Our new pea trial of the year is the very pretty Lancashire Lad. The purple flowers and pods suggest that this was selected out of field peas. The purple pods make the peas easy to find, although once open the peas are a light olive green. They are smallish, and come 6 to 9 to a pod. We got them from Annapolis Seed
, who says that they are also good dried for soup, but we have been eating them fairly steadily, and won’t have enough to try that way. Unlike the other purple podded peas
we grew, these have only a very faint hint of bitterness to them when raw, and it disappears completely once they are cooked. Their flavour is very good, in fact. It also turns out that they are quite early for a pole pea, and they filled in for a few days when the Knight
had stopped and other, later, peas had not really started. They grew to about 6′ tall, which makes them a tall pea, but not the tallest by any means. It’s a little hard to say what their actual potential is, as the very hot and dry weather we are having is going to make this a short (both in vine length and duration) pea season all across the board.
We have a bit mixed feelings about these; the number of pods is high, the timing is good, they’re really very charming – yes, that counts for something -, they are quite tasty, and on the down-side the pods and peas are a little on the small side. This was once a highly sought-after trait, back in Victorian times when kitchen labour was cheap. Now I don’t hold even my own labour that cheap, and tend to prefer something faster to shell and accumulate a pile. Because the timing works so well with our other peas we may continue to plant a few of them just to fill that gap.
This olive green colour suggests that this is a fairly old pea, as modern varieties are almost always a brighter, stronger green. Now, just to make life more complicated, when I was searching out the history of Lancashire Lad, about all I could find was references to the fact that the pea in circulation as Lancashire Lad is not, in fact, Lancashire Lad, which should be a green-podded pea. Since I don’t believe anyone has found the original Lancashire Lad, this pea continues to circulate under that name, and I guess I will continue to call it that until it has another – I’m not holding my breath.
Other than that, it’s a pea, and you can expect it to behave as such. Early planting, support for the long vines, plenty of water and weather under 30°C will suit it best, but I have to say for a pea of fairly unsophisticated breeding, it has held up the hot, dry weather this year quite well. Mind you, we have been watering and picking just about every day. Should you lose track of them, though, field peas were originally soup peas and I suspect the claim that they make good pea soup is quite accurate. Maybe next year we will plant enough to find out.