legumes. Will give them another go.

              Comment


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Know what you mean, the sliminess of rotting peas is not nice either. But you only need a few to build up your own stronger stock. Good luck.

              • Jang
                Jang commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you for the link, triffid. Stumbled through some kind of translation of quite detailed history of pea, bean etc and yes, I think Jaerert is dual purpose and with strong quite woody stems. I'll report on early stages hopefully before too long.

            • #11
              http://data.jic.ac.uk/pgene/
              Triffid, the marble seed coat M is in linkage group III. Allied to a-2 among other features.
              Description of a-2: White flowers. Blocks anthocyanin production in other tissues eg. seed coat, leaf axils and epicotyl. Reduces thickness of testa.
              Or as the Dutch seed company puts it (translated) When cooked, Kola has a thinner skin than capuchins.

              Comment


              • triffid
                triffid commented
                Editing a comment
                Fascinating

              • Jang
                Jang commented
                Editing a comment
                Puzzling about the marbled testa of some Carouby de Maussane seeds in that the flowers are the common purplish blue. This seems to be the likely combination of features.
                But have I understood from the linkage of M with a-2 that marbled testa are usually associated with white flowers or is this only one of a few possible linkages?

            • #12
              I think purple flowering is the norm for marble seeds, but white flowered is possible. Triffid above queried why Kola is the white flowered exception rather than if marbled it must be white flowered. Clearly your marbled Carouby and other varieties are purple flowered.

              Comment


              • Jang
                Jang commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for the clarification.

              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Just wanted to add that Unity is of course marble seeded and flowers not bi-tone purple but crimson. But n o t white. White is possible but rare.
                Last edited by Galina; 09-04-2021, 07:23.

            • #13
              Since I don't have a lot of space available for what I call my "experimental peas", seed saving, etc., I've had to get a bit creative. I do a LOT of tying plants together in loose bunches so they don't get mixed up with the next variety which might only be inches away. I individually mark a lot of pods/flowers/stems.

              My breeding/saving area used to be a tiny patio, 3m x 2.1m surrounded by a low brick wall about 40cm high on three sides. I've added 60cm wide raised beds along the two longer sides but of course I can't grow two foot wide rows of peas - the back 6 inches or so is realistically it! Plenty of room in front for herbs, flowers, quick salad mixes, TPS projects, etc.

              This year I've added cheap metal arches covered in 50mm chicken wire to make the whole area into a kind of tunnel, with the peas growing up the sides. It's gonna look lovely when the plants start flowering! I'm tying the plant to keep them neatly together so they don't mix too much as they get taller.

              As for separating varieties/projects, I carefully plan where everything's going so every group is distinguishable from the next by height, flower colour, pod colour or pod type, or even plant habit in the case of hypertendril/acacia/crown/etc peas. No good growing two yellow-podded types right next to each other unless they have an obvious difference so I can tell them apart!

              I mark every flower/pod of my seed-saving plants with wool or thread and when I'm ready to harvest the drying pods I use a sharpie to mark them before I bring them inside, because the wool/thread marker inevitably falls off when the pod isn't attached to the plant anymore.

              With crosses I mark only the flowers/pods which show the characteristics I want, e.g. all the magenta flowers in my population of Golden Sweet x Absolute Zero. It depends on the genetics involved though - when I grew out my Telephone x Unity F2s I marked all the crimson flowers and saved those pods, but I also saved from purple-flowered pods that year as well because a proportion of them would throw crimsons in the F3 (kind of a backup, I guess, which I didn't really need in the end as I had a ton of crimson F2s). White flowers were also marked so I knew to add them to my "rejects" collection, which is used for growing pea shoots. Those white flowered plants wouldn't ever make crimson babies, so they might as well make me a salad instead.

              I'm always trying new ways to do things so my methods evolve over time. So far the chicken wire arches are rock solid and the young plants are climbing neatly with the help of occasional bits of garden twine to keep them together and not flap in the wind too much.

              There's 21 different varieties or crosses in there at the moment and I should be able to squeeze quite a few more in when the plants are ready to go out.

              Comment


              • #14
                I love your micro-management, and the attention to detail necessary if any really successful breeding work is to take place. The arch sounds great, very much in keeping with your aim to make pea growing fully ornamental.

                In contrast, I have a fair bit of space, in fact in theory as much as I have time, energy and strength to cultivate. But of course, the more I cultivate, the more there is to weed and generally care for. My main pea growing area is something of a bottle and stick park, not beautiful, probably, to any eyes but my own! Photo to follow perhaps.

                Last year was the first crossing I attempted, so this season I simply have four lots of F1 to grow and monitor. One cross has just one plant. But lots to observe and manage in terms of unusual varieties to nurture and decisions to be made about what crosses to attempt in this coming season of flowering.

                Is flower colour your main aim, Silverleaf? And is your crimson-flowered line stabilised to your satisfaction? Any particular project this year? All great exciting stuff! Lovely when the first flowers start opening.
                Last edited by Jang; 09-04-2021, 07:05.

                Comment


                • Galina
                  Galina commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Silverleaf, this new growing space sounds so much better than the few pots you had before and very small growing area. Wish you very good luck. The arches sound great. Also looking forward to a few photos.
                  Last edited by Galina; 09-04-2021, 08:08.

                • Silverleaf
                  Silverleaf commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I’m mostly interested in flower colours but I also have some red pods and one of my first crosses was Golden Sweet x Sugar Ann for yellow snap.

                  Sometimes I try something just to see what happens, or to confirm what genes a variety has (I crossed Elisabeth with a known b accession to check - pink flowers in the F1 meant that Elisabeth is definitely b). My magenta flower came from wondering what dark yellow pods would look like!

                  I’m growing out the F4 of my crimson project this year and I think it’s going okay. I’ve saved from crimson plants the last two generations and I’ve always had a higher proportion of crimsons than expected anyway. I’m still getting white flowers pop up but not many, and that will keep decreasing over the generations as I cull whites. So far I haven’t selected for anything other than flower colour, but because I’ve saved every seed from crimson plants they are naturally selecting themselves for production. I’m not sure what my plan is with it for this year yet.

              • #15
                Jang you asked about traits being or becoming stable. A few thoughts.

                After the cross of a coloured with a white flowered type (Silverleaf's rainbow peas based on white flowering Telephone crossed with some of the exciting lesser known other pea flower colours), the coloured flowering type is dominant, but will always throw off some white recessives. This process of eliminating white flowered plants will go on for some years until the dominant flower colour is stable.

                Whereas the magenta flowers are a stable recessive trait in our experience (in Silverleaf's Golden Sweet and Absolute Zero cross) and therefore stable for flower colour once these recessive magenta flowers show themselves. The 'not magenta' flowered peas in the above cross will also continue to develop a few of these recessive flowers over the next few generations with decreasing frequency. But the offspring from the magenta will only be magenta.

                If you are looking for a recessive trait it is stable once achieved, if you are looking for a dominant trait, you will have to eliminate recessives for generations if one of the parents had the recessive trait. It is therefore easier to breed for a recessive trait as this remains stable, once achieved.

                Another example. my purple flowered mangetout 'Court Estate Gold' x white flowered snap 'Amish Snap' cross. The recessive yellow pod colour and the recessive snap pod trait I was lucky to see very quickly and that was Charlie's Goldsnap essentially stable as a golden coloured snap pea, bred from a golden mangetout and a green snap. However after a couple of years I was surprised (although I shouldn't have been) to see recessive white flowers as well as the dominant purple flowers. Makes no difference to the pods, but to distinguish them from the white flowering Opal Creek, I want to maintain them as purple flowering. And that will take several more generations to get a stable dominant purple flower colour. Fortunately in this cross I can see any that are going to be white flowering from the pure green seed, which has no purple speckles, so can eliminate at the seed stage. Any that will flower purple also have some purple or brown in the seeds.

                Had I been able to use a purple flowered green snap pea as a parent for this cross I would not now see the occasional white flowered Charlie's Goldsnap, because both parents would have been the same flower colour.
                Last edited by Galina; 09-04-2021, 08:45.

                Comment


                • Jang
                  Jang commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thanks. I've started some notes on helpful guidelines as I think retaining some of the characteristics of gene behaviour will begin to stick only when I'm using it more. 

                  Just been rereading the Golden Sweet x Absolute Zero thread. Interesting.

                • Silverleaf
                  Silverleaf commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Recessive traits are nice and easy to work with once you’ve got them, because like Galina says if you’re seeing the recessive phenotype you know you’ve got two copies of the recessive gene (or gene combination).

                  My crimson plants will now only ever produce crimson anthocyanins in flowers but of course I also have the recessive anothocyanin off-switch of the a allele from Telephone lurking in the background.

                  The beautiful thing with self-pollinating plants though is that you really don’t have to do anything other than grow them out to stabilise them. It should take around 7 generations for a trait to be pretty much fixed. You might get the odd rogue showing up, but the vast majority of plants are going to breed true at that point.

                  I have to admit this concept didn’t click with me at all at first, because after studying population genetics I had the idea of outbreeders mating randomly fixed in my head, which keeps things fairly mixed. Self-pollinators don’t follow those rules!
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