Thursday, 24 June 2010


I had another look at that hive yesterday, and they now have brood on three frames, and they're into comb drawing mode. For the first couple of weeks, they were tearing down comb, and I'm not sure why. Bees often tear down old, black combs which the beekeeper ought to have removed long before, but these had only been drawn a couple of years ago, and there was nothing obviously wrong with them. Other combs of the same age or older have been accepted without problems.

Rebsie said she's found two different varieties circulating as 'Kent Blue'. That's not unique; there seem to be several King Tut's. Here are a couple of not very good pics of mine. The small, dimpled, olive-green seeds with purple speckles look right; it's about four feet high, and a bit overshadowed by taller peas. As you can see from the second pic, there are splashes of purple at the leaf bases. It remains to be seen whether the pods become sickle-shaped and knobbly.

This is Bijou, a giant sugar pea from Real Seeds. It's an extremely vigorous grower with these hooded, deep purple flowers. It's going to be interesting to see what it turns into!

This one is Ezetha's Krombek Blauschok. I don't know the origin of this one; it could be old, but there are no old records of the name so it could be quite modern. Over there the purple podded varieties are known as Capucijners, after the Capuchin monks who bred improved field peas in the 15th Century.


  1. Bijou is certaibly a whopper by all accounts.
    How does it taste?

  2. I'll let you know when it's grown some pods!

  3. Wow, these people are really into peas! Nice to read.

  4. Caupcijners are certainly an old type of pea, but I'm not sure Ezetha's Krombek is an old variety. Up until a couple of years ago it was the standard commercial variety that was sold by all the seed companies here, under the name 'Ezetha's Krombek'. Now all the seed companies sell 'Blauwshokker' (meaning blue or purple podded). I'm not sure what's the difference between these two, or which one you have.

    Anyway, it is OP, and the origin of the genetics go back a long time. In fact the field pea or grey pea is considered to be one of oldest traceable modern foods in Europe.

  5. Most of the commercially available peas are fairly old, so that says nothing about when it was bred. It's still commercially available here, from one firm. Lots of firms sell generic 'purple-podded', but they're all different varieties. I'm not sure how old field peas really are, but the most plausible guess I've seen is early medieval. I don't know whether any Roman-era peas have actually been found anywhere.

  6. There an EU seed list rule that basically says varieties cannot remain listed unless they are periodically improved, unless for some reason it's not possible to do so. It's not that it's impossible to find true old varieties sold commercially, but following the EU seed listing rules which at least the Netherlands follows very closely, it's pretty rare.

    The seed listings, and what's available commercially, tend to only be what can be grown commercially. It's often pretty hard to grow old varieties commercially, because over time they lose their genetic vigor.

    If you look at seed bank or historical seed catalogue listings of Capucijners in particular or grey peas in general, you see there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of known varieties, but I have never come across one called Ezetha's Krombek. There are lots of similar names, including lots of 'krombeks', but nothing with exactly the same name. I have specifically looked for this.

    I don't think anyone could make the case that it's not possible to improve grey peas, because people have been improving them for centuries.

    It's for all these reasons I suspect Ezetha's Krombek is not specifically an old variety, but at the same time is OP and I have no reason to think there's anything wrong with it. In fact it may be a particularly good variety to grow, because it's been worked on recently by plant breeders.

  7. You may be right in that case. EU seed laws are absurd.

  8. The reason I'm being so persistent here is in the plant breeding/seed saving/gardening world, a lot of 'facts' come out in this way. That is one person says what they think is true and everyone starts repeating it. I think it's worthwhile keeping these kinds of things as straight as possible.

    I think if someone really wants to grow an old Dutch variety of Capucijners, they need to look elsewhere. I know some US seed companies carry some older ones, and they are also available through seed saving organizations and/or seed banks.

    Like I said however, there are some advantages to growing a more modern variety.

    I could also be wrong, and it might turn out to be an old variety after all.

  9. You're right to be persistent; that's the way we arrive at the truth.