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Seed Saving: Peas | Save Your Own Pea Seed

It’s a sobering thought that people were saving pea seed for next year’s crop at least 5,000 years ago and possibly 7,000 years back! Peas are not just one of our oldest crops but happily one of the easiest crops for home seed saving.Saved Pea Seed

Peas tend to be self-fertile although they can be cross-pollinated. This makes maintaining a pure strain relatively easy, even on an allotment site where people nearby are growing different varieties.

To avoid cross-pollination just grow different varieties in different parts of the plot separated by other crops. Use the plants from the middle of rows to save seed from to further reduce the chances of cross-pollination.

Seed Selection

As the plants grow through the season, ruthlessly weed out any that are poorly performing or not true to type. Just as with any seed selection by preferentially picking for the characteristics you want you will eventually develop a separate strain.

This strain will be optimised for your particular soil and micro-climate.

Pest Problem Affecting Saving Peas for Seed

Pea Moth

The Dreaded Pea Moth

One problem that can cause problems when saving your own peas as seed is the pea moth. The adult pea moths emerge in June and July, when the females look for pea plants on which to lay their eggs. They are attracted to pea plants that are in flower.

The eggs hatch into caterpillars as the pods are developing and they eat into the pods where they feed on the seeds. This obviously ruins the peas for seed saving. If growing varieties that will be susceptible consider a chemical spray if only for the seed producing plants.

If pea moth is a particular problem in your area you could consider just growing fast-maturing varieties that flower outside of June and July when the moth is about laying eggs.

Harvesting Peas to Save for Seed

In an ideal world you would just leave the pods on the plant in the sunny warmth we usually enjoy in Britain (well we can dream!) to dry out. The mature pods turn brown and hard and the peas can be heard to rattle inside when shaken.

Usually it is necessary to finish drying the peas undercover. Remove the whole plant and hang upside down from the shed roof or greenhouse or rafters in a garage etc. Anywhere warm and dry but with good airflow will do the job.

Once the pods are cracking, shell the peas out and dry for another few days to a week. It is important to ensure the peas are dry or they’ll go mouldy and spoil. However, do not use a dehydrator or oven to dry them as the heat will be too much and your saved pea seeds will not be viable.

Storing Peas for Seed

Store in an airtight tin or a large jar with a lid. Desiccants are highly recommended such as the little silica gel bags found in shoe boxes, new handbags, etc, or simply add some dry, uncooked rice or a bit of milk powder to each closed container. These ensure no moisture problems.

Label with variety and year saved. They should keep well for two years at least

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