a rainbow of peas, with peace seedlings

pea collage‘THE DREAM has always been a rainbow of peas,” Dylana Kapuler of Peace Seedlings was saying over the phone line, and sitting there, staring out my rainbow-free, melty-gray, still-under-snow world, that sounded really good. A rainbow of edible peas: not just green ones, but purple ones, and yellow ones, including varieties with rose or purple flowers that that have extra appeal to hummingbirds. Bring it on.

The evolving rainbow of peas at Peace Seedlings—with more colors to come—got its start with decades of breeding by Alan Kapuler, Dylana’s father, a longtime public-domain plant breeder and the founder of Peace Seeds.

(More on him, and on some of the other combined Kapuler treasures, from marigolds and zinnias to edible Andean tubers like oca and yacon, to a rainbow of beautiful beets, is at the end of this story.)

“We’re doing a lot of crosses and selecting ourselves now, too,” says Dylana of the work she and partner Mario DiBenedetto continue in collaboration with Alan and his wife, Linda, in Corvallis, Oregon. “We have a great set of parents to work with from his legacy.” (Funny how that last statement about great parents works on both the human and plant-genetic levels.)

In the Peace Seedlings list, you won’t find the usual suspects—no ‘Sugar Snap’ or ‘Sugar Ann,’ no ‘Cascadia’ or ‘Tall Telephone.’ And though they don’t sell them, Dylana still plants the heirlooms ‘Alderman’ (a tall shelling pea) and ‘Multistar’ (a shorter bush type) to shuck and stock her freezer with peas for the offseason, saving the seed year to year.

At Peace Seedlings, the peas are all the kinds you eat with their pods on—and most are taller and vining (meaning they generally bear their crop over a longer time than, say, determinate short-stature peas such as ‘Sugar Ann’). Many feature non-white flowers that means more interest for visiting hummingbirds (and for the gardener), plus chefs who love to serve pea shoots and garnish with the edible blooms.

SUGAR MAGNOLIA on vineAll are Peace Seeds and Peace Seedlings originals. Some examples:

‘Sugar Magnolia’ (which I have grown the last few years and love; photo above) is one of a kind: the first purple-podded sugar snap pea, on prolific 8-foot-tall vines. Purple flowers.

Spring Rose Flowers‘Spring Rose’ is distinctive for its pinkish flowers (above), then forming medium-sized snow peas.

‘Spring Blush’ has an unusual pink blush on the side of the snap pea pod—something the team hopes will continue to evolve as an increasing contribution to that “rainbow” goal. 6-8 feet.

opal creek‘Opal Creek’ (above) “doesn’t get enough recognition,” says Dylana, “but it’s a fun one: a really tasty yellow snap pea. There are not many things like that out there.” 6 feet.

In recent years the Peace team has finished selecting on ‘Sweet Elma’ and ‘Oregon Hypertendril,’ their only two bush types and both beautifully purple-flowered.

That word “hypertendril” is another point of Peace’s emphasis: “We try to select for millions more curls on a tendril, to hold the vines up better,” says Dylana, “Like closer to a hundred rather than the 10 on a normal tendril.”

All the while we are talking colorful varieties, I’m hearing another voice in the background. It’s Mario, and he keeps saying, “’Green Beauty,’ ‘Green Beauty.’”

The team calls ‘Green Beauty’ a “snow-snap” because they’re best eaten when the peas start to form in the big pods, which start to curl a bit and swell. (I’m crazy about ‘Swiss Giant’ or ‘Schweizer Riesen’ for the same trait, and plan to try this one this year.)

Green Beauty puffer pods“We call them a puffer pod,” says Dylana (photo above), agreeing with Mario that they are favorites.

“You pull them open and put peanut butter in them–better than using celery,” she says. “They’re a perfect boat for your peanut butter.” When tasted—peanut butter or not–they quickly win converts.

Customers say, “I don’t like snow peas,” and then try some ‘Green Beauty.’ “After that it’s like. ‘I only want that one, no more snap peas.’” Puffer pods, it is—with a side order of a Pisum rainbow.

Morfire Zinniasmore from peace seedlings

WHILE YOU’RE over at the Peace Seedlings website, have a look at super-tall double-flowered marigold like ‘La Ribera,’ great for cutting or to make a blooming hedge (3 to 6 feet!), and also at the newest Peace zinnia, ‘Morfire’ (above photo), an “interbreeding population” of tall plants with red and pink multitone flowers with gold edging. Other Peace specialties I have enjoyed growing:

OCA tubers on plate

(Photos except ‘Sugar Magnolia’ and oca courtesy of Peace Seedlings.)

  1. Laura Poulette says:

    Loved hearing more about Peace Seeds-their 3 root grex beets have become my favorite beet after reading about them here-I just planted them for the 3rd year yesterday! (I’m in KY…)

  2. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    Those purple pods would make harvesting a lot easier, especially for us oldsters whose vision isn’t what it used to be. Ditto on the yellow pods.
    My peas still are not in the ground. The 6″ snowfall from 2 days ago is hanging onto the beds.
    Come on! Come on! Come one! Come on S P R I N G !

  3. Margit Van Schaick says:

    Thank you for this very informative post. I love the work the Kapuler family and Mario have done (and are doing). I want all their pea cultivars! Makes gardening such an adventure.

  4. Scott Vlaun says:

    Great story about some great people doing some great work! Sugar Magnolia and Green Beauty are rock stars. I’ve been growing and saving seed from them for many years and they have set us apart from other growers at farmers market here in Maine.

    1. margaret says:

      So good to hear your feedback, Scott, from the Northeast! Thank you, and welcome. I have grown the Sugar Magnolia for a few years, and am adding Green Beauty and others this year to my garden.

  5. Salome Presley says:

    I pulled out my bearded Irises two days ago to make more room for vegetable.
    I’m aware that the this Iris is poisonous, but can I still plant my vegetables on the same bed? and how soon is it safe to do so?
    Thank you very much.

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