Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plant Lust and Pea Trellises by Irene Shonle

It’s cold, snowing, and blowing, so I am doing what any sensible gardener does in January – drooling over catalogues.  Goodness, they are dangerous!

Two plants that have really caught my interest are a kale-broccoli hybrid called Purple Peacock, originally developed by Wild Garden Seed, but now available in many locations. Here is their description:
 Sweet purple stems, toothy red veined leaves that will make you think it’s Red Russian kale. Young leaves are salad-rate, and mature leaves are as sweet as any lightly steamed kale. Floret stems erupt first as loose heads of broccoli, followed by prodigious side shoots. These are sweet and non-biting as raw “dippers” and salad additions. This “eat everything brockali” comes from crosses between ‘Green Goliath’ broccoli and two kales. Farm Original Variety!
Purple Peacock - pic from

What I like the most about this is that I have found that broccoli takes up an inordinate amount of space in the garden for what you get – but this clever plant means that you get to pick kale-like leaves AND harvest broccoli all from the same space.  I can’t wait to try it.  Plus, it’s very decorative (although this is less a factor for me, since I usually keep floating row covers on my garden all summer, which puts the kebosh on “ornamental edibles”).

The second plant is the golden pea.    I have always stuck to peas that don’t need trellising in the past, and have been happy with the yields, but there is something about the elegance of the unusual golden pea pod in combination with the purple flowers that just made me cave, despite its 6' growth.  Plus, reviewers have mentioned the productivity and the deliciousness of the peas. 
Golden pea, picture from

 So, now I need to figure out a suitably elegant (and preferably DIY) trellis on which to train them.  I’m intrigued by the idea a willow trellis (we have lots of shrubby willows up here in wetland areas, which I can use).

This one is quite elegant:,,20296527,00.html
Here's a woven fence:

Here's another nice possibility

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