Seed & Plant Reviews

The Dilemma of Pea Varieties

Peas have long been my favorite garden snack. Ever since I was a kid, you would often find me wandering the pea patch popping pods. So needless to say, peas take up a major percentage of my garden plot.

The one thing I didn’t (and still don’t) like about peas is trying to pick them when the plant is wet with dew or last night’s rain shower, and the plant, for one reason or another, is off the fence and on the ground. Then you’ve got to pick the cold, wet, muddy things. Wouldn’t it be nice to somehow avoid all that?

Well, last spring I had an idea. I had seen in a seed catalog a new variety of peas – Greensage. This variety, as the catalog said, was “a semi-leafless vine that makes the pods easier to see and harvest and produces a more upright vine.” These Greensage Peas might just be the answer to my problems.

So, that spring I planted three varieties of peas – Homesteader, Green Arrow, and Greensage – in equal amounts. The results? Well, take a look…

Greensage Peas

The plants were very viney, and the stuck very well to the chicken wire fence that I had put up for them – even in heavy winds and hail. The Green Arrow and Homesteader had a much greater tendency to fall off the fence in those situations. Due to the lack of leaves, the pods were much easier to see, but the massive amounts of tendrils made picking almost more difficult, as some pods were stuck behind a jungle of entangled tendrils.

When compared with the Green Arrow and Homesteader, the Greensage pods were quite small and we didn’t enjoy the taste of the Greensage peas as much.

Green Arrow Homesteader Greensage
Yield (pails of pods) 8 9 6
Flavor Good Good Ok
Easy of Picking Best Good Poor
Uprightness (with fence) Good Good Best

So make your conclusions as you will. It really depends on what’s most important to you. If your space is limited, Homesteader certainly gives the best yield. If you’re concerned about keeping the pods out of the dirt, the Greensage is the way to go.

As for me, I’m sticking with the Green Arrow and Homesteader. But I have heard good things about Mr. Big peas… Perhaps next year.

6 replies on “The Dilemma of Pea Varieties”

I have a gardening question for you. My husband and I live in Bruderheim, Alberta and we just started a garden this year. We planted peas (I think sugar snap and snow peas.) Are pea plants climbing plants? They are starting to droop and look like they need something to hold on to. They’ve done well so far, but I’m afraid if I leave them any longer, that they’ll die. Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Erin Petrella

Yes. Peas do climb. You should put up some sort of fence/trellis for them to climb up. Three feet tall would do, but four to five feet would likely be better.

Did you ever try Mr. Big? How about any of the Edible Pods? I live in Alberta too, thanks for all the great gardening information – I am going through your blog as I read the T&T seed catelogue!!

Sherry: I have tried Mr. Big. It’s a fun novelty pea (good to show the neighbors and such), but for freezing I usually stick with homesteader or Green Arrow.

Pamila: You should still get a crop of peas if you planted them anytime between now and… say… the first couple weeks of June – depending on variety (and how soon the frosts come this fall).

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