Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Mummy peas

The May edition of Country Living has Patti O'Brien sowing what she calls "mummy peas" - allegedly descendants from peas found in the pyramids. This reminded me of some I grew a few years back, with seed from the (then) HDRA seed scheme, which is a wonderful way of preserving the older varieties, by passing them around and getting themg rown as much as possible. A bit like the old adage that the best way to preserve rare breeds of farm animals is to eat them - sound s bit odd, but the ultimate truth.
The peas I got were called "Prew's Special"; a small number of seeds gave a high enough yield for saving some, which had been stashed away. I unearthed them from the seed box, and sowed them yesterday.
This is what the HDRA says about them:

"Donated by Peter Feltham of Dymock in Gloucestershire, sent to us with an intriguing postscript at the end of the letter, ".....apparently the peas originated in Egypt." Many ,etter and phone calls later we traced them back to a gardener at Lord Portman's estate in Dorset during the 1920s. The son of the then Lord Portman was said to have been given the peas by Lord Carnarvon, who allegedly found them when he opened the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. A few months after opening the tomb Lord Carnarvon was struck dead, it was said, by the mummy's curse. Seed Guardain Phillip Hunphrey reports this is a "reasonable pea in both size and quality. Branches out enthusiastically - good taste, heavy cropper"

My seeds are several years old now, but should be fine for producing peas, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they get on. Hopefully I'll have enough to save some more and pass them on to others and keep the variety going.

The story may or may not be true, but I'd like to think it is; it's ncie to grow something with a bit of history, no matter how dubious the facts may seem, and the Dorset connection is interesting for me too. Will try and remember to report back.

In the meantime, this is Patti O'Brien's lovely site:



Eco Gites of Lenault said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how you get on with the Prew's Special. I tried some last year with no success - but then I never seem to do very well with any peas. Even this years crop has only about a 25% germination rate. Don't know what I do wrong - I can grow mangetout though.

Rosie x

MrsL said...

Must admint, my mange tout do better than ordinary peas. My favourite is the purple podded ones, although the actual peas aren;t that tasty and soon turn starchy. Pods make good wine, though :)