No one who has read my blogs will be at all surprised to learn that I am interested in old varieties of vegetables. With these you should be able to get a real taste of the past. So when, last year, I found a stall at our county show which sold, amongst other things, some old varieties of pea. I was immediately attracted to the Purple-Podded Pea as I remembered reading about it in one of my old gardening books. I naturally bought a packet, and managed to grow a few plants (two in fact after a disaster with my propagator and a gale!).
I was curious to see what they were like, as the two books I had, that mentioned the variety, gave completely different opinions on the plants quality.
William Robinson, in his magisterial The Vegetable Garden of 1905, a companion volume to his well known English Flower Garden, considers that the Purple-Podded Pea is;
A curious but not very useful variety, with dark purple-coloured pods. The seed is large, grey-green, becoming brown when cooked, which lessens its value for table use.
On the other hand Eleanour Sinclair Rhode in her Uncommon Vegetables of 1943 holds that;
This is a very old variety and an excellent one. This is not merely my opinion, but apparently that of many of my customers, for I notice that the same people order it year after year. It is tall growing, quite six feet, with purple flowers and pods, and is very prolific.
So what do I thing, Mr Robinson or Miss Rhode. It is certainly tall, the pods are purple and the few peas that I have tried taste fine. However I will not have enough to cook for a meal this year. So I will let most of the pods ripen, collect the seed and try again next year.