raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
[personal profile] raspberryfool
My my, how quickly summer has rolled around! This is a brief pea update with no images; I'll have to do a proper update one day!

The hybrid pea plants from my cross (Bijou (B) x Golden Sweet (G.S.)) grew very well; they're currently bearing a healthy-looking crop of F2 seeds. The F1 generation was very much as I predicted in my earlier post, but they did throw up a few surprises. Below is a quick-and-dirty summary of what i've found so far:

Last summer, I cross-pollinated the two mangetout pea varieties above; in the first cross I used B as the mother variety. That first cross produced only one seed, so i tried it again using G.S. as the mother, yielding another seven seeds. To my delight, all eight germinated and I planted them outside into the soil in April.

As predicted, the hybrid plants were quite tall. They grew quite quickly and almost outstripped the growth of the parent varieties. They didn't reach the dizzy, seven-foot height of Bijou though; they stalled around five to five-and-a-half feet.

As predicted, the pods are green and quite long; around five inches long. When they were young I snaffled a few pods; they were quite edible, tasting and looking just like supermarket mangetout pods. The surprise here was that as they matured, the pods developed a tough, fibrous membrane about halfway through their thickness; whilst the pods were sweet and quite tasty, the fibrous layer renders them effectively inedible. According to Rebsie Fairholm, this membrane is caused by one of two dominant genes whilst the fibreless pods are caused by recessive versions of these genes.

Fairholm actually says in her blog that Golden Sweet pods have a tendency to become fibrous as they mature, but my G.S. pods have always remained quite edible as the peas inside swelled. Bijou has never shown this trait either, so perhaps a completely different gene is involved. The thing is, dominant genes don't hide themselves like recessive ones do; surely this gene would express itself in the parent plants!

Instead of remaining thick and crunchy as they matured, the pod walls thin and become tubular, as shelling peas do. They retain their opaqueness, so it's possible to see the peas inside.

As predicted, anthocyanin was present in the stems and leaves; they have the beautiful red slodges in the leaf axils of the parent varieties. Also visible were purple-red tinges in the tendrils and in the 'pixie-hat' calyx behind the flower. Like Bijou, the pods sometimes show some purple mottling, though not in such a pronounced way.

The seeds themselves are green with a sprinkling of tiny, purple-red spots like its parent Golden Sweet. I tasted a few of them at the fully-grown-but-still-green stage; they taste quite bitter and slightly soapy. I'm not worried at this stage though; there's bound to be some sweet, tasty genes in there somewhere. I didn't cook any; they're too precious to end up on the plate!

As predicted, flowers were bi-colour purple.

So that's the current situation in my pea-crossing experiment. I'll sow a handful for an autumn trial, nature permitting.
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