Hello Fellow readers,
I met with Melanie of Newton who asked if the perennial sweet peas covering her pool fence are edible. They sure look so; dead ringers to peas in your veggie garden. Some say you can as long as you don’t eat too many of them. Turns out it’s the flowers not the seed pods or seeds (peas) that are usually eaten. The bright pink blossoms taste sweet and crisp. But sweet peas are mildly toxic and in sufficient quantities can cause disease of the nervous system so I’d stay clear.
Lathyrus latifolius is called Perennial Sweet Pea, Everlasting Pea, Wild Sweetpea, or Pea-vine. Native to Europe, it escaped from gardens and grows wild in most every state. You see it blooming along the roads all summer long. While in bloom it’s pretty, the foliage becomes scruffy and yellowish by the end of summer after climbing or sprawling six feet or more. Unlike the related annual sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus, it has no scent. It’s the annual sweet pea that enchants us with its fragile fragrance that make beautiful bouquets.
It’s funny how Sweet Pea has become a term of endearment meaning you’re cute and sweet. In the comics, Swee’Pea is a baby found on Popeye’s doorstep. Popeye adopts and raises him as his son he calls “boy-kid”.
Hey Sweet Pea, why not plant edible peas you can safely eat? Despite their not so popular reputation, peas are packed with nutrition. They flower, they’re yummy and indeed they are quite cute.
While fall pea crops can be finicky, the minimal effort and expense is well worth the try. The trick is to finish the harvest before a hard frost. Check the days to maturity for the variety chosen and count backward from the expected first frost date which is about October 2nd here. Snowbird Peas are a dwarf plant that produces loads of pods that are ready to pick 58 days after seeds are sown.
Among the many health benefits, peas are anti-aging and boost a strong immune system which comes from high levels of anti-oxidants. Not to mention a cup of peas has less than 100 calories and lots of protein, fiber and micronutrients. Popeye would be proud.
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